Saint Anne’s Church, Bukit Mertajam
This famous church is the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Anne, located in the state of Penang on the Malaysian peninsular.
The Saint Anne’s Church, in Bukit Mertajam (Seberang Perai) was constructed in 1957 in the vicinity of an older church built in 1888. A new church was also built in 2002 and other transformation was done to the church area.
The Origins of St. Anne's Sanctuary can be traced back as early as 1833, when the Chinese and Indian migrant workers came to the area. The earliest records of Church of St. Anne parish is said to have started in 1846. As the Catholic population begin to increased, a new church was built and opened in 1888. This is the church which is now called the St Anne Shrine. (Photo above: white church on the hill)
In the 1950s, when Malaya declared an emergency, the church grounds were designated as a no-go area. It was only in 1960 that the emergency was lifted. In 1977, the church started moving back to the St. Anne's Shrine and restoration works begin.
(The parish moved further down the road and in 1958, the parish opened another church. This church was known as the "new church" for over 40 years, and was the main centre for the parish and the feast celebrations until 2003. In these years of the feast, pilgrims had to commute between this church and St. Anne's Shrine, which is 2 km away. This grounds now occupies the Kim Sen Primary School - wikipedia)
New St. Anne Today
In 2002, another new church was built, and is one of the largest churches in Malaysia. This church has a Minangkabau-styled roofs, but the walls and columns built in the style of old churches and monastaries of Rome. Today, the St. Anne's Church also serves as a pilgrim centre, and the Domus St. Anne is built to accommodate pilgrims who intend to stay over.
The feast of St. Anne falls on July 26 but every year the celebration stretches for a few days. The Saint Anne’s feast attracts pilgrims from all over Malaysia and internationally - the crowd estimated sometimes to reach about a quarter million. The highlight of this celebration is a night mass and a candlelight procession.
St. Anne is the mother of Virgin Mary. Although she is not mentioned in the scriptures - the Catholic church has acknowledged her as the wife of St. Joachim and mother of Mary.
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm daily.
Location: Jalan Kulim, Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Perai, Pulau Pinang
Looking for authentic Penang Hawker food? Check out Food Court along or slightly off Burma Road.
If you are driving along Burma Road, look out for these slightly hidden food court or cafes. You will be delighted with the tastes and choices.
One Corner Cafe - Famed for its Super Penang Hokkien Mee, but other stalls sells good authentic hawker food such as Lor Mee, Laksa, Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow, etc. Location: Jalan Bawasah. Or Entrance from Jalan Burma into Penang Plaza parking (behind Penang Plaza).
New World Park - A wide selection of good Penang Hawker food: Penang Cendol and Ice Kacang, Chee Cheong Fun, Char Kway Teow, Laksa, Hokkiwn Mee, Chinese Dumpling, Mee Goreng, etc . Location: 102 Jalan Burma. Entrance from Jalan Burma or Lorong Swatow.
Some common Nyonya dishes are:
Acar Awak – mixed vegetables of cucumber, carrots, long beans, etc., are cooked and pickled with spices.
Acar Ikan (pickled fish) – fried fish soaked in a light gravy cooked from ginger, garlic, vinegar, dried chillies and turmeric.
Ayam Buah Keluak – spicy chicken curry cooked with buah keluak (candlenuts). The curry has a creamy and nutty flavour.
Asam Pedas – spicy sour curry of fish and pineapple. Chilli Crab – spicy crab stir fried with chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, galangal,lemon grass, shrimp paste (blachan) and tamarind juice.
Lor Bak – thin strips of pork seasoned with spices and wrapped in a sheet of thin bean curd skin, and then deep fried. Restaurants in Penang often sells this with fried prawn fritters and other deep fried items served with sauces.
Nasi Ulam – rice mixed with finely shredded vegetables, fresh green herbs, shallots, chillies, toasted desiccated coconut, fried and flaked dried fish, etc. Nasi Kunyit – glutinous rice steamed with turmeric and creamy coconut milk and usually eaten with chicken curry.
Jiu Hu Char – a stir-fried dish of shredded vegetables (yambean, carrot, cabbage) and strips of cuttlefish or pork.
Nyonya Kueh – a variety of kueh (similar to cakes and puddings), mainly steamed and made from glutinous rice or rice flour and sometimes rich and fragrant coconut milk. Example: Kueh Lapis (steamed layered pudding), Ang Koo Kueh, Pulut Tai Tai, Kueh Talam, Kueh Kochi, Kueh Kodok, Pulut Enti, etc.
Otak-otak – spicy fish cake with egg, Some ingredients used in Peranakan cooking - serai, bunga kantan, galangal, etc. wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
Perut Ikan (Pulay Ikan) – shredded vegetables (long bean, brinjal, daun kaduk, etc), fresh green herbs and shreds of fish intestines cooked in a light curry with tamarind juice. This dish is unique to the Penang (and Northern) Peranakans.
