VISITORS to Penang Hill can expect to be greeted by beautifully crafted art pieces to keep them occupied while waiting at the lower station.
Among the art installations is ‘Renewal’, a sculpture made from unused parts of the funicular system, which comprise 20 shifter wheels, over 70 metres of wire rope and 18 metres of rail track.
The sculpture is accentuated with fused glass, a collaboration between Arkitek LLA Sdn Bhd (Penang) and Penang-based artist Fuan Wong.
Adding colour to the waiting area at the lower station of Penang Hill are paintings on six pillars.
They feature the ‘Flora and Fauna at Penang Hill’ by Dr Esther Geh who is a medical practitioner.
The plain pillars are now adorned with her paintings of monkey cups, fern leaves and scorpions.
Not to be missed is the Penang Hill Nickel Pin Art Monument located on the left side of the exit counter.
Created by the late local artist Nason Ponniah, the pin art is touted as the world’s largest nickel-plated pin art.
The 6.1m by 2.44m masterpiece, which was created using 2,316,500 pins, shows multiple sceneries and tourist attractions in Penang.
Presented as a gift to Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) in 2014, the nickel-plated pins, when pushed at different depressions against a thin black rubber sheet, have a three- dimensional effect.
PHC general manager Cheok Lay Leng said it took Nason more than a year to complete the monument single-handedly.
Additionally, visitors waiting for their turn to board the train can also take a seat on the 70-year-old Meranti tree stumps that have been made into benches.
There are also 12 benches made from old funicular parts for visitors to sit and relax.
Cheok said there is also a gallery at the queuing area that showcases the history, cultural heritage and development of Penang Hill since 1786.
He said the Penang Hill Lower Station had undergone a RM7mil extension to create a more comfortable space for visitors.
“Previously, visitors had to stand and line up for hours to go up to Penang Hill.
“Now, they can wait at the restaurants here or hang around the lobby.
“We now have the e-boarding system, where visitors can estimate the waiting time while walking around the refurbished lower station,” he said when interviewed on Wednesday.
Cheok also appealed to artists to come and contribute by beautifying the lower station.
“We will continue to improve along the way and we invite anyone who is interested in creating a legacy to contact PHC.
“More than 1.74 million visitors were recorded last year.
“I believe we will have more visitors this year,” he said, adding that the corporation will be focusing on eco-tourism.
Meanwhile, the Penang Hill funicular service will be shut down for the second biannual scheduled maintenance from July 1 to 5.
The scheduled maintenance will be carried out under the supervision of the funicular manufacturer Garaventa AG from Switzerland.
This is to ensure that the funicular system is always in tip-top running condition and meet stringent safety checks.