“Car Wash” Workouts

Read these first:-

(This is one of the more scary car wash made for an advertisement. But the true horror is seeing your loved vehicles being man-handled at the car wash centers and being blasted with cheap detergents & shampoos that can rust the car body and wash half done properly and you still need to pay for it. This was one thing that we decided not to do when and if we decided to open our own car wash center)

The dreaded GST came into effect from 1 April 2015 and one have to admit that while it has saved the Government’s hide for more than one occasions (especially when the price of oil went down), it however had brought a cascading impact on the country’s economy. The consumer have ended paying more for basic goods and services – in some cases, with an unnecessary spike in price even by those small traders who now have to pass on GST charges in their prices because the bigger traders have done the same. Guess who gets whacked left, right and center in the end?

On the positive side of the GST is that we have been forced to relook into the items we buy or consume on monthly basis and start to eliminate luxury items away. We end up scrutinizing our needs and then buying things that we really need for daily consumption and opt for more home cooked food than going for expensive menus at some fancy restaurants (and sadly that included our favourite Sushi restaurant). And soon, this list included McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Kenny Rogers. Nowadays our go-to-place is our local mamak restaurant.

2015 was a bad year and eventhough things started to “stabilise” in 2016, it was not a good year as well.

One day in 2015, I got a call from my cousin who was retrenched when his company decided to downsize the staff. Despite his good experience and skills, he was not retained and it was a bad timing indeed as his wife was also retrenched from her company almost the same time (but later found a position opened in the same organisation). My cousin after considering whether to go back to his 9 to 5 routine with another company decided instead to go into business with his friend. Together they opened a car wash center near to a car workshop. Business was slow on the weekends especially because the center was not next to the main road (where there are other car wash centers) and as most office in the vicinity were closed. I would occasionally bring my car to his car wash as well – I know he would do a good job and at the same time, I was able to support his business as well.

My cousin however was always on the lookout for a better place for the car wash – one that fronts the main road where it is easily seen by potential customers. And one day he called me saying that he got the right spot – when I visited him, it was good place indeed although he was not alone to provide car washing services in the area, there was another 2 – 3 car wash centers in the vicinity. First day at his place, I asked him to polish my car – it was cheaper than other places I often go and having my own cousin doing the polish works alone is a good reason to have the polish done here and not elsewhere. But then I saw his problem – he was doing the work all alone (another cousin joins in occasionally). Then when he was free, we had a chat – one thing I noticed he looked healthier (a bit darker but healthier). He slimmed down a lot as well (compared to the time when he was working in an air-conditioned, cozy office). And because he was his own boss, he looked less stressful as well – he had time to kill this time around.

Considering that he could use extra help especially on the weekends and since I don’t have much to do on the weekends (other than eat, sleep and watch TV), I decided to join-in to help him – I had always wanted to help him for all the things he had done when I first started to date my wife (back then he had already married, so although I am elder than him, in a way he was a “senior” than me when it comes to relationships, ha ha). I did not much money to spare for his business (good thing, he had other “investors” coming in) but I had the time and myself to help him. After discussing with him and getting his green light from my HEO, I came over on fine Saturday morning, wearing an old T-shirt and my short pants. No pay for the work done, which was ok for me as money was not the reason I joined him.

I have washed my own car many times before this but I found out that it is a whole different ball game when it comes to washing someone’s else car. Firstly some of the cars that comes in is clearly not driven by humans. Yes, I repeat it – not humans. Vomits, chips, spilled milk, dog furs, mud, black oil and dusts is just a small part of things that you will discover in some of the cars (especially, sorry to say, women drivers). It is amazing that there are humans out there who are willing to be driving on daily basis in a car covered with those things. Secondly some of the drivers who came in for the car wash are simply too impatient before we get the car all done. I noticed this mainly from the lady drivers, the male drivers on the other hand, don’t mind the extra time taken to clean their cars. Sometimes it is the other way around – too many cars lined up and very less time to get the car washed up and me and my cousin get too impatient to clear them.