Popiah (spring rolls) – turnip, bean sprout, pork, fried egg and bean curd wrapped and rolled with a paperthin steamed pancake. The rolls are sometimes deep fried and garnished with a sweetened bean or chilli sauce. Sambal Blachan – chillies and toasted shrimp paste (blachan/ belacan) mixed with lime and salt. It imparts a piquant flavour to any accompaniment that you choose to pair it with.
Where to Eat:
The Chinese and Peranakans (Baba and Nyonya)
[The following is extracted mainly from the book myPenang]
From China to Malaya
Chinese traders began their venture into the Malay archepelago mainly from the fifth centuiry AD. Chinese settlers who came as early as the 15th century, mainly traders, sailors and labourers, eventualy setttle down in here and became involved in the agricultural, mining and commercial sectors.
The outbreak of the Taiping Rebellion (1851) in China, simulated migration, especially from South China, from the provinces of Guangdong (formerly written as Kwangtung), Fujian (Fukien) and Guangsi (Kwangsi). As a result, the sizable Chinese population in the Malay archipelago in the 19th century were from the Chinese clans of the Teochew (from Guangdong), Hokkien (from Fujian), Cantonese (from Guangdong), Hakka (from the three provinces) and Hainanese (from Hainan Island).
The majority of the Chinese settled the Malay world to escape porverty in China. Chinese participation in the plantation agriculture and mining contributed vastly to the economy of the Malay state.
Many Chinese settled in the Straits Settlement (Penang, Melaka Singapore) and eventually small communities were scattered in the other Malay states.
The Chinese who arrived came from the Fujian (Fukien) province in China, settling mainly in the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca and Singapore). Some intermarried the locals and assimilated the practices of the local population, and developed a unique culture that is a blend of Malay and Chinese. These people were known in the region as Peranakans (meaning local born in Malay), or Babas (men) and Nyonyas (women), or Straits Chinese. [note: spelling in Malaysia is Nyonya, spelling in Singapore is Nonya]
Unlike the Chinese men who settled in Malacca (Melaka) and who adopted more Malay culture, the Chinese immigrants in Penang had strong ties with their families in China, and so retained many of their Chinese traditions. However, their dialect Hokkien, became peppered with local Malay words and later some English words as well. This unique Hokkien dialect, often referred to as Penang Hokkien, is widely spoken in Penang and the northern part of peninsular Malaysia.
Assimilation of some Malay culture is also seen in the Straits Chinese cultural practices and art. Penang Nyonyas adopted the wearing of the sarong kebaya (a costume of sarong with a translucent, embroidered top), and produced exquisite embroidery and decorative beadworks. Beaded shoes and the Nyonya kebaya are highly priced today. Penang Peranakans also adopted some English practices, with many sending their children to English schools. This blend of culture is unique to the Chinese in this region. (The Peranakan network or diaspora extends to Phuket, Medan, Melaka and Singapore corresponding to pattern of migration in the region)
The Nyonya cuisine, which is well known in Penang, Malacca and Singapore, also originated from the Straits Chinese. Nyonya cooking in Penang is usually a mix of Malay and Chinese ingredients and style, with some Thai influence. [Photo: Asam Pedas - Nyonya cuisine]
The Chinese also brought to Malaya the clan or kongsi system; a tradition characterised by group cohesiveness and brotherhood. The word kongsi has also been absorbed into the Malay language, taking the meaning ‘share’.
To the Chinese, a kongsi is an association of individuals from the same dialect group or clan from the same area in China. These kongsi played a benevolent role to their members and often gave help and protection to the new arrivals. Many kongsi houses were also built during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and some like the Khoo Kongsi is a landmark on the island.
There are five major Hokkien clans or kongsis (of five major surnames) in Penang known as the Goh Tai Seh consisting of the Khoo, Lim, Cheah, Yeoh and Tan kongsi. The Chinese also formed welfare associations among those of the same dialect group (for example the Hokkien or the Hakka dialect), usually referred to as hoi kuan (welfare associations). Kongsis are still active associations in Malaysia. (some of the kongsi houses of Penang HERE)
[Main Reference Source: myPenang – the inside guide to where to go and what to eat by Lim Bee Chin, 2005]
Hawker/Street Food along Penang Road
Many visitors to Penang staying in the city centre, can get good local food and a feel of old Penang, walking along Jalan Penang or Penang Road.
If you are looking for tasty authentic Penang Hawker or Street food, patronize the numerous coffee shops or cafe restaurants found along Penang road and roads brunching from it such as Lebuh Campbell, Lebuh Chulia, Lorong Kampung Malabar, Jalan Chowrasta, Lebuh Kimberly, Lebuh Tamil, Lebuh Keng Kwee, etc.
Cafe/ Restaurants facing Penang Road
- Kheng Pin Cafe - junction of Jalan Sri Bahari
- Nasi Kandar Line Clear - Junction of Lebuh Chulia
- Ho Ping Cafe- Junction of Lorong Kampung Malabar
- Joo Hooi Cafe - Junction of Lebuh Kheng Kwee
- Kek Seng Cafe - facing Komtar