A Portrait of Change: Bayan Lepas

Once known as the rice bowl of Penang, not many would have envisioned Bayan Lepas as the vibrant urbanscape that it is today. Sweeping paddy fields dotted by buffaloes and bunkers from the war used to line the town’s main road. The irrigation network’s countless canals offered fun for the young, when fish fighting and frog catching were common pastimes. It was often referred to as “the other side of the island”, rural and remote.

The 1970’s saw it turning into a high-tech industrial hub. It eventually blossomed to become the “Silicon Valley of the East”. Today, it continues to thrive in big data analytics, e-commerce, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

This visual account of everyday life in and around Bayan Lepas at present is as much a dip into the past as it is a glimpse of the future.

Born and bred in Penang, Jonathan Lim’s work revolves around stories of people and places. His latest documentary project sees him working with a group of engineers as they bring electricity to an off-grid Bidayuh village in Ulu Padawan, Sarawak. Glimpses of his work can be found at trstls.co.

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Every year, thousands of people flock to the Pesta site, drawn there by the bright lights, good bargains and thrilling shows at the Pesta Pulau Pinang.