The Blue Mansion: Where the ‘Real’ Crazy Rich Asians Live


The Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion, George Town, Penang 
(Source: Atlas Obscura)

Crazy Rich Asians, a romance-comedy drama movie that managed to generate $237 million worldwide at the box office, became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the past decade. By depicting the glamorous life in Singapore, many articles consider this film to be an invaluable tourism marketing vehicle for the city-state. Although the story of this movie takes place in Singapore, 5 of the filming locations are actually located in Malaysia. One of the most iconic scenes, where protagonist Rachel Chu faced off with her boyfriend’s mom in a dramatic game of Mahjong, was filmed in a house with Straits Chinese Eclectic architectural style named Cheong Fatt Tze (the Blue Mansion). 

The Blue Mansion, a well-known tourist destination in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been called the “most atmospheric Chinese hotel that isn’t in China”. This 18-room boutique hotel has serene courtyards, Chinese-carved screens, and other art nouveau accents. With an entrance ticket price of around 15 MYR, visitors can enjoy the unique architectural style of this mansion and see the many relics of the previous resident of this mansion. Not only presented with the beauty of the architectural style of this building, a bar and a restaurant are also available in this mansion which can be visited by visitors to taste the delicacy of Asian foods. 

From Jakarta to Penang: The History of the Chinese Businessman Who Establish the Blue Mansion

The name of the mansion is taken from the name of a Chinese businessman, Cheong Fatt Tze, who owned the mansion after he expanded his business to Penang–He started his career as a water carrier and shopkeeper in Jakarta. Cheong was a Guangdong native who served as the Empress Dowager’s economic advisor and worked as the Consul General in Singapore between 1840 and 1916. With his seventh wife (Cheong had 8 wives), he lived at the mansion and utilized it as an office. 

The Blue Mansion is the ideal representation of Cheong Fatt Tze’s grandeur accomplishments. Cheong Fatt Tze admired the elegant grace of ancient Chinese architecture. He was most passionate about sharing his love of culture and tradition through architecture and preserving his heritage. Famous feng shui masters are thought to have provided guidance for the construction of the mansion. It is decorated with elements that represent the basic feng shui components, including metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. However, feng shui experts still debate the significance of certain elements in the design of this building to this day.

The Crazy Rich Asian in Medan

The Tjong A Fie Mansion in Medan
Tjong A Fie Mansion)

The five-courtyard Chinese home in Medan, Indonesia belonged to a relative and business partner of Cheong Fatt Tze. Other than the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang, this Medan Mansion is said to be the only other 5-courtyard Chinese building outside of China. The Medan mansion has an eclectic blend of Dutch and Chinese components, in contrast to the Cheong Fatt Tze home, which has an architectural style of British-Chinese artisanship. The family home where Cheong Fatt Tze is buried is situated in Taipu, Guandong Province, China. The Tjong A Fie Mansion is the name given to the Medan mansion as a historical landmark up until this point.

Reporter: Rifia Azka

Penulis: Rifia Azka

Editor: Fareez Eldacca

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