Old Penang: Sungai Ara


Blog reader Ah Chuan shares his memories of Sungai Ara.


I am Penang born and I have migrated to another country for over 25 years. I am a technical consultant for a leading Bank.

I can still remember vividly living in Sungai Ara hills with my grandmother in the early sixties and seventies. There were no proper roads leading up the hills except a jungle path with stepping rocks and gravel.

There was no electricity at that time and we used to burn a type of carbide and kerosene lamps for night light.

We got water supply from a water source up in the hill and used bamboo sticks as a pipeline to supply water to the house for cooking and bathing.

The hills were surrounded with rubber trees amidst which my mother worked as a rubber tapper; also there were plenty of fruit trees.

I miss Sungai Ara hills very much and I hope it stays as beautiful forever.

Share with us your memories of old Penang. Just drop a few lines in the comments below.

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its so convenient to blame pakatan when BN ruled Penang for decades. sustainable development is the key thats all i can say. like many i have migrated but remain malaysian and come back to penang as often as i can. i grew up in green lane and brought up my kids in sg ara. we still love coming back to sg ara and we especially love the market area. the walks up the hill was quite pleasant but due to the abandoned bungalow projects, the trees and plants are overgrown and it looks a bit unsafe to walk there..


There used to be orange beetles flying into homes in the innercity George Town in the lazy afternoons. Due to the abundance of old trees along some streets like Macalister Road & Kelawai Road, these insects were in abundance. The same for other city species like praying mantis living among us. The walking shrimps of Sg Ara mentioned by Steven, I had seen in the jungle streams at Pantai Keracut. Just blinded them with torch light & they were easy catch. Body length could be as big as 5 inch long (excluding claws)! Yes, very delicious when BBQ-ed rare &… Read more »

Steven Tan

When the Sungai Ara River was still pristine, there used to be big shrimps with claws and they would crawl by the riverside. My mom used to catch and cook them. Taste better than lobster due to the freshness. Till one day MPPP came and washed their equipment in the river. That was the end of all the species! P.S. Have anyone seen walking shrimps? When will the folks in Penang stand up to protect whatever which is left on this island? No doubt the current government is better than the predecessors, administrating is a different manner as all politicians… Read more »


Ah Chuan, I think I understand your views. But change and development are inevitable, as the population increase and its our nature to improve our lives. But we can try our best to balance and ensure change do not bring bad things in the future. For example, I am sure some people, still yearn for the days when Green Lane was still largely a beautiful orchard. Or the days when KOMTAR never existed.

Ah Chuan

Sengkeat, Thank you for your thoughts and challenges. I believe many of us who have migrated overseas shared the same feelings to return home one day. It is not only a proper planning that is required. What you need is a government that is trustworthy, honest and accountable. A government that is willing to listen and provide an equal and fair opportunity for the people, regardless of race and religion. This is a government that you need to support. I will return home to be with you and cast my vote for a change in a better government. No matter… Read more »


I like what you said, but I assume you are now leaving in a foreign country that have all the nice modern facilities. Would you give all that up and come back to stay in what you wrote? What is needed is a proper planning.

Gerakan K

Old Penang soon will be replaced by new concrete Penang if we don’t act in next GE. We should call concrete Penang, condos Penang, shopping mall Penang, istana Penang for orang putih.

You can see the original / old / green Kampung Buah Pala has been cleared for HIGH END housing projects during unfortunate period of governance by Pakatan.

Why still chanting for CHANGE when the old and original Penang is the best for us ???


That is why we will continue to support PR. No change in Penang.