Bukit Tambun

Just a short distance from Penang Second Bridge (Jambatan Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah), Bukit Tambun still retains its serene countryside charm. A short distance from the highway exit, a large wall mural greets every visitor who intends to unravel Bukit Tambun's pristine scenery.
There are several colonial era buildings along the main street of the Bukit Tambun. One of the dilapidated houses was the former residence of the late Khaw Boo Aun (许武安), a prominent Chinese Kapitan and business magnate in the 19th century.
Several of these buildings have been uninhabited for quite some time. However rather surprisingly, these houses are still in pretty good condition.
The town center is where most economic activities are concentrated. There are several traditional coffee shops and sundry stores. These shops mostly cater local needs.
Another mural on the side of the building takes advantage of a broken section of a wall.
To promote tourism, selected rows of shophouses have been repainted with vibrant colors. The "rainbow houses" (七彩屋) serve good opportunities for photography.
Several of these shops go an extra mile with more intricate drawings. In fact, there was a contest to determine the best-decorated house.
Further past the town center, there are also dwellings along the river. Located close to the sea, this area is subjected to rising tides. Therefore, most houses here are raised on stilts.
The muddy mangrove swamp serves as nesting grown for crabs. These crabs usually borrow underground during low tide, but may surface occasionally to forage for food and mate.
Before the advent of television and video games, crab catching is a favorite pastime of village children. The tool is rather simple: a fishing rod with rubber band at the end of the string.
Crabs are attracted to wriggling motion of the rubber band. With some skill and sheer determination, it is possible to catch a crab with the rubber band.
Located by the sea, many locals make a living through fishing. They usually depart before sunrise to maximize their catch. Most of their boats are still wooden in nature. They are powered by diesel motors, though.
There are tens of fishing boats docked along both sides of the river. Notice the colorful appearance of the boats?
There is also a Chinese temple near the river mouth. I wonder whether this temple is accessible on foot?
A 10-minute boat ride brings us from Bukit Tambun to the open sea of Penang Strait.
Along the way are portions of Batu Kawan, a neighboring town famous for seafood restaurants. Some of the hills here have been shaped by sand mining activities.
One of our destinations today is a fish farm just off the eastern coast of Pulau Aman. Like those near Pulau Jerejak, the farm is partitioned into rectangular sections to accommodate fish of different species and size.
Wooden planks provide access throughout the farm. Notice that the farm is kept floating using empty barrels. Fear not, the farm is tethered to the seabed. Therefore it is in no danger of drifting away.
Some of the fish raised here are red lion (红鱼) and brown-marbled grouper (龙虎斑). The fish are fed at specific time to optimize their growth.
Fish are harvested based on market demand. To extend freshness, fish are drugged so that they remains unconscious until ready to be delivered to the customer.
Some fish can reach over 10 kilograms if allowed to grow to full length. Just imagine how much food they have been consuming!
A full-grown fish can fetch hundreds of ringgit on the market. Therefore, it is important to protect the farm from thefts. And what better sentry to use other than man's best friend?
Finally before departing the fish farm, we are also greeted by the sight of a floating jellyfish. Jellyfish can sting, so it is best not to handle it with bare hands.