Category Archives: places

Of 5 Lamps and 6 Roads

Penang Lang, do you know where this place is ?   The Hokkien folks called it “Gor Phar Teng” – 五葩灯, while I understand the Malay brethren called it Simpang Enam.   The English name was Magazine Circus.

Apparently, there was a roundabout, where the 6 roads , viz., Gladstone Road, Brick Kiln Road, Magazine Road, Dato Keramat Road, Macalister Road and Penang Road converged.  Today, I found an old photo of this roundabout, and I thought I could make out the 5 lamp posts which gave this place its quaint name.  Any disagreement ?

Alas, today Gladstone Road is no more, having been erased from the map in the 1980s to make way for the Komtar Complex.   I did not realize that until today.  Haiz, I have been away for far too long.

Of Scholars & Undertakers…

And the Twain did meet ..

Mention the name Carnarvon Street (or ” lam chan na” 烂田仔, in Chinese, meaning “poor quality swampy fields”) and, am sure the old folks of Penang will remember that was the go-to place for Books/Stationery and, Coffins !     The street was lined on both sides with maybe two dozen bookshops and a dozen casket shops.

In my secondary school days, this street was my favorite haunt – of course I went only to see and buy the books and stationery, not those fabulous “longevity lumber” or “big houses” (Chinese euphemism for coffin).    Well, I moved out of Penang in 1984, so no chance to patronize the latter business.

I have not undertaken a trip back to this place ever since moving out to Singapore in 1984.  I think there must have been a lot of changes.  People still die, but am not sure if people still read as much.

When The Studying Got Tough…..

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”  but here when The Studying Got Tough, The Tough Went Dunking …

In the twinkling of an eye, 36 years have flashed by. In this Hydraulics lab of UM, my team partner and I struggled with the construction of a wooden water tank and then the study of the effects of rapid water discharge into the sea. Fortunately for me, I knew how to use a saw, and could distinguish between a hammer and a nail – a constructive testimony to my earlier life as a kampong boy, and a student of the Technical Institute, Penang.

What a nice reprieve from all those differential equations, theorems, laws, … and a cool dip in the afternoons, doing what I love best…no brainer’s job !feeling awesome.

When Photoshops Were All Brick & Mortar

And they stood the ravages of time…..at least these two did.   And virus-proof.

Thanks to Google, I managed to make a screenshot of these two photo studios along Penang Road (Penang). They must have been around for more than 60 years, because I have seen B&W photos of people who are much older than me (from my dad’s albums) that bear the logos (in fact seals) of these two shops. These included wedding photos, 1st month naked baby photos, etc

My family members and I had quite a number of our photos taken at these shops – I think more from Siow Seong. I think many Penang Lang  should have sweet memories of these two shops.

Moon Gate

No, you won’t get to the moon via this gate,  but at least 2,723 feet closer (height of Penang Hill)

For the folks in Penang, this was kind of a challenge for all teens, to climb up to Penang Hill, via this Moon Gate (situated along the road leading to the Botanical Gardens).  The terrain up this path was quite tough.  I did that in late 1972 after the MCE exams, with a group of classmates;  we did the climb in about 2.5 hours, emerging from somewhere behind the police station (if I remember correctly).

The newer jeep road, near the entrance of the Gardens, is a piece of cake by comparison.

One day I must try again, but given my great age (am fast approaching 100 now) , I might NOT make it back to tell the story.  LOLX

Romancing The Pond

Definitely more fun than Romancing The Stone (1984 movie)

The Guillemard Reservoir in Penang.  Penang folks called it “Bak Kia Ti” or “Spectacles Pond” .This architectural marvel is simple and striking, stunningly beautiful, white and pristine.  Built in 1929, it sits atop a hill at 246 feet above sea-level overlooking the eastern half of Penang and the sea.    Due to a poisoning incident in the Confrontation days (I was told) it has been closed to the public since then, and younger generations probably do not even know of its existence.

In its heyday, this place was a “must-visit-must-take-photo” hotspot for all courting couples.   The unique spectacle-shaped twin pools were an enchanting draw for those romantically intoxicated.  I have seen quite a number of photos of relatives and their GF or BF taken at this site.

One fine day, I shall make it there with my dear wifey and take some wefies.

Hush Hush Aspects Of A Fishy Business

Pasar Bisik – or the  “Whispering Market” where fish is auctioned via close-bids.

We used to live near by the seashore in Bagan Ajam, Butterworth.   Early in the morning,  there would be small crowds gathered around the several fishing boats that the fishermen brought to shore with their hauls. Potential buyers would whisper into the ears of the fishermen and sometimes, the latter’s heads would nod or shake, along with expressions of either grimace or joy.

Hah, what a reminiscent joy of the old days !

These scenes have very largely disappeared; probably, we can still see these on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.    The beach at Bagan Ajam used to be clean – hence its name was Pantai Bersih.  Alas, now it is dirty and all kinds of rag-tag huts and makeshift stalls have sprouted up all over the place.  More like Pantai Kotor !