The town people from Georgetown called it Pulo(浮罗)in their popular Hokkian dialect, which in Malay language it literally means island but to Penang Chinese it is the name of the Balik Pulau town. The local Hakka called it Pu-lo-san-puai, which mean the back of the hill at the place called Pulo(the island). Hokkian will called hill location sua-tau or sua-bui. The Hakka called san-puai. Pulo-san-pei(浮罗山背), the Chinese(Mandarin) name was the name given by Hakka. The word for hill in Malay is Bukit, not Pulau; it may said Belakang Bukit or Sebalik Bukit for place behind the hill. The Malay word Balik Pulau, is literally means going back to the island or at the back of island. Balik Pulau may be the contaminated Malay or Pasar Malay word by the Hakka, when translating the wording pulo-san-puai. Pulo is the island in Malay, but it was the name of the place(not island) for the Hakka, pulo-san means pulo hill. pilo-san-puai means the back of the hill called pulo-hill. They may not able to say behind the hill in Malay, so they say it balik pulo(balik is behind, pulo is the place). This may indicate that the name Balik Pulau was derived from Hakka's pasar Malay.
In 1786, the Captain Francis Light purchased the Penang Island from the Kedah sultan, with the promise to provide the sultan military protection from the attack of Siam. There were some Malay fishermen and Chinese in Penang. The Chinese are Hakka Chinese.
According to historical records, the early 70 Malay settlers on Penang island were refugees from Kedah who were fleeing from Siamese invaders. They made their homes in Bukit Dumbar and Bayan Lepas. Later, in 1786 when the Chakri Dynasty came to power in then Siam and expanded their kingdom, there was more migration of Malays and Thai Muslims from Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Perlis and Kedah to Balik Pulau. There may be some Chinese who followed the Malay and escaped to the island. Some said Balik Pulau is the name given at the time to mean escaped back to the island( Kebalik Pulo Pinang)....
In 1794, the British East India Company opened the area for planting of spices including nutmeg and cloves. The Chinese opened the rubber and coconut small holding. In the late 1800, Balik Pulau has become a agricultural center for Penang.
The majority of the Chinese in Balik Pulau are Hakka, they are reported to be the followers of Taiping Rebellion(1851-1868), which had strong support of Hakka from the Kwangdong and Kwanxi province in China. After the collapse of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in 1868, about 100 followers escaped to Nanyang by boat, only 20 survived and landed in Sungei Pinang of Balik Pulau. The Catholic Church was completed in 1854, prior to that it was having their servie in an atap house as early as 1845 , when the first parish priest, Reverent Fr. Ducotey held the inaugural Eucharist there. By 1897, there were 250-300 Catholic converts. Most of the Catholic followers are Hakka.
It is reported from the district office website, that district office only established in 1880 by British East India Company. Prior to that Balik Pulau is only a one street town called Pekan Kongsi in administration.
The landmark roundabout with a tall white column and lion figure heads in the town centre (known as Pekan Kongsi to locals) has an interesting history. A rich Hakka merchant, Koh Seang Tat(辜上達, 1833-1910), who is the great grandson of Kapitan Koh Lay Huan(辜禮歡, died in 1826) built the roundabout in 1882. It was originally used as a water trough for horses and cows. The time was 2 years after the district office opened. The fountain is no longer functional now. This important landmark is the heritage for the town of Balik Pulau.
Both Malay and Chinese who escaped from the war, are peaceful people; they work in their land and planted nutmeg, cloves,rubber and later durian. They both contributed much to the development of Balik Pulau today...
According to Pejabat Daerah Barat Daya website, Balik Pulau has the population of 195,600 in 2005, with Malay as majority with 119,800 people(61.25%),followed by Chinese 52,300 people(26.73%), the remaining is Indian 12,100(6.19%) and other races 11,400 people(5.83%). Most of the Chinese in Balik Pulau are Hakka, especially Huichiew Hakka.
Balik Pulau was famous for species in the old days, especially nutmeg and cloves. Now the place is famous for its durian.
There are two routes to reach Balik Pulau town; one is hilly road from Paya Terubong/ Relau, the other is the old coastal road from Teluk Kumbar.
Time to go home, the road Jalan Tun Sardon, to Paya Terubong/Relau
The figure on the facade of the church clearly stated 1854, was the year the church was completed.
The beautiful entrance of the church
Looking up to the cross of the church
The Catholic Church - The Holy Name of the Jesus Church, Balik Pulau. It was completed in 1854.
SMK Sacred Heart(圣心中学) or Sacred Heart High School, located at the main road, beside the church. Formed in 1950, SJKC Sacred Heart (圣心小学) was formed earlier in 1909, both by Diocesan Schools , Parish. The Catholic De La Salle Brothers. also build SK St George and SMK St George in 1953.
The beautiful facade of the shophouse
The old Balik Pulau Market, which is vacant now, as new market has opened at Jalan Tun Sardon, Balik Pulau.
Another shophouse with antique door, No: 100,Main Road. This house was built by Kapitan Cina Chee, great great grandfather of the present occupant, Mr Khoo Poh Siew. This traditional shophouse is historically link with the famous Balik Pulau Kim Laksa, the grandma Khoo was the founder of Kim Laksa.
Look at the roof top of the old shop house
Balik Pulau town main road
The fountain at the small round about, built by Koh Seang Tat(辜上達, 1833-1910)in 1882.
The road sign
The other end of the main road, it lead to hill path to Air Itam Dam.
The main road to Genting and it finally link to Teluk Kumbar and Bayan Lepas.
The road to Paya Terubong/Relau