COMMENT | A few days ago, my wife and I took our youngest son, Achilles Bustaman Azlee, who is one year old to Penang. One of the main reasons was to bring him on the iconic ferry ride from Butterworth to George Town on Penang Island before the ferries are retired. Most Malaysians would have experienced taking the Penang ferry service.
It was definitely a trip for nostalgic reasons. I’m 42 years old and the ferry service has been around for 126 years. I don’t remember the first time I went on the ferry. I was too young. My parents had brought me on a road trip around Peninsular Malaysia when I was one and Penang was one of the stops. No bridge then, so it was the ferry that brought us there.
But over the years, I have been on the ferry so many times that I have lost count. But each time, it was an experience that was full of joy and fun. I remember when I was around nine, my family used to live in Alor Setar. We would go to Penang most weekends, and my parents would make it a point to take the ferry instead of the bridge.
We would line up with all the other cars and my parents’ music would be blaring on the car cassette player, The Carpenters and Bee Gees, and we would be singing along. Once the car was on the ferry, we would all jump out and head to the second floor of the ferry. There was a tuck shop there and we would order drinks like Milo, soya bean or chrysanthemum tea.
What awaits once we arrive on the island is also something that we were anticipating. Penang was a place we went to eat good food, walk the beaches, enjoy the shopping and so much more. It was an all-round good and happy time. So my association with the Penang ferry has always been positive, happy and joyful.
The ferry wasn’t just all for fun. It allowed lay people to...