Category Archives: penang

Tugging At The Hard Strings

Once Upon A Time in Penang before the construction of deep-water wharves in Butterworth , the harbor waters were teeming with tugboats, each with one or two or even three “tongkangs” in tow.

These formed a vital sector of the marine transportation industry and was an iconic feature of life in Pulau Pinang in those days.

A crossing of the channel onboard a ferry would see me peering out of the windows, to watch intently how the poor little tugs labored in a gentle rock-and-roll fashion against wind and water, with black smoke spewing from their funnels as they hauled the bigger unpowered vessels.

These days, such a scene is quite rare; and when I come across one, it never fails to tug at my heartstrings.

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Human Rides In Penang

My much beloved and most favored means of transportation during my kiddo days was the Penang trishaw.

Back then, Penang Road was the go-to place, and the journey from Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda would cost my late mum a grand 30 sen !  By comparison, the fare on the rickety City Council buses was only 10 sen (kids traveled free).  But thrifty mum could not persuade me to opt for the economy plan.

Alas, I had a very bad habit of leaving things (mum’s shopping trophies) behind on these trishaws — maybe the rides were so enchanting that I forgot everything else.

Well, human rides were also practised in other towns.  But Penang’s are the best — the customers come first, whereas in other places customers are cast aside (oops, I mean they ride on the side).