Sunday, 27 July 2008

Roundabout Another Island

The sun wasn't quick to burn through this first morning, so we decided to carry out our plan which involves going around the island, literally. The plan was to head west towards Teluk Bahang, then south towards Balik Pulau, east to Air Itam and finally back north to Georgetown while taking joyrides on the more exotic Rapid Penang routes in the process.

U101: PHJ521 (Rapid Penang Shen Long) Weld Quay->Teluk Bahang
U101 starts from Weld Quay, heads west to the beach resorts of Tg Bungah and Batu Ferringhi and ends at the sleepy residential development of Teluk Bahang located at the northwestern tip of the island. Met a group of Singaporeans on board the bus as well and they headed back towards Georgetown on the next U101 from Teluk Bahang as they couldn't quite decide why they had taken this service in the first place to see a street of crumbling residential developments.

For some reasons due to the massive seaside bungalows, elevated roads and the twisting roads seem to remind me of Hong Kong Repulse Bay.

Looking back towards Tanjung Bungah. There are many weathered rocks scattering the shoreline. My friend who is travelling with us says its due to chemical weathering from the rounded features, as opposed to jagged rocks that signify physical weathering.
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The town of Teluk Bahang.
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And then we waited...and waited...and waited for a good 100 minutes before we sighted T501, our next bus to Balik Pulau. Timetable says 60 minutes frequency but apparently there was only 1 bus servicing the route.

T501: PHJ1346 (Rapid Penang JAC) Teluk Bahang->Balik Pulau

However, the wait was quite worth it as the driver was good! The route climbed steeply after leaving Teluk Bahang to reach the top of Teluk Bahang dam, and a series of twists turns and bends through the hills followed. Passing by countless durian stalls by the roadside (as well as the famous 'organic durian' stall) along the way, the foilage opened up here and then to reveal the sea beyond.

The town of Balik Pulau can be seen to the south
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U502: PHJ2051 (Rapid Penang JAC) Balik Pulau->Air Itam
Another lengthy waiting session at the new Balik Pulau terminal built for Rapid Penang. This time around the control office said that the next departure for U502 was at 3pm, but seems like it refers more to the arrival time instead. The bus eventually departed at 3.40pm, and the cause is due to route extension to Komtar. For a newly set-up company, fleet addition is a very foreign term!

Jln Tun Sardon, which offers a short cut through the hills to Paya Terubong and Air Itam to the east. 'High powered manual buses' are deployed to cope with the demands of U502, which uses this road. Apparently Transit Link PW withdrawn their service 2-7 due to the fact that their buses did not have the necessary power to climb the steep road! Unfortunately, this route did not prove as interesting after the excitement earlier on while onboard T501.
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Next Post: Penang's Star (Disappointments)

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