Now if you're an avid motorist and love different sorts of motoring experiences then taking your car on a ferry ride is something you should do. On a recent trip to Penang I did just that. This is a motoring experience that allows you to drive on a large boat, step out of the car, take in that salty sea breeze with a slight tinge of diesel from the ferry's engine. You can do this as soon as the ferry is on the move and you get to admire the scenery around you from a slightly different perspective and then you drive off when you reach the other side.
The Penang Ferry Service is the oldest operating ferry service in Malaysia. The ferry services first began operation in 1920, under the management of a Chinese company. The chap who owned the company must have been one of those who could afford those beautifully designed bungalows on Gurney Drive. But today it is jointly operated by the Penang Port Commission (PPC) and Penang Port Sdn Bhd. The ferry service connects Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth to Raja Tun Uda ferry terminal at Weld Quay in George Town on Penang Island.
Now taking the also scenic Penang Bridge would actually save you 0.70sen as the toll charges for the bridge comes up to RM7.00 only. You pay the toll on the mainland side of Seberang Prai and you do not have to pay if you leave the island. This is the same with ferry service. It is only when you head towards Georgetown when you have to fork out RM7.70. Or course, what is 0.70sen when you get to experience something slightly different? On the ferry you get to take a short breather and just observe the people who took the ferry with you as well as exploring the ferry itself, looking at the structure of the ferry with its steel framework, bolts and bars that make up its construction. You get to look closely at another type of engineering other than looking at cars and other forms of motoring. You also get to see the waves breaking as the ferry travels on the water and admiring the surrounding.
Taking the Penang bridge would be like taking the second link between Malaysia and Singapore, albeit slightly longer and with a suspension bridge elevated section in the middle of the Penang bridge. To say that it is faster than the ferry is subjective as it depends on the time of day and where you wish to go. The bridge enters the island at Gelugor whereas the ferry takes you right into Georgetown and the ferry services are pretty efficient as it takes on average slightly less than half an hour between the two points per trip during peak traffic times. The ferries at those times just embark and disembark passengers and cars doing many round trips per day with clockwork precision. At peak hours where the bridge is pretty choked with traffic it may take a good half an hour to reach Georgetown proper.
The experience was good one as it has been years since I took the ferry in Penang and it only took slightly more than thirty minutes of waiting, driving on the ferry, the ferry trip itself and then driving off at Butterworth. This, on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It is of my opinion that the ferry ride in Penang is one motoring experience that any motoring enthusiast living in this region should experience for themselves. If you intend on driving to Penang and if you have not taken the ferry before you should do so. A Ferry ride is a motoring experience that a motorhead should experience.