At first, I follow the so-called “routine” – often looking for queues from my cousin and often limit myself to wiping down the car after it has gone through the snow wash. Then slowly I moved on to interior cleaning, vacuuming, tire polish and later on to shampooing the car (we did not use the cheap detergent but a proper car shampoo). And we embarked on improving the quality of service, gradually – one that immediately sets us apart from our competitors. We decided to wash the cars in the same manner we wash our own car or rather how we want car wash centers to wash our cars. Yes, it takes longer to complete the washing but in the end, the effort taken is much appreciated by our customers – the car is a lot more cleaner and we included a small effort of detailing of the interiors.

Which car wash centers dusts off the dusts on your dashboard. the dial meters and the finger prints on the mirrors and the old stain under the car plate number? Yes, we do all that. In fact, if we have time, we actually wipe and clean each strand of the tire rims to make it clean and shiny. Detailing is part of our services for no extra cost. And once we have done all the washing and wiping and before we hand over the keys back to our customers, there is one final round of quality check. And our customers loves that and so much that we often see them bring their cars, their wife’s car on weekly basis and telling their friends & family members to visit us as well. We got a lot of referrals and that pushed us to ensure quality is always maintained eventhough we have cars waiting to be washed. No rushed work as far as we are concerned. Surprisingly people wait for us – once a customer waited for 2 hours for my cousin to open shop. This is excluding those who are coming in for wax & polish (which took at least half a day to be done but we still had customers) and some to clean their headlights.

There were other developments as well – I started to meet my daily active minutes, consistently meeting it on the weekends when I am “working” at the car wash. And if there are enough cars to wash, I can easily clock in the minimum 10,000 steps. I sweat a lot so much so I started to drink gallons of water – sometimes within minutes my large 1.5 liter water bottle would be empty and I have to replenish on a regular basis. Interestingly drinking a lot of water when I am at “work” did not mean frequent visit to the toilet and in fact, all the days I was at the car wash, I did not once went to the toilet, no matter how much water I had been drinking the whole day. I gather most of the water that I drank is dispensed when I sweat a lot. It was a good workout from morning until late evening and by the time I come back home with a very soaked T-shirt, I would be energy drained – just enough to take a light dinner (sometimes a burger near the car wash) and knock off for a good night sleep. Yes, I started to lose weight and feel healthier as well.

Business was good except when it rains – there were days when we hardly had any cars due to the heavy rain. We will sit at the sofa, waiting for customers to come in once the rain had stopped but never once there have been a dull moment at the car wash except maybe when the cats from the nearby workshop decided to mess up the place (you know I hate cats right?). No dull moments because me and my cousin share the same passion for old Tamil songs especially one from MSV and Illayaraja – we will fire up our smartphones and sit down to listen to the songs whilst waiting for the rain to stop. On other days, we will recall back our childhood and incidents such as the meet up at our Grandma’s house for Deepavali. There were plenty of funny & interesting stories, some unknown to me from that “era” and we would end up laughing on that events. Usually after the rain had stopped, we will see cars now muddied coming over for a good wash.

My stint at my cousin’s car wash was however a short one – just several months short. My cousin soon found that despite good business and a string of loyal customers (ha, I even had one, coming in on the weekends for detailing), it was not enough to continue. He had other issues well to resolve – one had been manpower. It is hard to expand with just one person handling the whole thing. So ended my weekly workout at the car wash – I was kind of sad to leave that active & fun environment but my wife was relieved to see me at home on the weekends. My cousin had moved on as well – he got busy with other work but both of us agreed that if we have the chance and opportunity, we would open a proper car wash center but maintain the same level of commitment and quality. Car wash center is one kind of gym that gives you work and works you at the same time.


