Butterworth - Ambassadress Coffe Shop
Favorite thing: Used to be very popular coffee shop with many different food stalls. In the morning, office staff of the Municipal Council will come for their breakfast and later for lunch. In the eveining, patrons to the cinema next door will come for dinner before the movie or supper after the late show. There is a hotel upstairs for outstation visitors or a quick rendesvous for a tryst.
Today, the cinema hall has closed and the municipal council has moved away. Yet the few local loyal customers still come for a cup of black coffee. An era has gone and the KFC next door reminds of the arrival of the fast moving change.
Butterworth - Padang (Town Field)
Favorite thing: Like all typical towns in Malaysia, the British town layout has a Padang (Town field) where important events were held like band marching as well as cricket games. Around the Butterworth Padang were important buildings like hospital, post office, police station and town council. The field also become an important sports arena for soccer, field hockey and netball.
But times have changed, many of these town institutions have moved to bigger buildings and the field has become smaller with addition of other buildings. This scenario is repeated in many towns in Malaysia as the role of the Padang as an important social gathering location has been drastically reduced as folks prefer indoor halls and stadiums for similar type of gatherings.
Butterworth - ugly duckling into a ....
Favorite thing: Butterworth, known as "Bagan" in Malay or "Pak Hai" in Chinese Hokkien dialect has often been dubbed the ugly step sister of George Town. The old prewar houses looked squalid and the tin smelting factory in downtown Butterworth is finally gone. There is a loop highway called PORR but it is still not open to public.
But things are improving as more new buildings are coming up in Butterworth. See the pics of old and new shop lots of Butterworth. Only if the old prewar houses can be renovated and maintained, Butterworth will have come a long way from being an ugly duckling.
Merdeka Bridge over Muda River
Favorite thing: The Muda river marked the border between Mainland Penang and Kedah.
Penang Island was ceded to the British from the King of Kedah in 1786 in return for British protectiion against Thai aggression on Kedah. Later a strip on the mainland (Province Wellesly or now called Seberang Perai) opposite Penang Island was added as protection against piracy or guarantee against launching of attacks on the island.
The north of this strip is bounded by Muda River. The south by Krian River separating from Perak State. Muda River provides water for Penang consumption, for rice field irrigation and as source for sand mining.
The famous Merdeka (Indepence) Bridge crosses the Muda River on the old trunk road between Butterworth and Sungei Petani of Kedah. The bridge was open in 1957 when Malaysia as Malaya gained independence.
Muda River Irrigation Project
Favorite thing: The Muda River Irrigation Project was an important control of water to avoid flooding and ensure ample water for double or triple planting of rice each year for Penang (as well as Kedah).
It has been successful in increasing the yield of rice and the farmer's income. The price of rice is a national control item and import of foreign rice is also controlled to ensure that Malaysia domestic rice cultivation is supported and ensured.
Walking along this canal, you will have plenty of photo opportunities and can see local using the road along the canals to get home from school or town or with their fishing lines.
Humble Residence of Malaysia PM Abdullah Badawi
Favorite thing: When stopping at Kepala Batas, we asked around where was the childhood house of our Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. Well, everyone in town knows and we actually parked by coincidence only 100m away. After all Kepala Batas is a small town.
The home is turned into an UMNO (the ruling Malay political party headed by the PM himself) branch office. There was a caretaker which allowed us into the compound for a closer look.
Behind the house, there is a school and then the current residence of the PM when he is back in town. Surprisingly or not surprising, the current residence is also a modest larger building reflecting the persona of the PM as a religious, humble, moderate and grassroot leader.
Security is definitely lax. Perhaps it is different when the PM is balik kampung (back in town) especially during the Hari Raya timeframe.
Exquisite Chinese stone and wood carvings
Favorite thing: In Penang, you can find in Chinese temples and Clan Houses (Kongsi), artisans and materials from China to create exquisite Chinese stone and wood carvings.
Many of these old, new or renovated architecture delights are funded by private collection or from rags-to-riches patrons as their contribution back to the Chinese community and the believe that it will bring the donor good luck and blessings.
You can see some of these elaborate cravings at famous old Khoo Kongsi in downtown Georgetown, new Kow Ong Yeah Temple at Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth and many other places all over Penang.