Island in the sun…

I first went to Penang in December 1973 and I loved the place then. The trishaws ruled the road and everything was cheap and nice. I think it was a duty-free island at the time. I was staying with a friend in Pulau Tikus and I remember watching the dragon boat race at Gurney Drive, going up Penang Hill, trying my first Penang laksa (Yucks!)…and even going to Carmen’s Inn at Merlin Hotel (Now Bayview) to see the Alleycats.

The next time I went to the island again was in the late 80s when I attended a course at RECSAM. Everything had changed. The roads were infested by a multitude of motorcycles and cars as well and everytime I had to cross the road, I had to make a dash for it or else I would have to wait forever. I was there again with my family in the 90s. The traffic in the city was still as bad…and I think by then, KOMTAR was already standing tall – the tallest building in the country at the time…


Today, it is still part of the city’s skyline but the last time I was there, it was like a deserted, haunted house. All the shops had closed – gone bankrupt or moved elsewhere except for a few miserable ones with hardly any customers. On the other hand, the mall next door was bustling with life! 

But when I went last year, I found that the traffic had improved tremendously. There are now new roads everywhere but I would think that the shops need a new coat of paint to make the city centre look more presentable, especially now that the city has been made one of the heritage centres in the country. The other day, I walked around the vicinity of the hotel where I was staying and saw some old buildings that have been nicely restored and preserved…

Penang heritage 1

This one houses the Indian restaurant “A passage thru’ India”, next to a Japanese restaurant. I’ve heard of the place though I’ve never dined there. I certainly hope to check it out some day. And this one has been turned into a pub…

Penang heritage 2

…the Uptown Bistro. Another place that caught my attention was a cinema along Penang Road. From the posters, I guess that it only shows Indian (Tamil) movies and while a movie is on, you can actually hear it outside. That was reminiscent of the cinema in the late 70s in Kanowit;I was thinking then that those who were poor and could not afford to go and see the movie could at least, sit outside and listen to it. And they have this outside the cinema… 

Penang kacang putih stall

I remember in my younger days, we had these stalls outside the cinemas and we would buy our sweets, chewing gum and tidbits before going in to watch a movie. This particular stall it seems, sells the Indian delicacies like muruku, kacang putih and so on.

I think we should try and restore and preserve those old buildings that represent our rich historical past instead of demolishing them…or redoing them so much that they are simply no longer the same (like in Singapore! Today it is more like one giant Disneyland, I would think!) Sadly, most of the old buildings in Sibu are gone. Sungai Merah no longer has any hint of what it used to look like. As far as I know, only the shops along Old Street (now renamed) have stood the test of time.

Unfortunately, I only had one brief evening to explore the areas around the hotel where I was staying in Georgetown. But I did manage to meet a few Penang bloggers that night – two, to be exact. This is Faizal of… 

Penang blogger faisaladmar

I think I ended up in his blog through a link in zewt’s or somebody’s, I can’t exactly remember. He has put up a post about our meeting-up that day, so you can all click the link and go over to have a look at our photos. Eyew!!! The two of them equal one of me!!! Gosh! Am I that huge? ROTFLMAO!!! Faisal brought along with him another blogger, Joseph – born in Kuching, grew up in Sandakan and working in Penang…

Penang blogger Joseph

Just fancy that! Three strangers from three different corners of the country getting together and ending up as friends, isn’t that nice? Joseph’s blog,, it seems, is more politically inclined and if I’m not mistaken, he has more than one.

I could not get to meet Jenn of but God willing, our paths will cross one day. And don’t worry, Faisal and Joseph! It was just a brief encounter no doubt, but I was glad to have made the acquaintance with you guys and we’ll meet again some day, won’t we? Cheers!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

34 thoughts on “Island in the sun…”

  1. Do you do blogroll exchanging? If you want to exchange links let me know.
    Email me back if you’re interested.

    Thanks for dropping by. I’ve added you to my blogroll…and dropped comments in your blog, so I did not send u a separate email. Cheers!

  2. So you are now back in Sibu? You do make friends through your blog eh? It keeps you very occupied – even more so than when you were still working? I suppose this is better than teaching?

    I guess as a teacher, one’s circle of friends is limited to the colleagues in the school but my circle was a lot bigger – nationwide as I was involved in a lot of things…and I had my other circle of friends from the afternoon show on TraxxFm and now I’ve a new circle among the bloggers. It’s good to be keep oneself occupied; as the English proverb says, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop!”

  3. Having so muh fun nampak? he he he .. Good la. Bila mau datang KL?

    Yes, it was always nice to make friends and get together whenever we can. Go KL? Nanti bayang Cibol pun tak nampak – gone into hiding!…Right or not, Melbie? ROTFLMAO!!!!

  4. Uptown bistro has a really good free nyonya buffet on weekday evenings if you buy a jug of beer. My dad and his friends go every week.

