Map of Rope Walk
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Rope Walk or Jalan Pintar Tali, is located between Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong(formerly Prangin Road)and Lebuh Chulia(Chulia Street). It was intersected by Kimberley Street and Campbell Street. The name Rope Walk , was named after the business of making traditional ropes or ropewalk formerly there. A rope walk is a long straight narrow lane or a covered pathway,where long strands were laid before being twisted into rope.
For local Chinese, Rope Walk(Jalan Pintar Tali)is divided into 3 parts:
(i)Ean-tang-lor(煙筒路),which is between Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong and Kimberley Street
(ii)Ghee Hock- kei((義福街), which is between Kimberley Street and Campbell street, and
(iii) Ta Soon- kei(大順街). which is between Campbell Street and Chulia Street
(i)Between Kimberley Street(汕头街) and Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong(林萃龙路(港仔墘): 煙筒路
This part of the road is also called Ean-tang-lor(煙筒路). "Ean" is smoke," tang" is tube or pipe," lor" is road in Chinese Hokkien dialect, which literally means kerosene-lamp tube road. The end at Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong(formerly Prangin Road) is the Masjid Al-Jamiul Azzakirin and the other end is the New Asia Hotel and dim sum restaurant.
Rope Walk, especially between Kimberley Street and Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, used to be the antiques street of Penang, but the state government relocated it to Lorong Kulit in 1992(near the City Stadium), when the street is congested.
At the 50s, 60s, the time when thermionic valve(or vacuum or electron tubes) and transistor were the active components for the radio and other electronic equipments. Transistor was commercially produced in 1954 by Texas Instruments, and Sony produced the first transistorized radio in 1960. Ean-tang-lor of the Rope Walk was the place you scout for the transistors and the radio bulbs, and other electrical spare parts. It was the hub for the electronic spare parts dealers, which were at the shops in the building that house the New Asia Hotel, which is an old hotel at 110, Jalan Pintar Tali.
United Clinic was the only clinic here. Dr Loh Guan Lye(卢源来醫生) started this clinic, the clinic is popular in Penang. He later found the famous Loh Guan Lye Hospital(Loh Guan Lye Specialist Centre卢源来专科医院)in 1975, the hospital is named after him. The clinic still has his name and his daughter's names Dr Loh Ai Ling as clinic doctors. In our school days during late 70s, we used to call it Indonesia clinic, as one of the clinic doctor is an Indonesian(may be a Malay). They are friendly doctors.
Opposite the United Clinic, there is a side road Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze(formerly Hong Kong Street).
Masjid Al-Jamiul Azzakirin
This is a small Indian Muslim mosque located at the corner between Prangin Road and Rope Walk. It was in front of the Prangin river(later Prangin canal),the oxcarts parking along the canal, and the canal which connected the sia-buai wholesale market was the main transport mode for the goods from the ships/boats in the jetty/port. The land beyond the river is still undeveloped. The original mosque is reported to be only a small shrine, but later developed into the size today as the mosque expanded with a porch surrounding the shrine. The early people may be the Indian Muslim oxcart pullers.
Leong Kee Tea Garden
A dim sum restaurant at the corner of Rope Walk and Kimberley street, which is popular.
Masjid Al-Jamiul Azzakirin at Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong
The side view of Leong Kee(dim sum restaurant) at Rope Walk
The old hotel and modern Komtar
The entrance of junction between Rope Walk(煙筒路) and Kimberley street. The New Asia Hotel is on right side and Leong Kee Tea Garden, a dim sum restaurant is on the left side.
The view of shop houses at Kimberley street, in front of the junction
(ii) Between Kimberley Street(汕头街) and Campbell Street(新街): 義福街/义福街
This part of Rope Walk is also called Ghee Hock Kei(義福街)in Hockkien dialect, or Yi Fook Kai in Cantonese dialect, which literally means Ghee Hock Society Street. It is also called Pak-sok-hang(拍索巷), which also included Kimberley Street. "Pak" is beating , and "sok"is rope,and "hang" is lane in Hokkien dialect. It literally means lane for beating rope or rope weaving alley. Ropes made of coconut husk fibres used to be woven here, the ropes was then delivered by handcart or bullock carts to the port, and used for mooring ship. This type of business is no longer in demand now, and disappeared from the street.
