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The ironsmiths of Pekan Darat

Preserving an amazing apprenticeship culture of more than 150 years 

Somewhere off a quiet rural road in a secluded area known as Pekan Darat (literally translated, “the town on land”) is an unassuming little village unheard of by the outside world. Nothing much really seems to stand out as one enters Permatang Benuan among the small houses and huts that lie scattered around. One sees chickens scuttling about and children playing in the neighbourhood. 

Pekan Darat ironsmiths

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Kuala Muda fishing village and whispering market

Where fisher folk keep alive a most quaint and unusual tradition of bidding

Pasar Bisik © Adrian Cheah

The political boundary between the states of Penang and Kedah is partly defined by a majestic age-old gift of nature. This is the magnificent Sungai Muda river which meanders quietly but imposingly from the Ulu Muda rainforests deep in the interior of peninsular Malaysia towards the Straits of Malacca. 

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Merdeka Bridge

A historic link across the Muda River memorable for its bowstring design

Merdeka Bridge © Adrian Cheah

This is quite likely the oldest road connection across the natural water boundary separating Penang and its neighbouring state of Kedah. It is also one of the most historic inter-state links in Malaysia. 

The Merdeka Bridge was so named as it was intentionally launched in 1957, the very year Malaysia attained independence from the British. The structure had already been completed and opened in 1955.

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Pinang Tunggal railway bridge

Triumph of modern British engineering in a remote corner of Seberang Perai

Pinang Tunggal railway bridge © Adrian Cheah

For almost an entire century folks at a rural northeastern quarter of Seberang Perai called Pinang Tunggal were familiar with a solid black-coloured wrought iron bridge that hulked over the Muda River. 

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Guan Yin Ting Dou Mu Gong Temple

A marvellous blend of aesthetics and mythology from ancient China

Guan Yin Ting Dou Mu Gong Temple

Flaunting vibrant and scintillating traditional architecture, this new major religious landmark constructed in 2015 is also remarkable in that it features two main divine maternal deities – the Guan Yin Ting (Goddess Kuan Yin) and the Dou Mu Gong (Goddess Tou Mu Kung).

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Wat Photichareantam

A historic Buddhist sanctuary gifted by the Siamese of Butterworth

Wat Photichareantam by Adrian Cheah

Located in Sungai Puyu, north of the Raja Uda area, this tranquil and idyllic Siamese temple is nestled amid a lush and peaceful setting, away from the bustle of Butterworth town. 

It was built prior to the Second World War by the Siamese community that once thrived here. Today it is among a handful of other Siamese religious temples and monasteries in the state of Penang, including others in Penanti and Bukit Mertajam on the mainland, and at Burma Road on the island. These were the places where there were important Siamese settlements that have now either dwindled or disappeared.

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Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

In memory of one of the most tragic natural disasters to hit Asia

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial © Adrian Cheah

The coastal fishing settlement of Kuala Muda was among the worst places to be hit in Malaysia when the dreadful and infamous tsunami disaster affected the Indian Ocean and its surroundings on December 26, 2004.

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The military pillbox of Bumbong Lima

A forgotten relic whose serenity belies a wartime crisis of the past 

British war pillbox © Adrian Cheah

The sleepy hinterland of Bumbong Lima in Seberang Perai is better known for its iconic Merdeka Bridge which spans across the great Sungai Muda river, bisecting the state of Penang on this side from neighbouring Kedah in the north.

While people crossing the bridge are generally aware that there is some historical significance attached to this monument, they invariably fail to notice another object of equal historical import lying nigh around.

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British-Siam boundary stone

A forlorn and fascinating remnant of Penang’s age-old border intrigue

Siam-British boundary stone © Adrian Cheah

Who would have thought that one of the oldest and most significant relics of Penang’s ancient border politics would lie quietly, undisturbed in the open, at a far-flung and unknown corner of the state for more than a hundred years?

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Tow Boo Kong Temple

An epic edifice where gods descend on Earth

Tow Boo Kong Temple by Adrian Cheah

This is the most famous place of worship in Raja Uda, and indeed in the whole of Seberang Perai. The intricately designed Tow Boo Kong Temple sited on the northern end of Jalan Raja Uda was built in honour of the Nine Emperor Gods. 

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Public artworks and murals

Unleashing creative energies in the urban realm

Art at Jalan Raja Uda

Jalan Raja Uda may be better known for its food, festivals, temples and streetscapes, but of late a series of fresh creative expressions of art have burst into the scene, adding another novel layer of fascination to the area.

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