Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Muntri Street(南華醫院街)

Map of Muntri Street(南華醫院街)

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Note: In the map, it was stated as Jalan Muntri(Muntri Road) which is the wrong name, should be Muntri Street or Lebuh Muntri in Malay language.

Muntri Street (南華醫院街)or Lebuh Muntri, is the road between Penang Road and Love Lane. It joined Stewart Lane(觀音亭後)after Love Lane. The street cross the Leith Street(莲花河街)to join with Penang Road.

In the old days the place was a residence area for the upper class people; the colonial officials, the rich Chinese merchants....

Muntri Street is named after Mentri of Larut, Ngah Ibrahim son of Long Jaafar.Long Jaffar was the Minister of Larut (in Taiping),who was empowered by Sultan of Perak to govern Larut. He was credited to be the person who discovered tin in Larut in 1848. In 1857, Long Jaafar was succeed by his son, Ngah Ibrahim. On 1-11-1875, JWW Birch(1826-1875),the first British Resident in Perak was murdered, Ngah Ibrahim and others were implicated in the murder of Birch.They were exiled to Seychelles in 1877, and he never returned. He died on 4-2-1895 in Singapore, 18 years after his exile.Only in 7-9-2006, the bodies of Ngah Ibrahim and his father in law, were bought back to Perak. Muntri is the old word for Mentri.

However some said the Muntri was actually referred to the high ranking colonial officials staying in Leith Street and Muntri Street. There was a 2 storey horse stables(buildings that house horses馬房) in Muntri Street. There are 12 box stalls, should be tie stalls(where the horses are tied to a ring in front of the manger). The upper floor was quarters for the horse keeper, and the ground floor for the horses. This supported the view that the Muntri Street's Muntri is refer to high ranking colonial officials; and not Mentri of Larut. The stalls are now used as residential house for human. It was divided into 12 small double storey houses. Some said there were once 72 families staying in the 24 residential units.They are mainly hawkers, and shared a common kitchen and toilet, but now most of them have their own toilet.

The traditional black and white nannies(順德媽姐), white top with black silk trousers, are staying here as a group. But today there are few left, many have passed away. They are called Mah cheh (媽姐), a group of very professional and reliable maid,which despite the language barrier, were able to work in the European colonial officials families. Some had build up strong relationship with the employer's family. They are from the Pearl delta districts,mainly from Soon Tuck(順德), Kwangdong Province, China. They speak no English and local languages/dialects. They are normally girls from poor family or woman whose husband had passed away.They have make an oath not to marry/marry again, and be self reliance as a woman, the early supporter of gender equality. They called themselves, "Girl who comb their own hairs,cook their own meals, enjoy their own life(自梳女)".They have an official oath taking traditional ceremony for new member , to declare their decision to become a mah cheh, ceremony of combing hair. Once become a member of mah cheh, it is a life decision, it cannot be reversed. They will group their finances to cater for their group, buying houses as a old folk home for the welfare of the old retired mah cheh. The house is called mah cheh house(媽姐屋). The movement started from Qing dynasty, but it is dying in history, few mah cheh left today. Some old Chinese also called this road Mah Cheh Street (媽姐街)cooly fong(咕哩房). If you want to know more about Mah cheh,there is a book by Christine B.N. Chin, the title is "In Service & Servitude".

It is also the site for the first hospital for the poor, Lam Wah Ee hospital, which was found in 1883.Adventist Hospital in 1924. The Lam Wah Ee hospital building was destroyed during the second world war(WW2). The original Adventist hospital building , 108 Muntri Street , still remained at Muntri Street, located at the junction of Leith Street and Muntri Street,now is Lum Fong Hotel. Lum Fong Hotel housed a coffee shop, bistro, and a budget bed & breakfast.

There were many association, guilds, clanhouses, which included Hainanese Temple(or Thean Hou Temple 天后宮or Mazu 媽祖temple for goddess of the sea ).Some of them are more than 100 years history. It included Penang and Province Wellesley Cafe Association(咖啡店公會), Penang restaurants and tea shops association, Penang Goldsmith Association(庇能打金行), King Wan Association(警頑公會), a trade union for shop keepers and clerks.Some of these clanhouse or association are more than 100 years old.