This is also the place for the secret societies action of Penang Riots in 1867. The Ming Eng Soo, the headquarter of Chinese secret society Ghee Hin and Masjid Pintar Tali, the base for Malay secret society, Bendera Putih, are located side by side at the street. There is a side road , Pesara Claimant,which lead to the Campbell street market, and historical Carnarvon Street police station(the rear portion is located at Jalan Pintar Tali), both are also historical institution established in the 19th century, but the old prison/police station has long been demolished. An interesting fact is , the police station is located between the bases of two rivals.
If you want to buy lion head for your lion dance, this is the street to go too...
1. Ming Eng Soo(名英祠)
Ming Eng Soo, the memorial hall dedicated to the leaders and members of Ghee Hin Kongsi, it is also called Ghee Hin Memorial hall of heroes. It is the place the Ghee Hin Society has their Kongsi or secret society activities.
Ghee Hin Kongsi(the 2nd branch of Tian Di Hui), the aim of the society is to overthrow the Qing dynasty and to rebuild the Ming dynasty.
It is located at 48, Jalan Pintal Tali or Rope Walk. Rope Walk is between Prangin Road(now Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong)and Chulia Street.Now the Ming Eng Soo is also Penang Chinese Clan Council secretariat office.
2. Masjid Pintar Tali or Rope Walk Mosque
It is a small mosque in the old town, with rich history. It was the base of Malay secret socitey, the White Flag or Bendera Putih. The original name of the mosque was Masjid Syed Mohamed Bilfakih, and was found by the son-in-law of Tengku Syed Hussain, the late 19th century Acehnese clan leader. Tengku Syed Hussain moved to Penang from Acheh,and set up his base at Acheen Street.
The White Flag secret society was the alliance of Chinese society of Ghee Hin,which was based at Ming Eng Soo, next to the mosque. The leader of the society was Tuan Chee, and its members were from Malay, Keling(Indian Muslim) and Peranakan Jawis(Muslim Indian and Malay parentage).
The rival of White Flag was Red Flag, of area around Acheen Street Mosque. Acheen Street Mosque was also found by Tengku Syed Hussain, the same person that found Masjid Pintar Tali. The leader of Red Flag was Syed Al-Alatas. The Red Flag supported Khian Teik Tong(Hock Teik Chen Sin Temple & Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi), which were allied with Hai San,Ghee Hin's rival gang during Penang Riots in 1867. Hock Teik Chen Sin Temple is also known as Poh Hock Sia or Hokkien Tua Pek Kong Temple. Hai San was led by Kapitan Cina Chung Keng Kwee.
Syed Al-Alatas had two wives, the first wife was from Malay royal family,the 2nd wife was from wealthy Strait Chinese pepper trader, Khoo Tiang Poh's daughter. Khoo Tiang Poh was a member of the Khoo kongsi and Khian Teik Tong. The marriage strengthen the alliance between Khian Teik Tong and the Red Flag. The Syed Al-Alatas Mansion located at Armenian Street, was built by Syed Al-Alatas, it was the base for Achenese rebels against Dutch in Acheh, Indonesia. The mansion is now The Penang Islamic Museum.
The row of colonial pre-war shops
View toward Kimberley street junction, KOMTAR at the background
Look at the colonial architecture of the shop house, especially the window.
I was attracted by the green colour three storey corner shop at the end of the row. The shop house is unique as the other shop house are either single or double storey.
The ground floor
The upper two floors
A closer look at the building
The window and the moon shape arch
The door and the woman, a living heritage
The pavement or 5 foot way.
The side alley
Do you know the story of this back lane?
The side window
The lane that lead to Cintra street (日本横街)apartment
The 3 dilapidated shop houses
Another view of dilapidated shops
The two storey shops which are lower than other shops,may be built earlier. The end of these two shops is an empty land where the shops have been demolished.
