Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lai...Lai...Lai...Langchia, Anyone?

The last time I took a ride on a trishaw in Penang (here, we call them ‘langchia’) was like more than 5 years ago. Ya, now I remember, at that time, I was putting up at Cititel Hotel in Penang Road and just outside the hotel was a long row of gaily decorated langchias all parked neatly waiting for their fare. These langchias I was told, were waiting for bookings from tourists visiting the island and that the locals seldom ride on them anymore.

My no. 2 was with me and I walked up to one of the riders and enquired and I was pleasantly surprised. This neatly dressed man I presumed to be in his late forties spoke good English and introduced himself as Rocky. Was I impressed! I spoke to him in my Penang Hokkien and straight away he could tell that I am a Penang native. Rocky then told me he specializes in bringing his guests around the heritage trails in the inner city, to the mosques, temples, churches and clan houses, etc. and it’ll cost RM25. Since no. 2 has not been to this part of the town, I thought it a good idea for him to be acquainted with his momma’s childhood ‘playground’. Ya, I grew up in Penang and I am familiar with the nooks and cranies in the older parts of town. It has been a long, long time since I left Penang and it’s been a long, long time too that I last visited those old buildings and shops. The most enjoyable ride lasted about an hour or so and Rocky then sent us back to the hotel.

I enjoy langchia rides but the past few times when I was back in Penang, I had the car at my disposal, so I forgot about the langchia. Just two weeks back, I was in Penang again and as I was without a car, I rode on the buses to town and then ‘chartered’ the langchia to bring me around the town area and to my favourite feeding grounds. This time around, I got a very genial Pakcik who agreed to take my young grand-nephew and me from Penang Road to Swatow Lane. I wanted my ice-kacang fix and the young boy, his chicken-rice. As I am not too familiar with the bus routes near this place, I asked if Pakcik would wait for us and then take us to the temple and then Padang Brown after that. “Boleh...Boleh.”, he answered, giving us a toothy grin. I then asked if he would like to join us for lunch but he politely declined and said he’d wait for us under the shade of the big bodhi tree. We were done in 25 minutes and quickly walked out to find Pakcik, climbed onto the langchia and we were on our way.

The sun was scorching hot and we had the shade up to cover us and Pakcik had a big parasol too. **heave ho…heave ho** Pakcik pedalled hard…the scorching sun and the strong winds made it so much difficult for him but this did not stop him from chatting merrily with us and made us laugh with his funny quips. Just as we passed along Anson Road, a strong gust of wind blew and upturned his parasol. He slowed down the langchia and pulled over to the side of the road to straightened back the parasol. I think one of the frames must have twisted or something because Pakcik decided to just fold it up and continued the journey without his shade. So kesian, Pakcik riding in the hot sun with only his baseball cap for shade. We arrived at our destination shortly and this time, I again offered to buy him Indian mee goreng and drinks. Pakcik shyly declined but asked if he should wait and then send us home. Told him, we would take a bus back to Air Itam as it's too far for a langchia to go. I paid him his fare and more…some tips would be appropriate and sure made his day. Pakcik thanked us profusely and as he rode off, he gave a wave and a ‘cring-crinnng-crinnngggg’ on the ancient langchia bell.

Go, take a leisurely ride on a langchia. It's fun.
posted by nyonyapenang at 1:23 PM, |


  At 6:41 PM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, wa you sit in 'langchia'? Hmmm, nobody enquired anything? Ahemmm, something to do with, ha ha, never mind.
But it is fun I guess.
I have experienced sitting in rickshaws when very young.
You have a great day, Nyonya. UL.
  At 7:07 PM Blogger cc said:
Oh the trishaw ride. I remembered sitting on one with my grandma when I was very young. This post brings back so many memories for me.
Uncle Lee,
Good Morning.

That was fast of're my numero uno! enquired anything. hahhaa....Those were the days when young ladies would not be seen dead riding on a langchia. Now the langchias serve the tourists more. The locals prefer to take the 'taxi sapu'.
Do join me for a ride when you're back here next.