Quotable Quotes 3

Foremost, rest in peace to former South African President Nelson Mandela who passed away last Thursday. A real statesman like him will be greatly missed.


(Here’s one fine example of “instead of giving priority to the minorities, just concentrate on the majority”, courtesy of the Taliban – never forget one’s history even if it took place thousand years ago when “ketuanan” thing was almost non-existence and traders, preachers and intellectuals from every great civilizations made this country their home and trading port. Image source: Wikipedia)

Let’s start with this:-

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said those who avoid paying tax can be regarded as having betrayed the country. This, he said, was because the responsibility to pay tax was one of the pillars of patriotism.

“The definition of patriotism in our country is that we must discharge our responsibility to the country for the good of the people and the nation.

“When we pay tax, we are helping the people. We instil this spirit, with this our country will be more successful,” he said when opening the National Economic Empowerment (Pena) Conference at the Federal Territory Mosque auditorium here today.


You see, sometimes, I am not sure if we are suppose to be pitiful or angry on how Najib – the Prime Minister is behaving and making public statements. And for him to come out and call the tax-evaders traitors was rather confusing. While we strongly agree that tax-evaders should not be let off the hook and we strongly support any means to bring them to book, the real question is whether this another wayang kulit to deflect the attention on the latest fiasco on his wife? I don’t know but one thing for sure, it is bad timing for Najib to say these things. After all, if he is saying that whoever don’t pay their taxpayers as traitors, what about those who misuse the taxpayers and remains unpunished & unaccountable to anyone? What you call them these daylight robbers – ahem, national heroes?

From one pro-BN blog, the same sentiments was echoed and the over-spending and the abuse of taxpayers money is very worrying (ha ha, after riding high on Anwar’s sodomy’s case some time ago, these guys now realised that there are better ways to be sodomised left, right & centre and the Government is dishing it out on a regular basis. Interesting to see them being very restless now):-

Then it gets a bit more interestingly dumb…

Johor Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Anwar Rahmat today urged Putrajaya to form a committee to audit non-Bumiputera companies for not hiring Malay chief executives (CEO).

They (the Malays) are given low wages, poor chances and positions far from CEO positions, therefore Pemuda Johor welcomes (Khairy’s) call,” Khairul said during his address to Youth delegates at Umno Youth Annual General Assembly held in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), today.


I just do not know whether it is even possible to comment on one of the dumbest statement of year. Not sure if one can stoop that low to even to think of this idea of forming a committee to investigate the non-bumiputera companies who do not have a Malay as the CEO. Why stop at a committee? Why not go ahead and make a law that all CEOs must be a Malay? The level of greediness for high pay & position without the hard work & the experience is astounding.

Think about it – if I am a businessman and it’s my money, my main goal would be to get my company profitable, be a market leader in whatever industry I am in and make my shareholders very happy. For that, to run the company, I would pick the best, the most skilled & experienced people (with proper tactics and vision) to run the company. It does not matter whether that person is a Malay (my ex-boss was one fine CEO and he was highly professional too), Non Malay, Mat Salleh or even Martian. No one in their right mind would take any half past six idiot with nothing to show as the CEO – there must certain minimum qualifications attached to it and “color of the skin” on its own is not one of that qualification. Same shit happened here and makes the call to bring back brilliant Malaysians from abroad to serve the country ends up just another loud fart in the wind.

Of course, we can always trust them to put the cherry on the cake…

Kedah delegate Tajul Urus Mat Zain said the government’s move to gazette the land will only result in it losing votes at the next general election. Tajul, who is also Kedah state exco member and Tanjung Dawai state assemblyman, said almost every house might have a candi underneath.

“Instead of giving priority to the minorities, just concentrate on the majority.