The place is also slowing becoming a back packer travellers' heaven, together with the nearby Love Lane and Chulia Street.

19, Muntri Street- Dilapidated house with dark blue wall, the painting is fading. The black door was painted with Chinese greeting words with gold paint. The signage above the door was missing. Look at the bat shape air vents on top of the rust color windows.

36, Muntri Street is the Lam Wah Ee Hospital, Chinese traditional division,opened in 1884. It is difficult to locate the LamWah Ee Hospital. The hospital was bombed and destroyed during WW2. Only the Chinese traditional medicine division left in Muntri Street. The main modern hospital had moved to Green Lane.

No 41,Muntri Street is the Penang Goldsmith Association (庇能打金行)or Goldsmith Guild(胡靖古廟), found in 1832. In Cantonese it is called Ta Kam Hong. The current goldsmith temple cum association was build only in 1903. Their members are mainly from Toisan district, Kwangdong Province, China.

52, Muntri Street - restored house with dark wooden door, and fine wood carving and oval glass. The wall is painted white with green wall tiles, below the windows.Floor tiles with pattern of geometrical grey and red.

No 54, Muntri Street is the renovated shop house. which was submitted for 2008 Unesco Heritage Award entry.

NO 58-62 , Muntri Street is Jin-Xiu Art Gallery & Tea House (錦繡畫廊茶藝館)it is located behind the St Xavier's Institution(圣芳济).

No 59 Muntri Street is the ku-su-hang, or Penang and Province Wellesley Cafe Association(咖啡店公會), Penang restaurants and tea shops association

N0 69, Muntri Street is the Association of Chinese Traditional Medicine practitioners(中醫中藥聯合會). Formed in 1928.

No71, Muntri Street is Penang School of Chinese Traditional Medicine

The no.75, Muntri Street was the house of famous 19th century Baba-Malay novelist Chan Kim Boon(1851-1920).He is popular with his pen name Batu Gantong.He translated Chinese classic into Baba language(mixture of Malay and Hokkien).It is now Travellers Lodge.

81, Muntri Street is backpacker hostel, Oriental GH

85, Muntri Street is King Wan Association(警頑公會)

93, Muntri Street is the Penang Hainan Association(槟城海南会馆/瓊州會館). There is a Chinese Primary School found by the association, Aik Hua School or SJK(C) Aik Hua(益華小學).It was found in 1925.

No 102, Muntri Street is called Green House(青色民宅).It is famous for its Australian desserts, supplied by the Australian couple, Alan and Pat Jones. They came to Malaysia under Malaysia-My Second Home programme. Please refer to for their story.

No 108, Muntri Street is Lum Fong Hotel; formerly the place was Adventist Hospital mission clinic .

173, Muntri street is the popular Ta Mun Teochew Porridge shop

177, Muntri Street is Hong Kong Shoe Store(香港鞋店), the left corner shop house ,located at the junction of Leith Street and Muntri Street. This shop will tell you the story of Jimmy Choo when he was young. This is the place where the famous luxury shoe designer, Datuk Jimmy Choo (周仰傑)or Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat , started his apprenticeship. He later entered the Cordwainers' Technical College, Hackney, UK (the college is now part of London College of Fashion) for further study on shoe making. He worked part time in restaurant and shoe making factory to finance his education.
Jimmy came from shoe making family from Penang. From a humble beginning, he is now a world famous London based woman shoe designer for Jimmy Choo Ltd. His famous client included the late Princess Diana of UK.

He is a Malaysian who is Penang born; and is currently setting up a shoe making institution in Malaysia. Penang is proud of him.

179-C, Muntri Street is Modern Hotel now.

Look, the tourists enjoyed their time in Muntri Street.

When we looked back from the junction of Leith Street, we know we have walk through the old street of Penang, with many old stories. The back packers here will bring it back to their country in the whole world, the old story of Muntri Street......

1 comment:

  1. The Hong Kong shoe store once made shoe for the Sultanah of Kedah, if I remember correctly. I was born in Muntri Street in 1959.