Kerling Hot Springs

Met a Chinese family swimming in the river and they asked me where I am from. I told them KL and they asked: “How on earth did you manage to find this place?”. They said even though they are locals, they got lost getting here the second time around.

Since it is a weekday, the place is almost deserted. I was told on crowded weekends, it is also visited by locals mostly. Nice that the locals have their own secret and very remote hideout for recreation and picnics. Maybe not (so secret) anymore.

I went to look for the hot springs on another side. It is channeled into a pool and inside was sweet Sheela with the coy smile, and splashing hot water Kollywood-style. She’s also a local and works in an office in Batang Kali.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f11, 1/400 sec.

Ulu Yam In A Nutshell

Chinese folks from elsewhere go to the Ulu Yam area for one main reason. To try the famous Hokkien ‘lor mee’ there. It is a dish of yellow noodles cooked in a sourish vinegar broth. Although the dish originated in Ulu Yam Lama, several other restaurants at Ulu Yam Bharu serve it.

Apart from the now third-generation original shop in Ulu Yam Lama, the other popular ones are Aik Koon and Hock Lay in Ulu Yam Bharu. The former was closed when I was in town looking for food, so I settled for the latter. Fermented acetic acid isn’t exactly my cup of tea; so I asked for another recommendation besides lor mee. The head waitress suggested their signature dish of Shrimps In A Coconut, which she claimed is their creation.

The prawns are cooked in coconut juice (coconut water) and not santan (coconut milk). As a result, the mild curry prawns have a very distinctive fragrance and unique sweet taste. It comes with a tom yum-like dip that is spicy and sour. Excellent fare and reasonable pricing from Hock Lay Restaurant.

Waitress is also talkative, informative and cooperative. She helped me move my food and gear to a darker and cooler corner after I finished photography at a brighter side. Although this dish has no pork in it, the restaurant is not halal. Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f4, 1/250 sec. The nearest decent hotel is The Leverage Business Hotel in Rawang. Available from MyCen Hotels at

The Watermelon Brothers

One of the things I like about this trip is the chance to chat with local small traders. They are an important component of a small town’s economy and that role is seldom acknowledged. I asked Yusof the watermelon trader and native of Batang Kali about business at day’s end. He said he was breaking even. Yusof, who is 21, started trading when he was 11. Perhaps it is a family tradition as the younger brother who is helping him is now also 11. Small town people are friendly and are happy to chat with out-of-towners. There is one special quality about them that you will notice right away. I told Yusof he is quite enterprising and successful for his age and he replied by saying he is just doing his small part to help out the family.

Glad to feel the unique Malaysian (and Asian) cultural trait of humility alive and well in the countryside. In the city and in the corporate world, western-influenced training teach people to say “never been better” or “awesome”, even if you didn’t ask. The coaches and practitioners claim it is to reaffirm their success and to spread (or hype) positivity. On the opposite side, their rural counterparts intentionally downplay success through modest words. That I admire and respect. Nearest comfortable hotel to Batang Kali is The Leverage Business Hotel in Rawang. Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f7.1, 1/100 sec.

The Roadside Teddy Bear Shop

Federal Route 1

The Roadside Teddy Bear Shop.

The new Batang Kali town is about 6 kilometers from Ulu Yam Bahru and is now considered a foothill town of Genting Highlands, albeit on the back side. Out of curiosity and to see if I can include a child’s input, I asked a little girl at a fruit stall what she considers a local attraction or an interesting place for me to photograph. Without hesitation, she yelled: “Kedai Teddy Bear!”.

Every adult around us laughed but I thought it was quite an awesome suggestion. Confirmed the location of the shop with her parents and off I went searching for it. It turned out to be quite a charming subject for photography, especially with another enchanted little girl (of about the same age) in it. Nothing beats local knowledge but only if you ask. Nearest comfortable hotel to Batang Kali is The Leverage Business Hotel in Rawang and Rawang Happy Station Hotel.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f8, 1/100 sec.

#documentaryphotography #streetphotography #smalltown #batangkali #teddybear #federalroute1 ‪#‎tvsfr1‬ #sonyalpha #a7r #zeiss

Route 66: The Other Road To Genting Highlands.

If you see Genting Highlands clearly while driving on Federal Route 1, you know you are near Malaysia’s own Route 66. Few people realise how close the mountain resort is until they see it from this location. This moonlight-like shot was photographed with a 600mm lens and polarizer from the roadside of Route 1.

First World Hotel, the colourful complex on the left most, once held the record as the largest hotel in the world with a total of 6,118 rooms. It was dethroned by two other slightly larger casino hotels: The Venetian Las Vegas + The Palazzo and the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Klang Valley people are used to accessing Genting via the Karak Highway and Genting Sempah. A proper road (Route B66) was opened in the 1980s to connect Genting via Batang Kali and Ulu Yam. The road is linked to Gohtong Jaya on the eastern end. The Ulu Yam exit also provides an alternative route to Batu Caves and Kuala Lumpur.

Ulu Yam’s claim to fame is not just its connection to the east. It offers more.

Panasonic GM-1, ISO 200, f6.3, 1/2000 sec.