Let’s face the hard-cold fact – the real history is dead in this country and everything simply boils down to race and religion and it gets manipulated even more by short minded politicians, out to score some cheap points. Just because the candi was used to be a Hindu temple more than a thousand years ago, it does not mean it is not part of the rich history of this country. One cannot be so ignorant – after all, the Malay culture has been richly infused with the past Arab, Hindu, Buddhist & Chinese influence and same goes to others who come to this great country (good example, we have even ang-pows in yellow packets for Deepavali now, ha ha). In fact, one would not be wrong to think that the ancestors of the present people in Kedah could have been the builders the very candi that the developer had “ignorantly” demolished. So can this important link to the past be easily wiped out with a stroke of a pen?

And if indeed the Government only focus on the “majority”, then you can count on losing every historic monument that is not related to the “majority” in this country one day. Still remember the uproar on our mission based national schools? Still remember on how the Taliban demolished the thousand year old Buddhas of Bamiyan just because it does not conform to the “majority” belief in the country? Interestingly the excuse that Taliban gave in demolishing the statute was this – “…destroying the statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue…”. Are we seeing the same insane thing creeping up in Malaysia?

A-Famosa “Unplugged”

(The very common image of the A Famosa fort in Malacca – something we have seen since we were kids but what is in the inside? What happens if one walks past the famed entrance? Will we be transported to another era? Image source: http://www.maleisure.com)

We went to Malacca for holidays recently – we picked Malacca primarily because we have heard about it, have read about it, we knew it is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list and in fact, have several times passed through it (couple of years ago) but we had never really stopped and see the heritage places in Malacca.

So we decided for the holidays, we will actually stop and visit the heritage & historical places in Malacca. Sadly accommodation was not up to our expectations but it was my mistake anyway. I should have done more “research” on the so-called 3 star hotel before I booked it. By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late – most of the other better hotels have been fully booked and we even saw people coming over to our hotel looking for rooms to stay for the night, only to be turned away. Anyway we decided not to have our holidays ruined due to a “glitch” in accommodations. After all, we only need it to sleep for the night – we were out early in the morning and only come back late in the evening.

For those who have been to Malacca, you know the drill – the places to visit, the food to eat and things to do. We had done some planning ahead of our trip and basically knew what we were planning to do on daily basis and in a way we did. I say “in a way” because unlike many who ventured into Malacca for the first time, we did not ride on a beca (we rather walked – it was faster and cheaper), we did not buy the ticket to go up the Taming Sari tower (it was raining and I guessed there were nothing much to see from the top with the heavy clouds. Besides, the ticket seemed too expensive – we rather spent it on food and souvenirs), we did not go for the satay celup or the chicken ball rice (the queue was just too long) or the Portuguese food (my wife was not feeling well) but we did go for Peranakan food and a long waited steamboat treat.

And out of the many things we did, we finally managed to visit the famed A-Famosa fort. The reason I say this in an “excited” manner is because all this while, since the day I saw the picture of the fort in Buku Sejarah in my primary school, I only have the seen the front of the fort (or rather the front gate) – the rest of the fort was destroyed by the English in 1806 (and not the Dutch as I always thought in the past). What is inside remained a mystery and only now that question has been answered.

(What the fort looks like in whole on paper back in 1780 before the English decided to destroy it in 1806. Image source: Wikipedia)

(The entrance from the inside – it was empty except for bricks and white mortar – the air seemed stale as if it has been locked from another era)

(The exit reinforced with steel arch – it is a sign of the historical site starting to crumble down, perhaps with the increasing number of visitors trampling on site and change of weather)

(Another angle of the entrance close up – it looks clean but rather very narrow. Perhaps it was meant to be so 400-500 years ago when narrow entrance was easier to be defended against a more weaker rebels)

Yes in the end, there was nothing but only bricks and mortar (and an old man with a violin). But it was satisfying – I touched the bricks and imagined the Portuguese and the Dutch in the old Malacca with the full glory of the Malacca Sultanate with its famous warriors like Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat facing each other in the background. I imagined the guards staying at the front manning the cannons. Perhaps in time, someone will recreate the fort as whole – in its glorious days for the future generation. That would be interesting indeed.

