Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Walking across the bridge - Jalan Burma, Penang

Guest Blogger: L

Some shots with L's Canon G10 as she walked across Jalan Burma, in Penang.

More shots at noon-time on a week day.
Burmah Road is one of the major roads in George Town. This long road begins at the junction with Penang Road, and runs in a northwesterly direction out of town, ending at the junction with Gottlieb Road, Bagan Jermal Road and Mount Erskine Road. The traffic dispersal system of George Town requires that Burmah Road has three sets of traffic flow: from Penang Road to Pangkor Road junction, it flows east to west; from Perak Road junction to Pangkor Road junction, it flow the opposite direction; and from Perak Road to the end of Burmah Road, it flows two ways.
Burmah Road was named after the Burmese settlement that existed in Pulau Tikus district, of which stands the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple as the lasting reminder of their presence. That, and the existence of other Burmese-inspired road names in the vicinity, including Salween Road, Moulmein Close, Rangoon Road, Mandalay Road and Irrawaddi Road, to name some.
Among the locals, Burmah Road was called Jalan Kreta Ayer in Malay, or Chia Chooi Lor in Hokkien. Both means the same thing - "Water Cart Road". The name refers to an essential earlier-century activity that may appear totally alien to a 21st century piped-water world. Before piped water became an expected part of life, fresh water had to be carried - on ox-carts, and often, on shoulders - from waterfalls and springs, to awaiting buyers in town. Burmah Road was the route taken by these water bearers, and that route became known by that essential task.
Like many of the major roads in Penang, Burmah Road began as a rural road. It is spelled with a "h", one of the quarky idiosyncracies of British transliteration of foreign names. The city end of Burmah Road begin at a point where, up till the turn of the 20th century, there was a plank bridge across the Prangin Canal. The canal is still around, albeit buried under the ground, emerging only at Sia Boey. It used to continue all the way to Transfer Road, where it connects to another ditch that leads out into North Beach, where Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah is located today, effectively creating an island out of George Town. The plank bridge is remembered in the name of Masjid Titi Papan located in the vicinity.

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