The five foot way of Georgetown Penang

Georgetown Penang in Malaysia is one of best preserved colonial cities in Asia. The city is dominated with shophouses from the 19th and early 20th century in varying states of conservation.

Georgetown Covered Walkway
[Georgetown Covered Walkway]

Every shophouse has a five foot way (kaki-lima), which is a sheltered walkway in front of each shop front. As the name suggests the walkways are five foot across, providing shelter from the tropical heat (and tropical downpours).

This style of architecture and also be found in Malacca, Singapore and other Asian cities.

Open gutter and bike ramps along a five foot way, Georgetown, Penang - Malaysia.
[Georgetown Covered Walkway Ramps]

The shops are lined up continuously so the shelter runs uninterupted between streets. However the height of the shop floors can vary, so it is never an even walking surface.

Five Foot Way, Georgetown, Penang - Malaysia.
[Georgetown Covered Walkway Bike Parking]

The walkways of the five foot way are a mixture of private and public space. Business activities spill out onto the walkways, from cafes and restaurants to wholesalers and metalworkers.

Georgetown Covered Walkway Industry
[Georgetown Covered Walkway Industry]

In front of private homes motorbikes are usually parked in the way. It is not uncommon to find the shop front open to reveal the living room of the home.

Georgetown Covered Walkway Open Gutter
[Georgetown Covered Walkway Open Gutter]

Thankfully the historical city centre became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008. So while many shophouses are slowly decaying in the tropical heat, many of the shophouses are being conserved and restored.

Georgetown Covered Walkway Shrines
[Georgetown Covered Walkway Shrines]

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