In my hometown, Batu Pahat (30th July - 6th August 2007)

Monday, 30th July 2007: I took a taxi back to Batu Pahat today (this may sound strange to some of you but it’s rather common to taxi interstates here, and Singapore<->Johor). Costs RM50 and took about 2 hours to get home. You’ll notice that you’ve crossed the country border – high rise buildings and factories with a mix of oil palm, coconut and rubber tree plantations along the journey.

I’m so used to driving in NZ and I must say, I was somewhat fearful being a passenger in the taxi I rode home. The driver and front passengers (yes, it’s ‘passengers’ because there was a man and his 3-year-old son on the seat) were not wearing their safety belts – they just draw it near the clasp when passing areas where the driver knows are popular police checkpoints. How dangerous! To add to my ‘heart attack’, the driver was driving at speeds of 140kmph when the speed limit is 110kmph on the highways. Yikes!! The many cars (and ‘super’ drivers), motorbikes and people makes it rather stressful to drive in Malaysia (and I’m not even the driver!).

My hometown, Batu Pahat (translated from Malay which means ‘chiselled rock’, also commonly known as BP), is a town/district located on the west coast of the state of Johor, Malaysia. The population is about 330,000 and has Johor's second largest manufacturing industry. I haven’t been back since 2005 – every time I come back, the town seems busier with more vehicles, people and shops!

The family home looked much the same, just older and surprisingly, with only mum and dad at home, it felt cluttered. About time for me to go through my old stuff and rid or pass them on to others.

I went to visit 3-yipo (my babysitter, who’s also my maternal grandma’s 3rd sister). This woman never fails to impress me - at the age of 76, she has got a mobile phone and knows how to use it! She’s real funny and it’s interesting listening to her stories about her new findings. Her house brings back lots of memories from when I was there (she used to take care of me when I was younger while my parents were at work) – days that I would cycle around her kitchen on my tricycle while she was cooking, and waiting at the front door for her son to return home to take me out for a ride on his bike. It was really nice of her to make her yummy fishcakes and crackers for my trip home :)

Next was a visit to see Mama (my maternal grandma). My grandma looked much older than I remembered and it makes me feel sad seeing her, walking with her now ox-bowed legs and has swollen joints on her hands (gout). Despite that, she still finds activities to keep herself busy. Her current interest, other than karaoke singing, includes Korean soap operas. Seems to be the ‘it’ thing to do for the local Chinese women at the moment :)

Tuesday, 31st July 2007: Went out for dim sum with mum and dad this morning. Hmm, not bad but not as good as the ones I’ve had in Perth and Wellington. I got to drive the Kembara (mum’s 4x4) and it felt strange sitting so high up. Something about the vehicle makes me wary when turning corners – felt unbalanced, as if it might just tip over.

Dad and I briefly stopped by his office located in the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. I used to hang out at the offices here in the afternoons (mum used to work in another office just 5 doors away) and we knew pretty much everyone in the building. Today, mum's old office is unoccupied and most of the staff in the other offices I knew from before had left the premises. Photos taken:

I’ve developed a cough and headache from lack of sleep… :(

Went to Muar for dinner with paternal grandparents, Ah-Kong (that's what I call my grandfather) and Ah-Po (my grandma). Muar is dad’s hometown, situated in northwestern Johor. It’s about 53kms away from Batu Pahat. Dad offered me to drive his car to Muar but I decided not to – so many cars, motorbikes, cyclists, and pedestrians everywhere! Some motorists didn’t even wear their helmets. Photos taken on car journey to Muar:

Wednesday, 1st August 2007
: Started clearing my old stuff in the study room – man, I sure have a lot of junk collected over the years! Found lots of old stuff e.g. photos, cheesy romantic notes from past pursuers, school trophies etc. Lots of memories, both happy and sad, flood through my mind.

Didn't do anything very interesting today. I did go out to finalize the tour arrangements to Penang-Langkawi (mum and I are going next week) and stopped by Mama's house for afternoon tea of 'goreng pisang dan keledek', which is battered fried bananas and sweet potatoes with 1st-ku (mum's eldest younger brother - just to clear things a bit, he's the 3rd child in mum's family but the first son) who was around for the week. Quite a lot of fritters for RM3.

At times in BP, the water supply gets cut off without prior warning. This is the colour of the water when we got the water supply back (it's not Nescafe coffee, ok? And next to it is a bottle of filtered water):

I sure hope the water has some skin healing properties because I desperately need to shower before meeting my friends from college, Keong Leng and Poh Chuin, for supper!

