Of course this is an exaggeration (not all roads led to Rome, even in its heyday). But this was the base terminal from which many express buses from all over the country operated.
During the 4 years of my studies at UM (1975-79), I called at this “mother-of-all-bus-terminals” at least 2 dozen times, as I travelled between Kuala Lumpur, and home in Penang.
Back then, it was already a hive of hyper-activity. The upper floor which housed numerous ticketing booths and eating spots was always swarming with travellers of all shapes, sizes and colours, as well as hordes of bus touts crying aloud the names of almost every major town in Peninsula Malaysia.
The lower floor roared with high decibels of engine noise and fumed with diesel smoke from the arriving and departing buses.
Those were the days – I have not been back there since 1980.
Probably everyone knows the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, but how about “the other one” atop the FMS Railway building — now known as Wisma Kastam ? (They used to call the building “the railway station without a railway”)
As a mainlander in my childhood and youth days, I knew of this one only. Like a beacon, it beckoned the arrival of passengers onboard the ferries. I recall, sometimes we could hear the chimes, as the ferries closed in to dock at the terminal, which was named Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda.
Those were the days when the skyline was reigned by beautiful colonial-architecture buildings and not dominated by ugly, uninspiring, nondescript rectangular blocks and towering concrete high-rises of the later years.
One day I shall try to climb up the inside of this heritage-class icon, to see what makes it tick, literally.
“Now we are tall, and antennae are small…. ” (old Bee Gees song still rings)…hahaha.
Do ask me why. Here’s the scoop:-
Before the advent of cable TV in Singapore and satellite TV in Malaysia, we used to see very tall TV antennae in the southern states of peninsular Malaysia, notably Johor, Melaka, and perhaps Negri Sembilan. Their heights were in proportion to the distance from Singapore, it seemed.
Reason for the tall antennae: To capture the TV signals from SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation). At that time, all the programs were “free-to-air”, and the hearts of men were not so desperate for money.
Over time, I believe most of these tall aerials have been dismantled, as ASTRO came into being, and small satellite dish antennae became the norm.
Beautiful Penang Bridge #1 …… should ask Simon and Garfunkel to come and take look.
3rd August 1985 – that was slightly over 3 decades ago – was a day of national pride when Dr Mahathir drove a bright red Proton Saga over the original Penang Bridge. I had already left my Pearl of the Orient for a year by then; still I could not help getting emo over that. A Penanglang at heart – just as I am, still.
The 13.5km long JPP meant that going over to Butterworth changed from “kuay kang” (过港) to “kuay kio” (过桥) in Penang Hokkien lingo. Motor vehicles could travel freely now without having to wait for the chug-a-chug vintage ferries.
In no small way, it paved the way for the transformation of Pulau Pinang into an economic powerhouse.