Category Archives: Penang ferry

Terminal Recall

This photo was probably a scene from the early 60s, after the Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim was opened in 1959.  Oh, so peaceful and serene, as compared to today’s bedlam.

I was barely 10 years old then.  But I can still remember the 5 beautiful ferries that plied between this terminal and the one on the Island.

Four main bus companies made their “bases” there – they were the UTC, the Central Province Wellesley, the Sam Lian Omnibus, and one other which plied between Baling/Kulim and Butterworth.

The voices of those ‘bus ushers’ with umbrellas, hollering “Bukit Mertajam, Parit Buntar, Nibong Tebal, Kuala Muda, Kepala Batas, Titi Timbol, Padang Serai, Alor Star, Sungai Petani” etc., still ring in my ears.

Oh yea, we had Mercedes-Benz  taxis parked nearby too. And the sea waters came almost right to the bus/car park.

A ‘Vibrant’ Old Ferry Tale

The Grande Old Dame of the Penang ferries.  Built in Singapore in 1948, it was a one of a kind — it could dock at both the old terminals (Mitchell Pier & Church Street Pier) and the new (1959) terminals (Sultan Abdul Halim & Raja Tun Uda).

The Pulau Pinang was subtly different from the other 4, which were built in Hong Kong in 1959, viz., the Pulau’s Aman, Tioman, Langkawi and Pangkor.   It had wide gaping ‘mouths’ at both ends (maybe like Ronald McDonald’s) and, had only a single funnel (smoke stack). The other 4 had twin funnels (though one of the twin was a dummy).  

Compared to the current generation ones, this ferry was certainly more elegant-looking.

But for some uncanny reason, its engines seemed to resonate with the structure, causing vibrations that occurred every one to two minutes.  I remember this “vibrant” feature to this day.