Kelawei Road or Jalan Kelawei is a major road out of George Town. Until as late as the 1930's, Kelawei Road was still the main road that extended beyond Northam Road (now Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). At that time, nothing stood between Kelawei Road and the shoreline. Cantonment Road ended at Kelawei Road, which was already near the shore. It was during the late 1930's that Gurney Drive was built, originally being called the New Coast Road, then then renamed Gurney Drive only in 1952. The land reclamation allowed Cantonment Road to be extended, creating what is now called Jalan Pemenang.
Kelawei Road is an example of the result of having no standard way to spell local names. There is no consensus over how the name should be spelled, with the two main variations being Kelawei and Kelawai. I had originally written that the name Kelawei is actually the British transliteration of "Kuala Awal", the local name for the first northern estuary from George Town. However Syed Imran Syed Ahmad, a reader of The Star, clarified that it was instead named after a tree (see details under updates below). This name comes from the original Malay settlement located along Kelawei Road, a remnant of which, known as Kampung Syed, is near Masjid Jamek Al-Munauwar Kelawei, between Edgecumbe Road and Jones Road.
At the start of Kelawei Road was the extravagant home of Chung Thye Phin, the last Kapitan China of Perak. The mansion, long demolished, stood on the grounds of where the twin condominiums called 1 Persiaran Gurney are located today. Farther west along Kelawei Road takes us to the Burmese and Thai settlements, leaving behind their temples such as the Dhammikarama Temple, Wat Chaiyamangkalaram and Wat Buppharam.
Kelawei Road (22 December 2009)
Beyond lay the Eurasian village or Kampung Serani, at and around what is known today as College Square. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is a reminder of the Eurasian legacy on Kelawei Road. Along the road is the Catholic Cemetery that belongs to the church.
Today Kelawei Road is prime real estate and location for numerous skyscrapers and upmarket condominiums that take advantage of its proximity to the city centre as well as the glorious views the location affords.
Updates on Kelawei Road
8 January, 2014: According to Syed Imran Syed Ahmad, writing to the Star, there was no river in Kelawei, and that instead the name Kelawai refers to the roots or akar of the dedawai tree, Myxopyrum nervosum, which is also known as kelawai. From there, the area became known as Tanjong Kelawei, it being one of the five places on the North-East and South-East districts of Penang Island that bear the word "tanjong" to its name. According to Syed Imran Syed Ahmad, the name Tanjong Kelawai, which referred to a Malay fishing village, eventually evolved to simply Kelawai.
27 July, 2013: Traffic flow on Kelawei Road is made one way, with traffic going from east to west.
The Penang Travel Tips website is a huge website that documents everything in Penang. On top of the hundreds of streets and tourist attractions, I also add in hundreds of shops and businesses.
If you operate a shop business in Penang, or anywhere in Malaysia or Singapore, contact me to add your business/shop into my website. It only a one-time fee, and your shop/business will be listed by location and category, helping your would-be customers find you. To find out more, CONTACT ME
If you're travelling somewhere, use our online engine to find the online booking site that offers you the best room rates.
Book your hotel room here
If you're coming to Penang, book your hotel room online with Agoda. Agoda offers the best prices on 2,000,000+ properties worldwide. Start here.
Local Guided Tours of Penang
If you are coming to Penang and need someone to show you around, I can arrange for you a licensed tour guide to take you around. Guides charge a fixed fee of RM320 for taking a small group of up to 10 people on 4-hour walking tours. Walking tours exceeding 4 hours is charged an additional RM120 per hour. Tours are tailored to guest requirement. For more details, contact tour coordinator.
Looking for a book? Get it from Book Depository with free delivery worldwide!
I have just discovered Book Depository, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, and I love it. This is where you can buy books and have them sent to you. But unlike Amazon, when you purchase using Book Depository, you enjoy free delivery worldwide. Give it a try today!
What's the best way to see Penang on a budget? Take the bus! In Penang, there are at least 12 absolutely FREE bus routes which cover almost every major neighbourhood on Penang Island and Penang Mainland. All you need to do is hop aboard!
Thank you for visiting my website. I started it in 2003, and today it has over twenty thousand pages of information. My name is Timothy Tye. I would be very pleased if you enjoy the information I have put together.
As a Christian, I hope that through this website, I am able to deliver God's message to all who need it, anywhere in the world. If you are open to hearing it, please read God's Good News to You.