THERE are many ways to see Penang, and one of the more interesting manners would be on a trishaw. Also known locally as the beca or rickshaw, it is a quaint mode of transport that ferries passengers through the streets of Penang at a leisurely pace. In Malaysia, pedestrian-pulled rickshaws were gradually replaced by cycle rickshaws (beca in Malay). Cycle rickshaws were ubiquitous up to the 1970s in cities. Since then, rapid urbanization has increased demand for more efficient public transport, resulting in dwindling cycle rickshaw numbers. Today, cycle rickshaws are operated mostly as a tourist attraction, with small numbers operating in Malacca, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu. I may or may not have been on one before as a kid being brought to many places around Asia on holidays but as an adult, this is my first.

The peddlers immaculately decorate their trishaws with individual flair in order to attract passengers.

Reputedly born in Japan as the “man-powered vehicle” or jinrikisha, the rickshaw later metamorphosed into the cycle-rickshaw and in parts of Asia is still the true developing-world taxicab (see Chasing Rickshaws below). Trishaws in Penang are currently mostly operated as a tourist attraction. Rapid urbanisation has increased the demand for more efficient public transport, resulting in dwindling trishaw numbers in the state. — iGT Penang

One of my favourite photos from this set is this portrait of a Penang beca rider.
Zatty is once again seen taking a photo of me taking a photo of her. Since then, I often wonder what she has or hasn’t done with all images that never got published in her Brunei Times story. Here, the rider cautions Zatty to secure her camera during the ride.
Asni (Media Permata) and Georgina of Tourism Malaysia sharing a pedicab while Michelle (far right) has a cab to herself where she’s seen here either texting or updating her Facebook Status.
I swear the next time I bump into Michelle, I’m going to take her iPhone away 🙂
A photo moment of Michelle not using her phone but pretty sure she got right back on it after this click!
Rapid urbanisation has increased the demand for more efficient public transport, resulting in dwindling trishaw numbers in the state. When I boarded my ride, my rider had the hood drawn thinking I’d prefer a shade but I had other ideas. Not only did I get to carry on a conversation with him in Mandarin, I was also able to take these shots behind me.


When my friends at Tourism Malaysia Brunei office sent me their 2011 calendar, among the photographs that I liked is one of a holiday couple on a trishaw in Penang. I remember saying to myself that someday I would visit Penang and take pictures of the trishaws. There I was, having ridden the trishaw, months later when my wish unbelievably came true much thanks to Tourism Malaysia Brunei.

No sooner had we returned to where we had taken off earlier, across the road were these two friendly ladies’ turn to explore the Penang heritage trails on this beautiful sunny morning.



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