You have a great day too, Uncle Lee.
You have rode one too? It sure was fun ya? The past few times I rode on it, it brought back so much memories of my childhood in Penang.
  At 8:38 PM Anonymous mott said:
wah.....this brings back memories..

i rode one in penang too...when I was a wee lil lass.......kai kai with granma.. ;-)
I can't remember if I had hoped onto a lang chia before... hahaha!
  At 9:37 PM Blogger J.T. said:
May I ask? What is so *ahem*ahem* about riding on a 'langchia'? Am I assuming too much or have I arrived at the same conclusion of scenes from "Memoirs of a Geisha"? :)

I am yet to take a ride in one of those rickshaws. Though, I have had my fill of the Kelantan trishaws - my transportation to school in the 70s.

Sounds like pakcik had a ver good day too. So sweet of you!
you sure had lots of fun going kai-kai with your grandma on a langchia.
kalau ada opportunity, do take your kids on a langchia ride. :)

do give it a try. it's fun. :)

j.t., got it right.
those days, no taxi, so langchias were the most convenient mode of transport for the 'evening butterflies'.
i too, used 'langchia-sekolah' for school in the sixties and would you believe it, it can ferry 6 kids with schoolbags and all. :)

oh ya, that day, Pakcik was happy and we were happy too.
  At 12:55 AM Blogger J.T. said:
Wow.. 6 kids in a 'langchia-sekolah'.
The pakcik who took me to school in a trishaw would put a plank across, resting one end under the seat and the other end on the metal bar in front. That allowed him to fit 5 students in one trip. All of our school bags were piled up at the back of the trishaw. :)
  At 8:02 AM Blogger Pi Bani said:
The last time I took a ride on a trishaw I think was when I was still in primary school! Don't see any in Ipoh anymore. Imagine going to work in one... I'd be late every day I think... :)
  At 8:24 AM Blogger alison said:
in melaka we call "beca". oohh... used to love the ride kecik kecik dulu. a treat when cabut gigi, or when dad had bought groceries and need a ride to the bus station. i would sit right in front, holding the steel bar and with legs hanging, weeee! (oh, ours the pedellar is at the side)yes, sometimes so kesian the pakciks and ah peks.
  At 9:00 AM Blogger ah nel said:
got any young langchia riders coz i pity them to bring me*heavy guy* around the city... ;)
  At 9:54 AM Blogger JL said:
Pakcik langchia Gua mau pigi Bukit Bendera :P

so nice of you... Best passenger award goes Kak Nyonya Penang :)
  At 10:21 AM Blogger Kenny Ng said:
I think I never take a ride on langchias more than 20 years liao. Really miss it.
  At 10:33 AM Blogger Jonzz said:
Hmm... never been on one. Didn't see one on my last trip to Penang recently. Too used to the bus.
  At 10:53 AM Blogger William said:
My last langchia ride was 14 years ago. Took a night ride from Komtar back to the hotel I was staying. 1 adult, 4 kids I think. It was fun. If memory serves me right, it was $12. :D
  At 11:31 AM Blogger Winn said:
hehe.the last time i took langchia was in xiamen china when visiting my relatives. they insisted they walk to the restaurant and we and my siblings take langchia.

So the fatty us - me , my bro and my sis shared one langchia. and the poor OLD MAN had to paddle uphill..very very steep!!! until at one point he had to put on all his strength and 'stand-paddling'(stand and kayuh la..dunno got such word or not)? ..aiyo very paisay la..we really pity him la....
i never had a chance to do that.....
must be very best wan lor
  At 11:58 AM Anonymous suituapui said:
When I was in primary school, I had to walk a mile to school (b4 I learnt how to cycle)...and I had fun hitching a ride on a "beca" that had to pick a friend; imagine a trishaw full of little "monkeys"! The last time I rode in one was in Malacca a few years back! Pity the poor fella! I felt like getting off to cycle and asking him to sit!!!
i wanted to try that when i was staying at cititel penang

