The Cape of Flowers

Originally a sleepy fishing village located 12km west of George Town, Tanjung Bungah is now a coastal suburb along the northern coast of Penang Island. The cape sits between Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Tokong. Literally meaning “Cape of Flowers”, the name refers to several promontories that jut out into the sea between Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong.

In the 1950s it became the beachside destination of choice due to its idyllic location and the once pristine sand and water. Its rise in popularity came with several hotels and resorts lining the beaches.

Favoured by expatriates and the well-heeled, Tanjung Bungah continues to bear witness to the mushrooming of residential high-rises sprouting along the coast and its hillsides. The suburb has been home to a significant expatriate population; a number of Royal Australian Air Force servicemen used to reside in Hillside when stationed in Penang during the Malayan Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, Tanjung Bungah teems with a diverse array of culinary options and international schools, large numbers of working adults and silver-haired retirees from Europe and East Asia.

Being a resident of Tanjung Bungah for over 30 years, it’s clear the physical transformation of this once quiet and breezy area known for its blue waters and verdant hills is striking. This photo essay attempts to capture both Tanjung Bungah’s surviving icons and its path towards urbanisation.

Dan Lee graduated with an M.A. in International Relations from Kyoto, Japan. His passions include exploring new places and photojournalism. In his spare time he tends to his garden.

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