Thursday, 2nd August 2007: Went out with mum to run some errands in town today. A photo here of Jalan Omar, one of the few streets in Batu Pahat that traffic flows differently (and the confusion is obvious) and the latter picture of the main street, Jalan Rahmat:

Mum and I went to pick up Mama and 1st-ku out for lunch at this new noodle shop called Ajisen Ramen. Advice for those who haven't been there - you might want to share a bowl as the serving is massive! And it wasn't cheap either. Costs around RM15 for a bowl of ramen. Not something you would want to do often (for this price, you could probably get yummier hawker food elsewhere in town and enough to feed a family of 4). We stopped by Old Town White Coffee shop, which is owned by the same owner of Ajisen, to try out their famous white coffee. There are many of these coffee shops in town - a upper class coffee shop serving old-style coffee and meals. Photos of our day:

After all our travels, mum and I deserve a bit of pampering. We headed to The Summit (local shopping centre) to Thai Oasis for a 1.5 hour Thai massage. Yep, those twist-n-crack kind of massage but oh, it felt good. I nearly fell asleep! Costs us RM83 each for the massage. It would have been better if there was someway to reduce the voices coming from the reception area to make it even more relaxing.

Friday, 3rd August 2007: Weather today was rather humid and sticky. Was out with mum as usual and found the 'pulut man' at Jalan Mohd Akil so stopped to buy some 'pulut' (rice pudding - it's a sweet dessert) from him. You don't see these sort of stalls nowadays where the seller cycles around town and sounding his cowbell as he cycles along the streets. Bought one white and one black rice pudding from him. Oh, the other interesting thing about food stalls here is that they still pack the food into plastic bags and tie it with raffia string. Here are the photos taken of our 'pulut man':

We continued our journey to Jalan Rahmat. Below are photos taken there of the main post office (you have to risk your life crossing the street to the post office because the traffic lights no longer function, and the drivers do not slow down for pedestrians) and one of Chinese Chamber of Commerce:

Oh yeah, for those of you who haven't been in BP for sometime, have a look at this road, Jalan Tan Swee Hoe:

I used to go to the Convent girls school located on this street and back then, the road was nothing like it is now. The once forested land has been cleared up for new shop lots and housing schemes. The road is probably 2-3 times bigger and very busy!

Saturday, 4th August 2007: Met up with some of my highschool girlfriends today for 'yum char' breakfast. I haven't seen them since my last visit back in 2005 but it didn't felt as if we had been apart for that long. Ley In is due to give birth anytime in the next week or so - still jolly and happy as ever. Meng Li just got back from Australia and Belinda is still working in Johor Bahru. It was lovely to catch up with them and laugh about our days in highschool. Photo of us at breakfast:
I don't think I've ever showed you my college (college is NOT highschool in Malaysia; it's a tertiary institution). This is Kolej Aman Batu Pahat, just about 10 minutes walking distance from home, a place where I spent my first 2 years of uni in:

Sunday, 5th August 2007 - Monday, 6th August 2007: Have been spending my days throwing old stuff away and finally clearing some space to unpack my bag (I've been living from my 20kg bag for nearly a week now!).

Clothes shopping is really cheap! Unfortunately I couldn't buy much since I would still be moving around for the next 2 months but man, I could get a nice top for RM3 (can't even get coffee for that price in NZ!). Make sure when you come visit, save some money and you can splurge here :)

Met up with my college friends on Sunday evening. Keong Leng and Poh Chuin had asked Lay Fan and Shin Yann to join us. All of them seem to be really busy with work - felt like only yesterday, we were all hanging out in college having group study, playing pool etc., and look at us now, all grown up and each of us leading different lives. There are a few others from our batch but most are scattered elsewhere so couldn't meet up. Time really flies - we've known each other for over 6 years.

Hah - I knew it would happen! Every trip I come home, there would be 1 day that I would experience a power cut. And there no exceptions this time. We had 'candlelight' dinner (could hardly see the fishbones!!!) and had to take a drive out because there were lots of mosquitoes around. Part of the town was in darkness. Do we get informed beforehand, you ask? Nope - it just happens and you have to put up with it until the power comes back, which could be several hours later. Photos from the past 2 days:


  1. I was working in a bank in KL in the 1970s and used to travel to Johor to audit the branches there.

    I oftened stayed overnight in Batu Pahat or Muar on my way back.These towns were really idyllic back then.

    Seeing those photos of yours brought back many pleasant reminisces for me.

    Thanks for the memories.

    Best Wishes,

    Dance Aficionado

  2. Hey all,

    We have just finished a post about the Things to do and Attractions in Batu Pahat.

    Do check out our post before your next trip yah?


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