There’s A Lesson In Here Somewhere

At the turning into Kuala Kubu Bharu town, I stopped to fill up and friendly pump attendant, Mr Rajamani, assisted me. Since he is KKB born and bred, I asked him if that’s anything interesting to see inside. He thought about it for a few seconds and said: “Not, really. Mostly government offices”.

Familiarity breeds indifference or nonchalance, I guess. It turned out to be the town with the most things to see, so far. Glad I went ahead and explored it, running into so many interesting people and places.

A former government servant, Rajamani has worked at this Shell station for the past 20 years after retiring from civil service. He is now 78, fit and sharp.

I am here again to refill before continuing north on Federal Route 1. Jaded as he was, his face light up when I showed him pics of some of the KKB residents I captured. He smiled broadly as he identified each by name.

Before I drove off, I asked him a question that was bugging me:

Me: “Were petrol stations, such as this one, affected when the highway opened up and transit traffic by-passed the small towns?”.

Rajamani: “Not, really”.

Me: “How is it?”.

Rajamani: “Locals have cars too lah”.

Photography Tip: On a road trip, pack along a small low-light lens but not for bokeh or stylo-mylo purposes. I put it to good use here where twilight was fast fading.

I normally click as I converse, composing with the rear LCD screen so that my face is visible to the subject. With the Sony Zeiss Sonnar T, I was able to dial a fast enough shutter speed to hand hold with one hand and also to freeze a very animated subject.

Goodbye KKB, thanks for the friendships and memories.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f1.8, 1/250 sec.

Ampang Pecah

From Kerling, I turned east on Federal Route 1 to head for Kuala Kubu Bharu town. Although KKB is rich in history and its route to the east is geographically significant, the town is known more for its colonial charm and surrounding greenery.

Hipsters flocked there for different reasons, though. The Hainanese bread shop that used to beguile them is now closed. Not to worry: they now lie on the middle of the road for a selfie. They pretend the modern interlocking tiles are ancient cobblestones.

KKB is also a stopover town for those traveling to Fraser’s Hill. Oddly, few visitors wonder about the logical existence or location of an older town.

Indeed, there was a Kuala Kubu without the fancy suffix or hip abbreviation. Tragedy struck the original town in 1883 when a nearby dam broke. It flooded and destroyed the entire town, killing a few dozen residents.

The then British colonial government built a replacement town a few kilometers away and it was named Kuala Kubu Bharu. Duh.

The annihilated town was subsequently renamed Ampang Pecah to mean Broken Dam in Malay.

This landscape was photographed in the Ampang Pecah area. With over a century to heal, it has recovered from site of mass destruction to become a serene and idyllic suburb of KKB. Few outsiders ever step foot here or know about its stormy past.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f11, 1/800 sec.