but hmm, none of my other project mate (all guys) wanted to try it

n i don't dare to try it
ya lar, the langchia ah chek(hokkien for Uncle) would put a sturdy plank across too, so making it like terraced seats lidat lar...1 level 3 kids, so 2 level 6 kids lor. Only problem would be when it rains and he had to pull the foldable roof and it would be then very, very cramped and those sitting on the upper deck would have sore necks.
and with apiece of tarpauline covering the front, became more thrilling sitting inside and not seeing where we were going.
soooo much fun lar. :D

pi bani,
no more beca in Ipoh?
come to think of it, i too, have never seen one in my many visits to Ipoh.
late for work if going by trishaw?
ya lar, now the housing estates are like miles and miles away from the workplace. just imagine i stay in PJ and my office is in Putrajaya!!!! :D

when i visited melaka years ago, i also paid for a ride around the A'Formosa area. i like it so much.
i kesian them i kasi sikit tip lor. :)

ah nel,
50kg shud be no ploblem kuar? :D
when you going to take the penang langchia?

to bukit bendaera ar? you gotta charter the langchia for the whole day and maybe they can take you on a round island trip too. and please tip generoussly. :)

on your next trip back, go and enjoy a ride round town. it's fun!

macam mana tak nampak langchia in penang? they are all over in town. promise yourself a ride on your next visit.

hmmm....lemme see...14 years were one of the 4 kids lar. :D
you see, it so much fun that it stays in your memory. go do a 'langchia ride re-visited' on your next visit.

aisehamn, ni orang penang and baru nia ada balik kampung kan? promise yourself a ride too when you next balik kampung so next time can share cerita wif your anak and cucu.

adoii....kesian lar, the Xiamen langchia ah chek...kena kayoh 3 adults up a steep hill summore. amazingly, the langchia never gostan and roll down ler. really, this wan must be the skill of the langchia ah chek. got kasi tip sikit ar?

pisang goreng,
MUST try when you visit penang. i assure you, the memories will last a lifetime. :)

suituapui, also have fun memories of your langchia rides. ya, the 'langchia''s amazing, how the pakcik/ah chek could fit 5 or more kids into his langchia and his time management skills deserved to be commended..we were never late for school.
re: your thought of pedalling the beca in melaka, ya, I have seen angmoh tourists pedalling the langchia in penang with the pakcik/ah chek sitting in front. they sure had loads of fun. :)
perhaps, you should try that too. :D

13th panda,
oh, you missed it?
no worries, it's very safe if you are talking about getting worried should they send you somewhere else. it's open-air and if the worse to happen, lompat nia lar.
in this context, i'd think taking taxi alone, gua pun takut ler.
  At 7:58 PM Blogger may said:
does it sound weird that I don't take rides on langchias because I always thought it's too touristy a thing to do? LOL! maybe I should go on one just for the heck of it!
  At 9:17 PM Blogger Chen said:
i won't dare to take langchia leh..
u know lah.. looking at the traffic and judging the motorists in Penang ;)
My friends & I rode in one many years ago. We go so excited that we took over the pedalling and made the owners sit at the passenger's seat while we raced each other on the street. Woooohooooo!!! That was fun!
  At 11:09 PM Blogger Will said:
i haven't taken a beca for quite a long time... same like May... i think it's kinda touristy thing and i also scare kena ripped off :P
but you would be a tourist in penang, no? hahhahaa
tourists do touristy things visiting famous landmarks and snap photos and go eat the famous 'longkang-side' laksa and snap summore photos. :P

dr chen, join me on a ride next time...jangan takut. :D

cocka doodle,
you raced on a langchia? hahahaha...
WOWWW.....that sure was fun.

can get kenny and ah nel to join you next time.

errrr...tourists are meant to be ripped, no? hahahaha...
joking nia lar.

enquire, agree on the fare then baru naik the langchia. i promise you, it's fun. :)
  At 11:59 PM Anonymous kat said:
I kept seeing 'lang chai, lang chai'!! :D I found it quite scary with so many cars wheezing past, but the langchia man was just cool onli.. taking his own sweet time pedaling!!

