How did a young, penniless Chinese 19th century immigrant become one of Penang's wealthiest men who at various times controlled Malaysia's sugar business or the world's tin trade?
The House of Yeap Chor Ee advertises itself as a "social history gallery," and that is what it is. If you are looking for the feel of a "home" ("How did people live in those days?"), you'll be disappointed. But if you are curious about history, culture, or people, you will find the personal history of this Chinese entrepreneur totally fascinating. Along the way, you'll learn about Chinese wedding customs, you can study a graph of his unbroken 2,500-year old lineage, and yes, you'll also see some amazing pieces of inlaid furniture.
You can listen to a 20-minute interview with one of his bank employees. (This was a personal favorite of mine, though we ran out of time and I couldn't finish it.)
You're free to roam the gallery on your own; the audio tour included in the price is very good (though the actual machinery is a bit finicky at times - I wish it worked a bit better. But it does the job...)
I like to see things I normally don't see and learn about people from a different segment of life. After a slow start, I got into things and found this gallery a real treasure trove. I definitely rate this one of Penang's top attractions!
We could only stay 90 min., so I'm already planning to find a time when I can go back and look more carefully at what I missed. (And listen to the rest of that interview...)
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