Air Itam Village is the nucleus of the greater Air Itam area which includes numerous neighbourhoods on the central part of Penang Island. It occupies only a small area around the Ayer Itam Market.
Air Itam Village developed since the 19th century as the village square, or pekan, for the largely rural settlement. Settlers who were mostly farmers took to cultivate crops in the surrounding hills around the village.
Air Itam Village became the heart of the vegetable producing region for the city. The hills above Air Itam Village still has a number of vegetable plots, though the amount of vegetables produced here is declining in the face of urban encroachment. The produce is carried down to the market in the village below, or taken by bus to other markets in the city.
The heart of Air Itam Village is a triangular square (a triangular square - what am I saying!) bordered by Jalan Air Itam on east side, Jalan Pasar on the south side and Jalan Balik Pulau onh the northwest side. This is the northern end of Jalan Balik Pulau as it winds its way south, where it fades into a jungle trek before reemerging as a proper road as it approaches the town of Balik Pulau.
Air Itam Village is the base for visiting Kek Lok Si, the biggest Chinese temple in Southeast Asia. The temple complex sprawls over the hills above the village. Further uphill is the Ayer Itam Reservoir. Air Itam Village is famous for laksa - the Penang variety, of course. There are several stalls selling laksa in Air Itam Village, but the most famous is the one located beside the Air Itam Market.
The morning market at Air Itam Village (25 January, 2012)
The ever-congested Air Itam Village (23 January, 2005)
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