If one wants to see the so-called 1Malaysia in a true sense from the historical pages – Malacca seems to be the place. Malaysian in many form, culture and background – Malays, Chinese, Indians,  Baba-Nyonya, and Portuguese descendants and yes, count the Singaporeans, Indonesians and Bangladeshis in as well – there were more Singapore registered cars than Malaysia registered cars at the hotel car lot. There were plenty of cars in the city indeed – made worse by the long public holidays.

Traffic was bad but it all depends on how far is the hotel from the heritage and historical places. Walking around town would be the best but if there is a kid tagging along (like in our case), struck that out. Taxi on the other hand was way too expensive (we were taken for a ride on the first day – a short trip cost us RM10). So we opted to drive instead – that solved one problem but created another – where to park especially along the narrow one way streets with limited parking lots dotted along in Malacca. We parked far and did some walking – thankfully my son was up to it – especially when we decided to go to Jonker Walk.

It was a good trip and we have promised ourselves for another trip to Malacca very soon – but this time with a better hotel of course and perhaps do things that we opted to miss in this trip (more on food than others).

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History In Malaysia

Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters. ~African Proverb

(I still remember this – the history book that I used when I was young and in school. Image source: Blues Riders)

To tell you the truth, the subject of history have always fascinated me.

I hated the subject when I was in school; somehow the subject was made to be so boring. It was nothing but memorizing boring facts from an equally boring text book, taught by another boring teacher. It was something that I did not expect from the subject of history – a subject which I loved when I was small and discovered a thick history book in English in my childhood neighbor’s house.

It was lying on the table – the cover half torn but something about it caught my eyes. I opened and immediately noted that the content was comprehensive and laced with old photos. I asked permission from the owner, the neighbor’s eldest son and excitedly brought back home and threw myself in going through the details. The history book was laid in simple but comprehensive English. It had several chapters covering the major civilizations in the world. It kind of kept in my possession for several years (the owner decided that it will be useful to me than him).

But still, at the time I was slogging through the school and was on the way to greater things, the content of history was still kind of balanced – a bit of everything but just enough for a stressed-out student in national schools.

Then when I was in Law School, there was a bit touch of history when I did Jurisprudence and it was interesting. Then the History and Discovery Channels came through Astro and that wiped out my whole understanding of what is history. I learned about the Romans better through the Discovery Channel than the time I read about them from the books. History is now comes in better visuals – almost CSI like investigative presentation and facts backed by evidence and more balanced insights. History is now backed by science, eye-witnesses and new evidences.

(Early Indians in Malaysia – it gives me the goosebumps whenever I see old black & white photos. I wish I can go back in time and see  how these people lived and interacted with each other. How was the surroundings and how deep their culture was? Image source:  CJ.MY)

Several years ago, I saw a school History book on my colleague’s table – it was his daughter’s and he had to bring it to work for him to get some photos from the net for her daughter’s assignment. I glanced through and I was shocked – after a long time I had not looked into the school books (still having the phobia), it appeared to me that the standard of learning history has gotten to a new low. The content was too simple, focused more on certain civilizations and the other equally rich background civilizations seemed to be made in the passing.

Perhaps it is why, this was raised:-

History textbooks are biased and littered with errors, claim two authors and academicians. Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi and Ng How Kuen, who write history textbooks for Chinese schools, say their experience with officialdom does not augur well for the teaching of history in our classrooms.

Ranjit, author of secondary school history textbooks since 1990, and adviser to the Ministry of Education (MOE) on history textbooks, said such materials were littered with factual errors and distortions. He said that when he pointed out the errors and distortions, a ministry official labelled him “anti-national”.

“Secondary school history textbooks have been used to promote political interests. It should be a scholarly pursuit and not politically-motivated,” said Ranjit who showed theSun history textbooks with errors and exaggerated facts.