Thanks nyonya for stopping by. Really appreciate it! *hugs*
  At 12:11 AM Blogger ah nel said:
i whre got so light?



when r u goin to bring me go?
  At 2:35 AM Blogger FireHorse said:
I will make a note to take my boy on langchia when we go home this time.
  At 8:45 AM Blogger ah nel said:
btw i too old to race with cocka as he so younger than me... ;)

*i ledi granpa age*
  At 9:39 AM Blogger said:
I was on one of those when I was ... 6-year-old?
Err... I remember he doesn't sit on a bicycle. He just pulled it himself! (Shang-hai style)
ahhh... when I go to Penang in July, I'm going to take the langchia and blog about it. hehe...
Thanks for the recommendation.
hi kat,
you mean you tersilap baca as 'lengchai' ar? hahahaha...
no nid to worry banyak-banyak. the langchia pakcik/ah chek and the motorists in penang understand each other very well. so it's safe lar. :)

ah nel,
you always so sibuk wan; how to ajak you?
challenge cocka and kenny to race with you and perhaps the bloggers can place some bets. hahahaha...

the shanghao-styled ones are known as 'chiew chia' (hand-pulled). you sure you rode on that in penang because knowing how young you are, those 'chiew-chia' were already taken off the road when you were 6 years old. :)

hi eastcoastlife,
a very warm welcome!
ya, do promise yourself a ride when you visit penang this coming july. i assure you, it will be fun.
and of course, how not to blog about it.
thanks for dropping by.
have a nice weekend. :)
Dont dare take one now. cars going so fast and reckless!
  At 5:30 PM Anonymous zeroimpact said:
Yes I remember there's lots of trishaw at cititel but everytime I am there I will not get the chance to relax as it's a business trip, only get back to hotel very late
I miss riding in a trishaw too
  At 6:50 PM Blogger ah nel said:
if u ajak lain cerita mar!

khaimah worr so must gv face... :P

im a bad person so i dont bet wan... ;)
las montanas,
try the ride where the langchia takes you on the Heritage Trail.
anyway, the langchias and the motorists in penang seem to have a mutual understanding of each others rights on the roads. so no worries, go and enjoy a ride. :)

make sure to squeeze in some time for yourself to enjoy a ride on the quaint langchia. :)

ah nel,
dun tok-tok nia. next time i may just pull you along. ^o^
  At 12:18 AM Blogger savante said:
Last time I took one was years back - probably three... and I almost had a heart attack when they stopped in the middle of a bustling crossroad. malu ler...haven't been on one before lor...only go to penang to wallop kuey teow! kakkakaa..
  At 8:23 AM Blogger ah nel said:
*waiting to being pulled*

  At 1:32 PM Blogger said:
Nyonya, I didn't take that in Penang.
It still can be found in Ipoh, even after it disappear from Penang.
no worries punya...the pakcik/ah chek do manoeuvre the langchias very well. just sit back and relax.

can ride the langchia to look for the best char kwei teow in penang. :)

ah nel,
okie...noted dalam buku 555 liao. :D

oh, i see.
thanks for the info.
  At 12:26 AM Blogger _butt said:
I hope I still got chance to ride it.. :D

happy weekend!
  At 8:31 AM Blogger ah nel said:
long time we no meet then u bekam ah long ledi kar?

*555 book*
  At 12:05 AM Blogger Angeleyes said:
Nyonya!!! You are in Penang again??? Aiyah... missed you again!
it was short 2-day trip.
we are like playing "ah chwee chok" lidat huh? hahahah...
  At 5:10 AM Blogger David J said:
Great story,
I'd like to link to it on my rickshaw blog. These experiences are worth sharing and PROMOTING.
Long live the Langchai
Reading your post, I recalled my first ride was when I was about 8/9 years old with my grandma..and it was a priviledge as I was the only one she ever took ( I hv a elder sister and younger bro) for a ride. If only she's still alive, I will want to take her with me for a ride, onli this time my treat.
Hi David J,

Thank you so much for your kind words and also putting my link in your esteemed blog. I appreciate it very much.

Have a nice day and do pop by again. :)

ahhh...this post brings back beautiful memories of you and grandma.
thinking back, childhood memories are made up of experiences such as these, and it stay with us.