Like Orchard Road in Singapore or the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Gurney Drive is the place that anyone coming to Penang must visit. But over time, much has changed. The Drive is now rather unsheltered, and the place is appreciated, not for the beach, but despite it.
Gurney Drive came into being in 1934. The surrounding real estate was a choice area for the affluent to live; the sea water was clean and the sandy beach, inviting. The few hawker stalls, especially those selling fried koay teow, cockle-shells and cuttlefish with kangkong, were also attractions, not only to the islanders, but also to people from Province Wellesley (now Seberang Perai), Kedah and Perak.
To be sure, Gurney Drive was not the original name for the road. It used to be called New Coast Road.
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