The calming sight and soothing sounds of the river belie the ferocious battles that was fought beside it during the Second World War. The road outside was littered with casualties from the British Indian Army attempting to thwart the invasion.
It was on this road that invading Japanese tanks rumbled through in its drive to capture Singapore in the south. This was the old road going north or south until the tolled-Slim River highway was constructed in the 1960s.
74 years later, the actions of the brave men are mostly forgotten or ignored. The river that bore witness remains as stoic as the giant, mossy boulders.
The stoical stance lessens the pain of indignation, I guess. Its banks are now littered with styrofoam boxes from disregardful picnickers.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 50, f22, 1/2 sec.
To tell the story of Federal Route 1, one must note the historical significance of this segment of the route.
Not many will remember, care or even know this. The first tolled highway wasn’t the North-South Expressway. It was this road between Tanjung Malim, Behrang and Slim River.
Built in 1966, the toll booths collected 50 sen from cars. The amount was a lot during its time and it was also perceived by many as mere widening and straightening of the existing Federal Route 1.
The Slim River Highway was indeed a very modest highway, especially when you are now comparing it with today’s 8-lane expressways. Still, in its time, it was an improvement over the nightmarish narrow and winding road that was crowded out by heavy vehicles.
Toll collection stopped in 1994 with the opening of the North-South Expressway.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 125, f13, 1/250 sec.
At the entrance of the town (or village) of Behrang Ulu is a striking green-painted shack. It turned out be a fascinating, old school Malay coffee shop.
A banana fritters hawker nearby told me the kedai kopi is opened only in the morning. I think that cat n the chair likes it that way.
Behrang Ulu is quite unique in that it is not only a multi-racial new village but it also has a town sign written in Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Must come again to have coffee and a chat with the locals.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f4, 1/250 sec.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and narrative as much as I enjoyed discovering them. The wheels roll on; another town, another adventure on Federal Route 1.
Photographed on the flyover built to circumvent the (previous) railway crossing and new electrified track. As I descend from the flyover into a junction, I will turn left to go north again.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5, 1/100 sec.
Yik Mun kopitiam in Tanjung Malim was a popular stopover during the heydays of Federal Route 1. The Chinese steamed buns shop was an institution.
Now run by third generation descendents, the restaurant is located outside the old town. A shophouse factory in town churns out the assembly-line buns. They are no longer hand-made.
I didn’t order their famous pau (steamed bun) this time. It tasted lousy on a previous visit. Fortunately, the shop sells other local food including the famous Malaysian invention; the Hainanese Chicken Chop.
I am a bit OCD when I see salad dressing carelessly splashed all over the dish. The Hainanese chicken chop’s gravy is a speciality by itself. Typically, it has oyster sauce, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce and blended secret ingredients in it. It must not be contaminated with Thousand Island dressing.
That aside, the chicken chop here tasted “so so” and the portion seems to have gotten smaller. At RM 14 ++, it is not cheap for a small town.
Nevertheless, the shop was packed when I was there. I guess a good reputation from the past can go a long way. Try it yourself and let me know what you think, if you are in town. Yik Mun is Halal.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1000, f4, 1/60 sec.