    Yes, I saw the notice. Guess it’s for office workers who would like to avoid the rush home after office hours. The trouble is I don’t drink beer anymore…as it seems to trigger my gout attacks! Have stopped all intake of alcoholic drinks even though people tell me certain beers are alright and wine and liquor are fine. No thanks! LOL!!!

    Thanks for dropping by, Bernard…and do come again. Have you seen your photo in an earlier post? Thanks again for taking me and my daughter out for lunch. Do come to Sibu sometime…

  5. Putting photos of young blokes too! Don’t tell me u r also doing matchmaking on the side.LOL! I do missed the old sungei merah with those rows of shops where we can get our ‘long-ngo,pompia n kongterng’! Now all replaced with contemporary shophouses. What a pity!Guess have to move forward with time. Speaking of movies, went to see ‘College Trip’ with Martin Lawrence, Raven N Donny Osmond in it just now. If any of u think u r one of those over-protective parents or just can’t let go of the fact that our kids have to grow up,this movie highly recommended,funny n touching at the same time! Great snapshots of Penang STP!Good job!

    Haiya…people nowadays where got young-young think of getting married! Not like somebody I know, fresh out of school, terus kahwin!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!…No more! You go Sg Merah today you can hardly recognise it anymore!

  6. I honestly think that the government should take an important role to preserve the old buildings and not simply grant these developers the permit to build new ones. The old buildings that are rich in culture and design represents our history!

    I agree. Like in Sibu, my dad had a shop along Old Street…so even today, I can tell my daughter this was the shop where her Kong-kong ran his business. This was the one selling nice kompia. Our family doctor had her clinic here etc… Once demolished, all those ties to one’s past would be gone for good.

  7. Amen brother, Penang laksa is indeed “YUCKS”

    But Lindy Sister 1 loves it so much! Even Sarawak Club’s one she says very nice! LOL!!!

  8. I told her it looks like shredded news paper in trash truck juice.. needless to say, she defended Penang Laksa..

    She has acquired the taste for it…, not me! Like the daun ketumbar they use to garnish Sarawak laksa or other dishes in Kuching – I’d usually get rid of that before eating even though I have learnt to eat it. Don’t really like the smell!

  9. You so famous now…
    Why don’t you be a full time blogger and earn money…

    No need lah! Money isn’t everything! I just do it for the fun of it!…And when I get bored and tired, I will just stop. Nothing to lose!

  10. Govt not restoring old buildins now lo… latest is they are very busy monitering Bloggers like you..maybe not you la ..ha ha ha. Enjoy it before you are restricted man.. I will stop reading your post when you need a sirim and halal chop on your post don;t laugh will happen soon ..unless..he he he

    Hah! Harp on sensitive issue! Maybe the Health Ministry will ban my blog! Causing obesity!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!!!

  11. It was fun to meet blogger which it was my first experience meeting you. So you are lucky to be the first one haha!

    KOMTAR’s shops went bankrupt because they built Prangin Mall beside it. Even Super Komtar the famous supermarket in KOMTAR moved! So KOMTAR has becomes a working space for government even though there are some shops still open in there. It was very different few years back I agree…

    I agree with you that old building should be repainting and government should put some effort to take care of these old buildings. Many of them have been demolished for some new houses and other things. That is so bad…

    About Penang Laksa, I was shock to see some of you don’t like it. I am not a fan of Laksa but Gamma Laksa is good. Maybe I will take you there someday but if you really don’t like the taste of the fish in the soup… I guess you won’t like it anyway lol.

    The pictures taken by you were spontaneous and I thought you were text messaging. Hehe… it was nice meeting you. Hopefully we can meet up again in the future.

    Wow! Long comment! LOL!!! They say I’ve got the blogger’s disease…click…click…take photos of everything!!! More natural like that mah! Hahahahahaha!!!! I don’t like the smell of the bunga kantan…but the West Malaysian teachers here simply love it!!! U must come…and taste our Sarawak laksa!!! Not the same as curry mee, it’s in a league of its own!!! Nice, very nice!!!

  12. Hahaha… cibol, seems like you’re going to hear that hilang bayang comment for sometime 😛

    As for me, I still have a lot of states that I want to visit.. never been to Penang either.. haihhh.. and even more frustrating, my parents are going this September and I couldn’t join them!!! 😦

    You’ve never been to Penang?…Aren’t there direct Air Asia flights to KK? I guess it’s cheaper and nearer for you people to go to Clark’s…and drool over the Filipino men. Hahahahahahaha!!!!!

  13. STP…I never been to Penang too…but Manila…yeahhh! Yang jauh dah pergi, yang dekat belum lagi…hahahaha!

    Gosh! Another one! Should make a trip there!…Perpaduan! LOL!!! And can meet fellow-bloggers!

  14. With reference to KPenyu’s comments, some Malay chap by the name of Rahman called in, and commented that he likes the blog, and wanted a halal version.. something like a Malaysian version of the American Idol.. HAHAHAHA.

