18 years ago ………..

In 2001, the American magazine, the Utne Reader, published an article titled “7 Urban Wonders” and George Town, Penang was included as one of the world’s most liveable cities with a soul. The magazine needed a photo to truly depict the way of life in George Town and the editor commissioned me to take a few for her to choose. She picked the one shown above. The article mentioned that the shophouses did business downstairs while the people lived upstairs and hence the term “shophouse” which means the premises were a shop as well as a house. Some businesses also spilled on to the street. When George Town applied to be listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, this article was one of the many documents submitted to UNESCO. The old residents of George Town were/are the soul of the city and it is unthinkable if they are all gone. We might be able to preserve all those heritage buildings but can George Town retain its soul?

Let me know what you think!