Secret gardens of Bangkok Lane

Secret gardens of Bangkok Lane

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Blog reader tunglang captured the following images of the picturesque houses along one of the prettiest streets of Penang, Bangkok Lane.

Poster by tunglang

Earthly temptations in Bangkok Lane’s ‘secret gardens’

An old world charm of botanic splendour,
nestles within serene spaces of a heritage enclave.
tangoing in the morning breeze,
every green luxuriates in June summer solstice.
secret rendezvous,
soft garden path,
cricket soliloquy,
designer horticulture,
welcoming corridor embrace.
Enticing to creatures who love the good ol’ days,
Of shaking khakis & drinking tea under cool green canopies.
Oh, such earthly delights in ‘secret gardens’ of Bangkok Lane.
– tunglang

Pictures taken in June 2012.


  1. If someone carry some research, it will definitely reveal interesting anecdotes about this particular area of P.Tikus. Just look at the building at the traffic lights at the Kelawai Rd-Cantonment Rd junction on the NE section if you are on Cantonment Road going straight to Gurney Drive…..must have Thai influence.

  2. People should encourage to live in such places but many are making beehive for modern housing and then renting those houses and converting them into business premises. So after 6pm, these places become a dead lorong, lifeless and souless.

    • It used to be ‘alive’ in inner town George Town before the abolishment of the Rent Control Act. Many were staying tenants paying cheap rentals in order to stay in town to work or to do business. And many were of different races in the ‘rojak mix’ of neighborhood.
      The life of old trades were flourishing, some handed down the generations.
      Colorful, interesting & at times quirky! Have you seen ‘Tarzan’ the blacksmith doing his round with a football rattle? His unmistakable short & stout figure, hairy & bare chested & kung fu styled black pants with a bamboo pole to carry his tools of trade was an unforgettable icon when it was time to repair the leaking kettle or to sharpen the scissors.
      And there was this Tan Tong Tong solo-karaoke in the streets at night to sell his fortune telling consultancy!
      Such interesting snippets of life, day & night in inner town George Town.

  3. Ya, tunglung, thanks…

    I notice that the row of houses are all white except two in brown. I hope no more green or red will come up knowing Malaysians…

    Who are the occupiers now?

    Many of the tenants had moved out since de-controlled during Gerakan’s time because they no longer could afford the increased rentals.

    • Yes, and Gherkin has the cheek to rant about affordable housing. Well, we all know about how Malaysians like to be unique. Let’s hope we don’t get a dome on top of one of the houses.

    • Some of the houses are used for commercial purposes while some remain as private homes in true authenticity. Let’s hope it keeps that way, no noisy pubs, restaurants or cafes like Madras Lane & Lorong Selamat.
      I just got a gut feeling of Thai cultured influence besides its name sake. The folks here are sensible to architectural taste to keep their homes all white (Thai?) with bamboo venetian blinds for a tropicana look of practicality.
      If you observe carefully, there is no frontage grilled fencing to the ceiling top unlike those ‘Kia Si & Kia Lang’ in Lebuh Armenian (Canon Square). This reflects the spirit of neighborliness in Bangkok Lane. You should try to drop in to have a cuppa of afternoon tea with them in their private/secret gardens!
      In the 60s, bungalows along Macalister Road used to have the iconic colonial styled green & white striped bamboo blinds to keep cool & comfy & for occasional ‘camouflage’ in privacy whispering chit-chat at verandahs.
      Some things are truly timeless & worth preserving for its beauty, cultural values & practicality in the tropics.

  4. If only Madame Pykett is still around, she would add more joy to our souls, more meaning to our existence & more sanity to our senses.
    My spiritual tribute song to her:

  5. No other ‘lorong(s)’ (lanes) in old world charm Penang exude the unique spontaneous co-existence of nature & concrete but cultured ambience as Lorong Bangkok. The care & love of gardening goes beyond mere beautification of man’s living spaces.
    Here, I find spiritual connectivity, recuperative energies & serenity for my soul in the smallest plants, the waving bamboos, the secret corners & the natural green sprouting in carefree spirit of botanica in the city.
    My sincere admiration for the green fingers folks of ‘secret gardens’.

    I will still be tempted to explore & relive the earth-bound botanic splendour in old world charm Bangkok Lane (besides the famed Mamak Mee Goreng).

    X-plore & relive online: &


    • If you feel, think & paint or want to paint like Claude Monet, here’s one place to paint your impressionism: a2 Gallery.
      You don’t need to buy some land & craft a garden in order to paint like him. Just pop in to this gallery with a secret garden.
      Here’s some details from
      PAINT LIKE AN ARTIST is an art program that allows you to create your own art piece at our studio with all art materials provided. No worries about how to begin to paint or even picking up a paint brush! Our professional artist will teach and guide you along until you complete a great piece of your own art.
      There’s nothing greater than creating your own art piece.

  6. I don’t know about others but for me, this is where it all began. Boh piah, bay eiah. The whole street was full for a DAP ceremah. The part that got me rolling was the parking receipt collection, which was equivalent to stamp collecting elsewhere. When you found the receipt for a prehistoric demand, it was like winning a lottery ticket.

    The most beautiful residential area in Penang, I reckon.


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