    I was wondering who he was. Sounded like a potential liwat-er!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!!!

  15. The smell of Bunga Kantan? Hehe I love the smell and the taste of Bunga Kantan… I’d put a lot in my meals!

    I haven’t tasted Sarawak’s Laksa but I don’t like Kedah and Johore’s Laksa. Maybe because I’m too attached with Penang’s food! Lol.

    Yes…you must take time off to come to Sarawak. Great food! Sekali cuba, mahu lagi!!!

  16. I have no liking for penang laksa as well. Nothing beats Kuching laksa!

    So far only Lindy Sister 1 likes it….LOL!!!

  17. don’t know about the laksa..but gadis Penang beat gadis Sarawak hands down… ha ha ha I in trouble now??? ha ha ha ha

    As far as I know, the only Penang girl you know is Bdq…and she’s from Sarawak! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

  18. Not sure when kepenyu has time for sarawak girls when he’s in KK all the time to compare sarawak girls with penang girls. You haven’t been to Penang that often too have you to know that much about penang girls?

    Yalor!…The only Sarawak girls he knew were those who parked themselves at his house during his school days, and I didn’t know of any Penang girls…just one from Malacca! As fishermen would say, “the one that got away”!!!!…..ROTFLMAO!!!!!!

  19. ha ha ha ha….I meant Sarawak girls only like White hair people ba… ha ha ha ..I would have proven my point tomorrow night..ha ha ha ha

    Got meh? Tot the wife is Australian?…Hmmm…straying into tajuk haram again!!

  20. ..and I like Faisal’s T-shirt too…wah..official campaign colour kah??? sikit green on the collar too.
    ..and why Joseph’s choice to work there??? ..the girls better there ba..ha ha ha ha ha

    Ask Bdq lah!!! Oso chose to work in Penang, go home song-song, free lodging, free makan, everything free, don’t want!

  21. Omg, I looked so excited. I was actually not well-groomed tat nite.. sob

    Took u by surprise!!! That’s what we always do when we meet…clicking away! LOL!!! Don’t worry…you look fine!!!

  22. kpenyu2000: yup, the girls here are cute.. @_@

    So that’s why you’re there lah?…Why still single leh? The girls very expensive, izzit? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  23. I hear somebody said Penang char bor beat Sarawak char bor hands down? Sure? HAHA! Go meet some Kelabit, Kenyah or Kayan girls and tell me again 😛

    I had the same response for Penang Laksa when I tried it behind a drain. Well the famous shops always located next to the drain 😛 Yucks!

    They say the most beautiful Malaysian girls are from Sitiawan, Perak…a lot Miss Malaysia!…Our ethnic beauties have hearts of gold some more, unlike many city girls! Make good wives!!!

  24. your first went to Penang in December 1973, my parents belum kahwin lagi LoL…

    OK. I get your point. I am VERY old! (But young at heart!) LOL!!!

  25. Yes, the direct flight from KK to Penang started sometime mid year last year 😀 last year I still have to pay for my car monthly installment.. so don’t have spare money to go for travelling hehehe .. gaji kecil bah 😛

    Drool over Filipino men?? Ala.. I haven’t been on that flight to Clark either… and I heard that AirAsia won’t fly direct to Clark anymore.. giving way to its Filipino sub-company or something like that

    Save! Spend less!…Gaji saya oso very kecil!!! Worse still, now pencen dah!!! Sob! Sob!

  26. …..stp..tell your bongkersz friend to start IT Club.. I want to be a member. Kg.N Boy can apply to be President. ha ha ha .. “..KELAB iT..” ha ha ha

    ..Tin Tin Deputy President?????

    No lah! His dahling not from that group! KNB oso no more…he didn’t buy tambun biscuits for the father and Tin Tin didn’t do that either, so end of story lah!!! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!

  27. What is Kelab IT?
    Haiyoh… why limit ourselves to Malaysian girls? So many better ones in the countries surrounding Malaysia… except Singapore la. With Air Asia and internet senang senang lar… Heheh.

    Didn’t get it ah? Never mind! What u don;t knoww on;t hurt you! Ignorance is bliss! Hahahahahaha!!!! Oooo…so you’re looking for one on the net kah? Hmmm…interesting! Mail order bride? LOL!!!

  28. oohh.. u stayed at cititel.. we owis stayed at one of the hotels there at tanjung bungah.. love the beach there..

    I’m not a beach person. Won’t mind some place cool in the hills though! Otherwise, anywhere that is near…food! LOL!

  29. lol.. suituapui = food

    kinda miss penang food now… feel like making a short 1 day trip there…

    Or get on one of those RM9 Air Asia flights to Sibu…or even Kuching. Bongkersz there! Food’s cheaper and nicer.

  30. Haha… sounds like you know a lot about the older days in Penang. You from there ? LOLZ…

    I always keep my eyes open and I remember places, so I know my way around well…like in KL or Singapore as well.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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