The fascinating heritage shophouses in George Town may offer visitors a glimpse of Penang’s British colonial history but it is at the Esplanade that her past truly unfolds.
The seafront promenade is an enclave of dwarfing structures and memorials like Fort Cornwallis and the nearby Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower; City Hall; Town Hall, State Legislative Assembly building, Cenotaph and Logan Memorial. At the centre of it all, is a beautifully landscaped public park where locals often bring their families to enjoy the cool, breezy air. In the early days, the Esplanade was used as a ground for firing practice by sepoy regiments and later with the arrival of the British, the field was used for football, cricket and lawn bowling. Malaysia’s former prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak, former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, former Singapore president Devan Nair reportedly delivered fiery speeches at the field some three decades ago.
On a lighter note, the Esplanade is famous for the Chap Goh Meh celebration. Since the 19th century, eligible young Nyonyas would gather on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, known fondly among locals as Chap Goh Meh or Chinese Valentine’s Day, at the Esplanade to throw Mandarin oranges into the sea in the hopes of finding a good suitor – a tradition still practiced today.
These days, the Esplanade comes to life with hawkers, hungry diners and your average angling enthusiasts.
Location of Esplanade
George Town, Penang Island.