Monday, 7 January 2013

Batu Ferringhi, Penang

Batu Ferringhi is a beach area on Penang island. As a kid, I knew the place as Batu Ferringhi and as a family picnic area. Batu Ferringhi was a lush green area and with beautiful fine soft white sand.
There weren't many hotels back then in 1965. I remember having brunch with my grandparents at Palm Beach Resort on a Sunday in 1976. I also remember the Palm Beach Resort when USM held its in-house induction course/training for new lecturers in 1982. The other hotels are considered "new" hotels. Rasa Sayang Hotel was a grand hotel when it opened in 1982. USM also held its annual dinner at Rasa Sayang Hotel in Penang.

Happenings in Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is now a tourist spot and also a congested area. Some parts are more developed and some are abandoned. However, I discovered a beautiful garden restaurant. Affandi said it is surely a nice restaurant with a beautiful garden concept. We both liked this garden restaurant in Batu Ferringhi.

A beautiful garden restaurant
P Ramlee on a bus panel in Batu Ferringhi. This elderly man's wife was still on the bus while he had gotten off the bus. He was frantically trying to stop the bus driver. The bus eventually stopped a few yards away and let down his wife. Imagine being separated from your wife in this way!
Affandi buying rojak buah from a hawker in Batu Ferringhi. The laksa man wasn't around.

What is the history of Batu Ferringi?

I'm not sure what the actual history is and how Batu Ferringhi got its name. Orang Ferringhi was a historical term used to refer to the Portuguese. But I have not heard the Portuguese landed in Penang. They were probably Portuguese descent from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), maybe from the Portuguese East India Company, Dutch East India Company and British East India Company. Batu Ferringhi sounds Arabic and in Arabic there is the letter f and no letter p. Otherwise this place could have been named Batu Paringgi or after Orang Paringgi if it was named by the Malays.

As with most "Batu" names of places in Malaya and including Penang, this indicates an early arrival in Penang by sea route, ie by ships. Batu Ferringhi is either a small bay or cove, and with a lot of granite boulders (batu) in the sea, and an unlikely place for landing of then an inhospitable island.

Batu Ferringhi beach, Penang 2011

However, it should be noted that Masjid Kg Batu Uban (1700s) predates Francis Light's landing on Penang island (1800s). I would therefore say Batu Ferringhi is more recent than Kg Batu Uban. If the Portuguese are implied as "pioneers" to this island, and the Portuguese came to Malacca in 1511, then Batu Ferringhi would probably be in that time frame. However, because only the Malays would name a place with a Batu name, it is possible that there were Arab-speaking Malay villages on Penang island by 1511, when the Portuguese first arrived before they sailed into the Strait of Malacca, and onward to Malacca and to the Chinese islands off mainland China. This is just a thought and a possibility.


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