Old Penang: Penang Road

Old Penang: Penang Road

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This is what Penang Road looked like in the early 20th century – we once had a car-free George Town, didn’t we?

(Click on picture to enlarge)

The foreground is the intersection of Chulia Street (left) with Penang Road. Further down Penang Road on the right, at the junction with Jalan Dato Koyah, is the three-storey Straits Echo building at No 216 Penang Road.

Notice the trolley buses, rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians – all environmentally friendly.

Thanks to Ric Francis for forwarding this picture.


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    • In 50 years time in the future, people may wish for such old world charm unseen, untouched in their days. An analogy to people’s preference for organic farm vege (not so ‘good’ looking but no chem) as opposed to chem-sprayed vege and fruits shrink-wrapped, branded and toxic.
      It really is a cycle of change in taste, experience and learning (the good & bad) that will bring us back to the good.
      One worldwide trend is back to nature, basic living and simplicity lifestyle as opposed to mass consumption and wastage of the commercialized economy.
      The Scandinavians know it very well. And they thrive well too.

  1. For those who long for the past (special dedication to anil, tunglang, ric francis etc) :

    have a few moments of nolstagic feeling and don’t get carried away LOL

    • It is not only some of us longing for the old world charm.
      Those in very advanced economies escape their ‘soulless’ environments to visit destinations to connect with whatever that give them a sense of cultures, purpose and discovery that may in some ways relate back to theirs. To ‘slow down’ their souls ravaged by so called idolized progress without purpose.
      Culture tourism and eco tourism have emerged as popular travels worldwide. Are we seeing an opportunity in front of us?

      • Anil, do it some more. And regularly!
        I like the stirring of my Lau Yah spirit which once lepak in Macalister Road and which by the way does no more ‘toxic’ harm than stir the unimaginative hard heads made of concrete, steel, aluminum and green glass.
        Time to stir my morning Kopi-O kau kau to consistent black and preferred flavor of old world charm Penang.

    • Some see the happy ghosts in the nostalgic photos and do not wish them to stir the distressed spirits of Cosmopolitan Penang!
      That’s why museums are so important for the health and sanity of our minds and spirits.

  2. Stop those jokes on the old good time please. Why look at our own belly button while outside world has many successful case using modern advancement to bring better living and preservation of sustainable environment!.
    Go check out how heavily industrialized Germany tranform the highly polluted old eastern industry, and many wonders(which narrow minded malaysian refuse to see ) of preserving living and old historical building.
    On Penang side , seems many people mind just too clogged with just car and make too much credit on stuff like MRT,LRT.
    The world technology advance to enablepersonal transport like electrical vehicle , like electric bicycle. This is ridiculous funny that people all agree that appliaces like phone and computer become cheaper, but refuse to learn changeson transport world.
    Too many people make the all sort of rubbish praise on how China make mass transit wonder in Shanghai and Beijing, but just purposely ignore those NOT SO GLAMOROUS electric bicycle that move not less population than the railroad
    Oh dear.

    • moo-t, your observation of China cities and lifestyle is no more agreeable to agree. I was in Shenzhen and between the sprawling blocks after blocks of concrete, glass and aluminum, there lived eco-friendly people etching out a living transporting pedestrians on the back seats of bicycles across busy walkways and traffic junctions. These humble human transporters are helping the cities less polluted.
      It is not all superficial changih as one might imagine from online pictures of travel sites.
      In another instance, I saw elderly cyclists precariously carrying heavy loads of carton boxes (5 times his size) folded flat to recycling centres. These are grim images of the lows of society the Mao Comrades would not want you to see.
      This is one more so called social grace progress. As I was strolling out to the street from the hotel, this elegantly dressed executive in opposite direction sudden did a P’Tui which landed 3 feet from my frozen step. And he did it as if 2nd nature! Too bad timing I did not carry a steel nunchaku.

      • Well, when you see one of theirs electricity bicycle, you probably want to get one at home. Nothing can beat these 18 century transport fit with 21st century batteries and motor. And no sweat , that many motorist love to use as excuses.

  3. There is no such things as “the good old days”…. If you bother to check the mortality rates, infant mortality, and many more things …..there is a book written by Matt Ridley, an award winning author, called “the rational optimist” on this. according to him
    ” for 200 yrs, the pessimists have dominated public discourse, insisting that all thingswill soon be getting worse. But in fact, life is getting better & at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, life span are up, disease, child mortality,& violence are down across the globe.”

    He cites facts and figures to prove his thesis…not sentiments. Interesting read.

