Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Langcha of Kampong Nyak Puteh - A friend's story

Last year when I started this blog I did have the intention of collecting people's personal stories about rickshaws and how they have used them in their lives. I have had some very interesting conversations with people over the past few years about their rickshaw experiences but it is very difficult for me to take other people's stories and publish them online and I know I have balked at the opportunity to do this. So I've decided to have a go at it anyway and hope that something of interest comes out of it.

At my previous job I had a colleague, Faridah, who grew up in a small village called Kampong Nyak Puteh on Penang Island on the West coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Penang is a vibrant multicultural place that has a long history of immigration from many corners of the globe. It is now a popular tourist destination and has also become quite industrialized which has lead to massive changes in the lifestyle of the local people.

"The Rickshaw is called bacha in bahasa but in Penang we called it Langcha I think its Chinese origin"

Rickshaw Kampung Malaya
Little girl in Langcha Kampong Nyak Puteh 1980.

Rickshaw ride
Langcha by the sea Penang 1980's

Rickshaw Penang 1990's
Yasmin and friend ride the Langcha in Penang 1990's

Nyak Puteh is no longer there it was re-claimed by the Government at the end of a 99yrs lease. All the land previously occupied by Faridah's Family was lost.The village which was once a simple and pleasant place to live, is now gone.
There was a stream that flowed with clean water; people were accustomed to sharing the fruit from several neighborhood fruit trees and Rickshaws were a common and much valued form of public transport. Unfortunately the village was replaced by blocks of flats designed for high density living. Faridah tells me:

"Now there is no more fruit trees or beautiful river eveyone has a small courtyard for themselves and that is all"

Faridah says that the Langcha riders were once well respected in her village but with industrialization and modernization they do not have such a significant role in the daily lives of those who live there now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Neglected blog but not forgotten

Hi to those readers who have actually been visiting this rickshaw blogspace...
I must apologize for neglecting this space for so long!
I was surprised to discover that the blog continued to receive visits for such a long time after my last post. I hadn't set it up to notify me if messages were left and so now I find myself reading interesting remarks long after they were left. So tardy I hadn't even looked at the blog for several months!

Anyway. The interest this blog has attracted has prompted me to attempt to continue with the project and catch up on some rickshaw stories and thoughts I've been having in the year or more since my last post.

I have had several conversations with people from all walks of life about the potential of pedicab, rickshaw, becak or whatever the human powered vehicle is called in your area.
There have been some interesting developments in the design of solar powered and electric assist rickshaws and regulations related to pedicabs appear to be becoming stricter. Meanwhile the issues of traffic congestion, global warming and fuel prices have public opinion about the validity of human powered transport swinging to extremes with all the force of a giant pendulum.

Let's see if we can get this thing up and moving once again. Comments are very welcome and discussion is encouraged.