Thursday, March 11, 2010

Swatow Lane( 汕頭巷)

Swatow Lane or Lorong Swatow(汕頭巷)is the road between Burma Road and Hutton Lane. The middle of Swatow Lane joined with Jalan Bawasah just opposite the entrance of the New World Part at Swatow Lane. It is parallel to Nagore Road. The Chinese called it sua-thau-hang(汕頭巷), but local Hockkien community commonly called the street "sin-sei-kai(新世界)" , which popularly refer to the amusement park and the street, and sua-thau-hang is rarely used. The Chinese street name is normally used in writing or orally used in Mandarin.

The road is named after a Chinese city, Shantou(汕頭)or Swatow, a port city at Guangdong Province, China. Swatow is one of the Teochew cities in Guangdong province, it is the port city where many of 19th century Chinese coolies from Chaozhou, Tapu, Meixian, etc,mainly Hakka and Teochew people, start their journey to Nanyang. Swatow was the port of departure.

Be careful with the name Swatow Lane or sua-thau-hang(汕頭巷), they have the same sound as sua-thau-kei(汕頭街)which is Kimberley Street. Especially if Mandarin is used. The Swatow(汕頭)or sua-thau sound the same and have the same meaning in Chinese, which is the name of Shantou city. The different is the last name, one is called lane or hang(巷), the other is street or kei(街). Both street were named after Swatow or Shantou city(汕頭), and sound the same. Swatow Lane is sua-thau-hang, but Kimberly Street is sua-thau-kei. So please do not confuse and go to the wrong place if you use Chinese name....otherwise use English name.


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The old New World Park
In the old days the road was the entertain hub for Penang people. One of Penang's two amusement parks(娱乐场) was located here. The name of the park is New World Park. The Chinese called it sin-sei-kai(新世界),literally means new world. The other amusement park was located at Jalan Ria, the Great World Park, the Chinese called it tua-sei-kai(大世界,大觀園), which means big world,or great world. Great World Park has demolished for the KOMTAR project, it was at the location of today's Prangin Mall(新光大). The two amusement parks were owned by Shaw's Brothers, which also owned few cinema in Penang e.g Rex, Capital, Oriental etc, all had closed down. There was another Wembly Park or in Chinese sin-choon-mun-yuen(新春滿園), but before the WW2 it was called choon-mun- yuan or choon-man-hui(春滿園),located at Magazine Road, just in front of Trader Hotel, recently demolished.

New World Park only opened at night, you need to buy entrance ticket to enter the amusement park, and after the entry another paying for the other activities. Unlike Great World Park, where a cinema ticket can used for entry ticket, but not in New World Park. There were 3 stage(舞臺) for shows, Penang stage(largest), Singapore stage and Ipoh stage (smallest stage). In old days, New World Park is famous for the tai-he(大戲), which in Cantonese literally means big show, the stage show of Cantonese drama, normally from Hong Kong. Ko Tai(歌臺), the stage for singers, who will sing from the stage. The other popular stage show were boxing matches, Rose Chan strip show,and occasionally cultural show from Hong Kong or China. For a small fee, patrons can go up stage to dance Malay jogyet with the dancers. It is also the premise for basketball competition, when Penang still do not have indoor stadium. There were 2 cinemas, Global Theater(環球戲院) & Lido Theater(麗都戲院). Global Theater is open air cinema, mainly showing English movie, you can watch the movie free by standing outside the cinema. Lido Theater is closed door cinema, which was Malay and English movie, especially P Ramli movie, it was a fee paying cinema. At that time P Ramli movie was a black and white movie.

At the end of the year there will be business or trade exhibition, like the Pesta site in Sg Nibong today. But it was not organized by state government, it was organized by Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

It also have merry-go-down, fun fair....for children. This was a place to spent the night for the old Penang. The peak period was between 1930s to 1940s, in the late 50s & early 60s, basketball matches and trade exhibitions still held there. New World Park was abandoned for some time.

Swatow Lane was also the food heaven for old Penang. The ice kacang(ABC), the rojak, and other street foods. Despite the close down of New World Park, the food stalls continued their business at the corner coffee shop, Kafe Sin Se Kai(新世界茶室)between Jalan Bawasah and Swatow Lane, and the stalls along the old wall of the New World Park. They make a name for Penang tourism as a place for the street food. The place continue to attract the customers, especially tourists. Swatow Lane become a food hub.

Today, the modern New World Park
The New World Park was revived and redeveloped by PPB Hartabina Sdn Bhd. The subsidiary company of public listed company owned by Malaysian tycoon Robert Kwok(糖王郭鹤年). The company bought the land in the 70s(1973). The ultimate aim was to move all the food stalls to the new site.

The New World Park food centre(新世界小贩中心), located at 102,Burma Road was launched in January 2008. It comprises two section. The portion nearest to Jalan Burma is occupied by bistros, cafes and upmarket eateries, while the portion nearer to Hutton Lane is afood court where street fare is sold in the comfort of a clean environment. This food court is a descendant of the food stalls along Swatow Lane, which moved into New World Park when it was completed.

But there are some stalls still operated at the corner coffee shops just opposite the New World Park entrance at Swatow Lane.

Swatow Lane still remain as food and entertainment hub of Penang in a modern way, a revive of the New World Park, but when will the Great World Park and Wembly park revive?...

I wonder what is this place, prior to the building of old New World Park before 1930s? a Teochew village or Jawi Peranakan settlement ? ......

Related websites and articles

1.New World Park, http://www.newworldpark.com.my/

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