    • Violence is down? Then go to Middle East for more Springs!
      Food is available – you mean increasing? You should be born in Africa! Or why not ask the American corn farmers why he’s not doing it for food but ethanol!
      Income up? Check average Malaysian income level.
      Disease down! New strains of viruses unheard, untouched in the coming!
      But I will spare you the agony of showing proofs as some Jaguh boyscout habitually demands.

  4. It was a time of less stress, few road accidents (can rickshaw kill meh?), more leisurely pace, more jay walking, more affordability in almost everything except big bungalows, more Hacks to cool one’s mouth after a spat with Chai Tiam Mah (sundry shopkeeper), more roadside shows like medicine men & fortune tellers, bigger, louder, merrier celebration or mourning like huge funeral processions of Kau Peh Kau Boh, and more good than bad.
    Life then was in simple perspective and equally with depth of purpose. Not confused, not manipulated, not SingKahPoh Kia Su egoism. There was no Joneses to keep up with or envy.
    I could still remember my primary school green canvass bag that lasted for many years and the few toys in Chua Lok (brown paper bag) that need no more than a few ringgit to own or hand-made myself.
    And my first hawker food: Koay Teow Th’ng was so heavenly with little ‘liao’ of 2 fish balls, few slices of chicken meat and slippery Koay Teow served hot in porcelain bowl and wooden chop sticks. Simplicity at its best.
    That’s how older generations of Penangites savored the lifestyle of Lau Yah Penang with cherished memory intact.

  5. Anil,
    Why don`t you go back 200 year before the British come. We are vehicle free. Come on man this is the 21st century. We cannot go back, we can try to improve. Can anybody guess which part of Penang Road this is.

      • I am trying to fix up a time machine to go back to the 70’s to taste Ori-Maestro Hokkien Mee with my first love in Siam Road rendezvous!
        Then maybe, if I am gatal-gatal, to change Penang history to my innermost desire!
        Who needs the Apple?

    • He is not trying to go back to past but trying to get people back to good clean transport like LRT or tram in the city. Who wants to die of bus fumes Get real mate.

  6. anil is stirring nostalgic feeling and in the process creating hatred towards development ?
    as a result, the ever mild tunglang has turned “defensive & aggressive” feeling his “home” turf being invaded and to be forced out of his beloved heritage island ?
    i suggest anil go visit ancient China cities like Hangzhou and realize how people there move on with time. Even “Hutongs” in Beijing gave ways to commercial purposes.
    Want 60’s & 70’s serene lifestyle, mainland Malaysia is still the Gems !

    • OK to be nostalgic when there is a psychological danger of persistence in comparing the past to present, and not accepting the reality in the present day.

      Successful people adapt with the environment and move on, while losers stand still and lament why the environement is unfair to him.

      • I think there were a lot of positive things in the past that we have lost. Perhaps we can learn from them.

    • Sorry Tua Kee, Mainland from Butterworth to Simpang Ampat, Seberang Jaya, Juru, Batu Kawan, Bukit Minyak, Alma BM, Bukit Tengah, etc etc etc. are congested almost everyday. Small town or villages also congested. Yes stop development but then you will not have food on the table.

      • Go check out affordable Taman Puteri Jaya, Anbangan Heights etc at Sungai Petani now famous for landscape townships. My another Penang born born has “just migrated” to SP. We don’t have to wait for car-free day to cycle. We cycle every evenings.
        Of course, Yang go and make more money now and one day when you retire you can retreat to many other unexplored places of residences. Nothing to be “pai seh” living outside Penang.

    • Please don’t nail Anil to the cross just because others of like mindedness speak out or share with nostalgic passion.
      Passion means: an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.

      Sharing of thoughts is an enshrined civilized social liberty of mankind different from the brainless animal antics.
      Whether we agree to disagree (which is much, much more suitable here) or disagree to agree (which may run riot with no ending), please allow for space to opine and then love and kiss! (no homosexual suggestion here for fear of nanti kena Sodome charges).
      If we can all do that with a little wisdom and self control (and my habit of humor) we don’t need to resort to an Arab Spring in anilnetto.com!

      Today’s afternoon is very hot (33º), outside, in my studio and in anilnetto.com! For the first time feeling thirsty just in the act of thinking and typing.

      Just thinking nostalgically: if there’s no anilnetto.com, will we be here comparing notes just like Jaguh boyscouts of facts, figures and wild making things up!
      Realized now that Nostalgic is a dirty word!


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