The T junction,just beside the end of the Carnarvon street police station
The shops in front of T-junction, mainly residential, one of the house has produced one state assembly man for past Barisan state government of Penang.
The colonial pre-war house/shops
Another view of colonial shops, some was used as house for many families...
The KOMTAR (tallest building in Penang) is at the background. It is the venue of the state government office.
This coffee shop has been around for a long time, a corner shop beside the side road to Cambell street wet market.
This is the house where the sinkeh(new arrival Chinese) used to play mahcheong(a type of Chinese table games) here.
The street signage with the Chinese name, Ghee Hock- kei. The sign of " Boon Wah" is famous cloth retailer at Campbell street. The signage is located beside Boon Wah.
The plate explain the history of the street
The view toward the T junction
Look at the door
Ming Eng Soo(名英祠)building
The view toward Cambell street junction
Ming Eng Soo is just beside Masjid Pintar Tali, both close alliance in Penang Riots in 1867. So there is nothing new for political alliance, the secret societies knew it better than the current political parties......
Masjid Pintal Tali and the flag pole; it has seen the history of Penang...
The mosaic sign of Masjid Pintal Tali
The front view of Masjid Pintar Tali, it may be a small mosque, but it is big name in Penang history...
The building indicated the end of Ghee Hock street of Rope Walk, the corner meeting Campbell street.
The junction at Campbell street, continue to another part of Rope Walk, Ta Soon Street((大順街)
(iii) Between Campbell Street (新街)and Chulia Street(牛干冬): 大順街
This part is a less busy part of the Rope Walk, the street is mainly shops dealing with wholesale businesses. At night, the street is quite. Some old hotel building still remained. The hotel were popular for prostitutes in the older days. Rope Walk was within the red light area of Penang in the 19th century. Some hotel has closed down, some still opened. These old hotel building may be the left over of the old red light area.
The prostitution has been around even before 1870. The red-light areas were Campbell Street, Cintra Street, Kuala Kangsar Road and Rope Walk. In Penang, the boundaries of brothel areas were also well demarcated: along Campbell Street where the higher class prostitutes were located for the wealthy, Cintra street where Chinese and Japanese brothels were found were for the middle class, Rope Walk and the Kuala Kangsar Road area (behind Chowrasta Market) where services could be obtained at budget prices for the coolie class and the rickshaw pullers.
With the passing of the Contagious Diseases Ordinance in 1870, both the brothels and prostitutes were registered and each brothel had to keep a list of inmates with their respective names, ages and nationalities. This is the beginning of licensed brothels. In 1893, there were 958 brothels within the red-light district of Penang. The licensed brothels were abolished in 1930.
It was known that a kongsi house existed for brothel-keepers and prostitutes, believed to be located along Rope Walk. The kongsi not only functioned as a meeting ground for brothel-keepers to settle disputes and squabbles among the inmates but also as a sanatorium for the infirm and disease ridden prostitutes to rest out their dying days.
Hup Huat(合發), the sole trishaw maker is also located here.
The street sign, but it has been vandalized. What a shame to the heritage city.
A coffee shop at Chulia Street, this is the side view of the shop at Rope Walk
The side view of photo studio at Chulia Street, which is at the left corner of the Rope Walk
The hotel which is now a bar
The name of the hotel on the wall
View of the street
Hup Huat(合發), sole trishaw maker
The view of interior of the shop
The trishaw(still not completed)
The double storey shops(yellow color) has recently renovated
View of the 3 storey shop(one unit)
The upper floor of the shops(2nd and 3rd floor)
3 units of 3 storey shops
This is a hotel which has been closed
Another Chinese name clearly stated on the wall of the shop, that it was once a hotel.
The Chinese character at the pillar/column, clearly indicated that the 3 storey shops were formerly hotel, Chung Tian Hotel.
The junction of Rope Walk and Campbell Street
The entrance to another part of Rope Walk, view at Campbell Street junction
The clothes retailer, Boon Wah at Campbell Street, at the corner of Rope Walk