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Penang Snapshots: George Town’s Clan Jetties

Traditional houses crammed together on a series of jetties linked by wooden walkways perch on stilts over the sea. These are George Town’s Clan Jetties.

Built in the 19th century, communities of fishermen, traders and dock workers still live with their families on these austere clan jetties along the shores of historic George Town in Penang, Malaysia.

A few hours exploring by foot along George Town’s clan jetties was one of the highlights of my short trip to Penang. I love waterside living and these simple homes appealed to me. Each clan jetty is unique in character, some more rustic and unkempt than others.

Here’s a series of some of my images captured that afternoon. Check out my earlier post Penang Snapshots: Historic George Town Scenes.

Chew Jetty

A gaudy Chinese temple dominates the entrance to the workmanlike Chew Jetty. Bathed in bright sunlight blue boats moored along the boardwalk, rock lazily on the tide.

Chinese lanterns, bamboo birdcages and handmade fish traps hang outside humble homes, cozy stores and simple eateries. Laundry hangs drying under eaves, bicycles lean against walls and motorbikes stand among the clutter of everyday living. Fragrant incense glows at the seaward tip of the jetty in a Chinese shrine with a sea view.

Jetty home and rocking chairs, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Jetty home and rocking chairs, Chew Jetty

Boats, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Boats at Chew Jetty

Jetty home with hanging bird cages and Chinese shrine, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Jetty home with hanging bird cages and Chinese shrine, Chew Jetty

Jetty home, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Chew Jetty home

View from Chinese temple at end of jetty, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

View from Chinese temple at end of Chew Jetty

Outside kitchen at end of jetty, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Outside kitchen at end of Chew Jetty

Fish traps hanging outside jetty home, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Fish traps hanging outside jetty home, Chew Jetty

Boats at end of jetty, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Boats at end of Chew Jetty

Boats, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Boats at Chew Jetty

Boats, Chew Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Boats at Chew Jetty

Nameless Jetty

The most basic jetty I walked along had no name at the entrance. I ended up staying a while, prisoner of a sudden storm.

Luckily I found a broken plastic chair to sit on under an open-sided shelter full of fishing nets, my view misted by stinging rain; a ramshackle jetty village perched on stilts over a low tide stream clogged with tangles of broken logs, like skeletal remains emerging from the dark, stinking mud.

Jetty home, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Jetty home

View of next jetty at low tide during storm, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

View of next jetty at low tide during a storm

View of next jetty at low tide during storm with fishing nets hanging in foreground, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

View of next jetty at low tide during a storm with fishing nets hanging in foreground

Sunken boat at end of jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Sunken boat at end of jetty

View of next jetty during storm, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

View of next jetty during a storm

View of next jetty with boat in foreground, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

View of next jetty

Lee Jetty

As the rain subsided, I continued to the neater, homier Lee Jetty. A small Chinese shrine protects the entrance leading to an avenue of crimson Chinese lanterns, green wheelie bins, street lights and gaudily painted door and window frames with matching metal fences outside.

A muddle of antennas, cables and satellite dishes hang overhead. Offerings lay at simple Chinese shrines guarding each house. Bundles of incense glow in sacred pots placed on the boardwalk end, facing seaward towards the city skyline and a yellow jetty temple across the water.

Jetty homes with hanging Chinese lanterns, Lee Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Jetty homes with hanging Chinese lanterns

Jetty home with hanging Chinese lantern and view of water, boats and city skyline, Lee Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Jetty home with hanging Chinese lantern and view of water, boats and city skyline

Chinese offerings and flag at end of jetty with view of Chinese temple on next jetty, Lee Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Chinese offerings and flag at end of jetty with view of Chinese temple on next jetty

Jetty homes with hanging Chinese lanterns, Lee Jetty, Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Jetty homes with hanging Chinese lanterns

More exploring at George Town’s Clan Jetties awaits me next time I visit Penang!

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4 responses

  1. Really great set if photos! The jetties are so cool! I’ve never seen them before. Are they mostly typical to Malasia only?

    October 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

    • Thanks, Nicole! I loved these jetties! This is really the only place I’ve seen with homes on jetties before although there’s a floating muslim village near Phuket. I haven’t been there for years though but I want to go back there and take photos. http://jamie-monk.blogspot.com/2010/04/koh-panyee.html

      October 17, 2013 at 8:51 am

  2. Pingback: Penang Snapshots: Historic George Town Facades | loca4motion

  3. Pingback: Phang Nga Bay: Koh Panyee – A Fishing Village On Stilts | loca4motion

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