Unnerving traffic jams on Friday nights, a beach that looks like a still from the apocalypse, an endless flow of hawker food, thirsty tourists and overdressed teenagers sipping Starbucks – Gurney Drive is a place where charm mixes with grime. This long seaside promenade is where the pulse of Penang with all its vices and virtues is at its strongest.
One can feel the heart of the city beating with a stop-motion movement as the high rise luxury condominiums grow into a dense forest. As I gazed at the seafront where the beach used to be, I had the sense that the city’s liver is failing; there is also the probability of a stroke as the main artery is constantly clogged with cars. Whether one regards Gurney Drive as ugly or charming, it is a good place to diagnose the island’s “health”.
After a short stroll along the seafront (at low tide the beach is full of mud and rubbish) one keeps wondering why so many people come here for a late evening walk.
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