Spicy In Selayang

Tasty Mee Siam Special with Sambal Sotong (spicy cuttlefish) in Selayang; at the start of my northbound adventure. The stir-fried vermicelli dish is a fusion of Chinese, Malay and Thai flavours. A very basic version used to be school canteen food.

Kluang Rail Coffee is purportedly the only authentic outlet outside Kluang officially connected with the original Kluang Railway Station Coffee in Kluang, Johor.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f7.1, 1/60 sec.

Serendah The Pleasantville

Many refer to Federal Route 1 as the ‘Old Road’. This is the old road of the old road traversing Serendah. On some stretches, original sections of the trunk road were bypassed instead of widening it.

Serendah faded away after the opening of the NSE but slowly bounced back as a pleasant retreat for city people clamouring for nature and greenery.

Narrow as the road was, an invading army marched through it. According to Wikipedia, Federal Route 1 was the main route for the Japanese Imperial Forces moving from Songkhla to Singapore during the Battle of Malaya between 1941 and 1942.

I used hand-colouring with faux Technicolor tones to depict the town’s gradual return to life; from black and white to sepia to full colour. The concept was used in the 1998 film, Pleasantville, starring Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. More of Serendah coming up.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f6.3, 1/800 sec.

Goyang Kaki

Rawang has soul. And soles. Taxi drivers and a passenger chilling at a taxi stand, watching life going by and sizing up a stranger with a camera. So-called ‘outstation’ taxi service is a waiting game for both passengers and drivers. The first passenger that arrives wait for other passengers to fill the car. It is a cost-effective ride sharing system.

The carefree connotation of the popular Malay idiom ‘goyang kaki’ (swaying a foot or leg in relaxation) is deceptive here. Idleness at this old part of town belies the bustle at the many newly developed areas in Rawang.

Rawang didn’t really suffer when it was bypassed by northbound traffic using the NSE. There is boom instead of gloom for two main reasons. Rawang was a busy hub and remains so. As a commercial and transportation hub, it serves the smaller towns such as Batu Arang, Serendah, Batang Berjuntai and beyond.

Astronomical residential property prices in KL/PJ meant people are willing to stay further in neighbouring towns. The number of new hypermarkets and housing estates in Rawang bear testimony to the phenomenon. Some of the locals I spoke to lament that everything has become more expensive as a result.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f4.5, 1/800 sec.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Lamps

Saw a temple in the middle of this first stopover town northbound on Federal Route 1. I went inside the See Yeah Kong Temple in Rawang to take a quick look.

Photography Notes: The Sony Zeiss 24-70mm is my ‘go to’ lens for this kind of run-and-gun photography. I also have the 55 mm f1.8 Sonnar T* in the bag, should the interior be too dark or if I need more focus isolation. As it was, the zoom rendered a nice bokeh.

Was a good morning warmup and workout for the gear. I foresee a long day of exploration when I return to the Ulu Yam area afterwards.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1000, f4, 1/400 sec.

The Journey Begins

This is the start of a new photo essay on the first interstate main road of Malaysia; the Federal Route 1. It spans over 800 kilometers, beginning at the border with Singapore, and ending at the border with Thailand. Constructed in stages from around 1909, it was the backbone of Peninsular of Malaysia until it was supplanted by the newer North-South Expressway in the 1980s and 1990s.

I hope to visit some of the landmarks and towns along the old route and record the many long lasting effects on the landscape. While the impact may not be as severe as the decay of the famous and longer Route 66 of America, little is documented of the decline of the many once-bustling towns on our historic Federal Route 1.

The journey north from KL to Ipoh used to begin at Bulatan Kuching. Travelers were soon greeted by a hilly and winding road into Templer’s Park. The Kanching Falls, along with pristine forests and streams were once popular attractions for KL residents. From Route 1, motorists can still see this landmark limestone and granite monolith that is part of Bukit Takun. It is now surrounded by gated housing and a golf course, though.

Next stop is the first stopover town of Rawang. Follow me on this fascinating journey.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f11, 1/640 sec.