Stepping inside the cool front hall of the Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion is like stepping into a bygone era. It is easy to imagine the soft padded footsteps of wives, concubines, children, relatives, servants, and hangers-on scurrying in long silk gowns through the high-ceilinged rooms, most likely whispering intrigues behind intricately carved ivory fans.

The sounds of modern Georgetown fade away behind the thick walls of this flamboyant 38-room mansion built by the leading entrepreneur of South East Asia in the late 19th century, Cheong Fatt Tze – nicknamed “the Rockefeller of the East” – for his favorite (seventh) wife.  She bore him a son, whom he doted on and made universal heir, much to the chagrin of the other wives and children he had sired. One of the stipulations of his will was that this house would not be sold until the last son died. By the time he passed away, the vast inherited fortune had been squandered and this house had fallen into desperate disrepair.  37 families were actually squatting in the rooms, rent being collected by an aged daughter in law. When she passed away and the completely dilapadated mansion came upon the market in 1990, it was bought by Penang-born architect Laurence Loh, his wife Lin Lee Loh-Lim and a group of local conservationists with the purpose of restoring it using as much of the original fabric as possible.  The Lohs, along with a team of artisan experts,  dedicated the next years to painstaiking restoration, going to great lengths to retain the original integrity of  the construction.

The Mansion had been built keeping strictly to traditional geomantic or Feng Shui rules.  During the process of restoration,  the house revealed its secrets, such as the back part of the house being raised by one stair in order to give the impression of being on a hill, several gold coins being buried in auspicious corners to attract wealth, and certainly using flowing water in ways that bring harmony to its inhabitants.   The restoration efforts of the new owners were rewarded by receiving the UNESCO “Most Excellent Project” Award 2000 as well as many others.  In 1992, the Mansion was used as a main setting for the movie “Indochine” with Catherine Deneuve.  In the mid-2000’s the movie “The Blue Mansion” (a great murder mystery by director Glenn Goei). Currently it a most lovely hotel to stay in.  Click on this link fo a good tour through the rooms.

Interestingly, symmetry seems to be of equally strong importance for buildings built according to Feng Shui principles as it was to Antonio Palladio, the Italian master architect of the 17th century.  But that is just an aside…

If/when I return to Georgetown, I will certainly make sure to stay there again – not only was it a wonderful experience to spend the night with the overhead fan gently swaying the mosquito netting, but also in sipping a drink in the quiet of the central courtyard and being visited by the resident cat, who deigned to sprawl – most unladylike – next to me on the cool marble floor.

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7 Comments

  1. Liebe Senaida.

    viel Gesundheit und Glück in 2010 und einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr. Es ist immer eine große Freude, Ihre Berichte zu lesen! DANKE!

    Carola

  2. Liebe Zenaida,

    2010 soll Dir weiter spannende und aufregende Reiseerlebnisse bringen – Glück und Erfolg für alles was Du machst.

    Der Bericht über das Blue Mansion war hoch interessant, genre wäre ich dabei gewesen. Freue mich immer über Deine Berichte und schon auf den Nächsten…

    Herzlichst Caroline.

  3. Liebe Caroline,
    als Hotel war die Blue Mansion sicherlich nicht super-Luxus, aber die Atmosphaere war wirklich wunderbar und ich wuerde jederzeit wieder dort wohnen wollen.
    Herzliche Gruesse,
    Zenaida

  4. Liebe Zenaida,
    Ich wünsche Ihnen viel Erfolg und ein spannendes Leben im Jahr 2010 (und noch zig weiteren Jahren:)) Ich erinnere mich oft Sie und hoffe, dass Sie Mal irgendwann wieder vorbei kommen werden. Blumenausstellung in Türi wartet auf uns.:)

    Liebe Gruesse von der Rose und mich,
    Julia Hölscher

  5. Danke, liebe Julia, ganz bestimmt machen wir so etwas wie Tueri nochmal! Ihnen und Dieter weiterhin auch alles Gute im guten Restaurant in Estland!
    Zenaida

  6. Hola Zenaida,

    tal lo prometido en el ITB, estoy visitando tu Blog, y descubro y redescubro rincones en el mundo que también he visitado… una delicia!

    Este verano pasado estuve en Georgetown visitando la Mansión Cheong Fatt Tze, y lamento haber estado en otro Hotel. Esta es una de las obras privadas de Arquitectura que más me han impresionado en el mundo.

    Also, weiter so… dándole coraje a las mujeres para que viajen solas por el mundo!

    Por favor avísame la próxima vez que estén en Berlin,

    Un saludo, Amanda

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