“Five out of 10 chapters of the Form Four history textbook deal with Islamic history as compared to only one chapter in the earlier textbook. The intention of the earlier syllabus was to expose our students to World History,” he said when commenting on the announcement that the history syllabus is being reviewed and that the subject will be made a compulsory pass in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia from 2013.

“The coverage of important historical events such as Renaissance and Industrial Revolution has been reduced by more than half,” he said.

He also said certain historical personalities, such as Yap Ah Loy (the third Kapitan China of Kuala Lumpur), were not given due recognition.

Yap played a major role in the development of Kuala Lumpur as a commercial and tin-mining centre, particularly after the fire of 1881,” he said, adding that the Form Two history textbook had only one sentence on Yap as “one of the persons responsible for developing Kuala Lumpur”.


But then again, I only looked at one book and have not been following on the “evolution” of the history contents in school books since I left school. In the age of broadband internet and satellite TV, learning the history is no longer confined to school books. There is more than one avenue from where one can learn what had happened in the past.

And when it comes to what need to be taught as history in our national schools – we are indeed at a cross road.

Do we strip away the wealthy facts of history from the other civilizations and the original immigrants and only focus on what happened in Malaysia long, long time and the people who been here before the British? Or we look deeply into what we can learn from history regardless of civilizations and the people behind the key events in history (like Mahatma Gandhi or Lawrence of Arabia)?

(What if the Japaneses had won the war in the Pacific? How our history would look like then? Image source: http://www.worth1000.com)

It only seems right that the young ones learn about the history of Malaysia and its people first before we can start exploring on the history of the world. But at the same time, the history of the country should not politicized or distorted or allowed to be factually incorrect. Yes, history has been written and rewritten by the majority, by those who have won over major conflicts, by those in power and those with the money. Just imagine how our history books would look like if the Nazis have won the Second World War or if Parameswara have not decided to escape from Singapore and founded the Sultanate of Malacca? So, certainly the content of the history books would be “adjusted” accordingly.

But what is not desired if even the known event in history has now been riddled with factual errors and major distortions. Setting aside the factors of biasness and racial tone of the argument, that is the point that Dr Ranjit is trying to make is valid.

It does not matter that “5 out of 10 chapters of the Form Four history textbook deal with Islamic history” – it is still part of our history but what is needed is that history (no matter which area of the civilizations or era) is presented as whole and in a truthful manner, as close as possible. We should not let the young ones to look back and see things differently.

Read Also

Confusing History with Racial Prejudice

Hari Ini Tiada Sejarah

Childhood Memories – Part 18

Read the rest of the series here

(Toong Fong was one the bus that I took on daily basis when I was still very young. I was not that old to take this model – lane: Chan Sow Lin Road but the Toong Fong logo on the side of the bus remained until it was absorbed into Intrakota. Image source: here)

Remember those days when some of us “used” to take the BUS? Some of you who use the bus for daily commute to work may be wondering what the hell BJ is taking about but I have admit – it has been quite a while since I last took a bus (these days the routes gotten so confusing).

I drive these days and despite the ever increasing toll and petrol prices these days, I have not resorted to taking the bus. Not that I do not want to but there is no bus that goes from my “house front door” to the “office front door”. Besides, it is easier to drive if there is a need to meet with customers. But there was a time when I had nothing to take but the bus to get from Point A to Point B (taxis were too expensive those days).

K.L., Klang & Port Klang (KKPK)

My first encounter with KL, Klang & Port Klang Omnibus was when I was still young – perhaps when I was still a baby. The earliest recollection of the KKPK buses is that their signal lights were shaped in the form of an arrow and they had this huge menacing looking front (having red as the colour of their body did not help much). As a young boy, it was scary to be standing by the roadside as these monsters passes us by.

Unlike these days, we will have a bus conductor whose main job would be to collect the money and pass us the tickets (it was so colourful, me and my siblings used to have the whole collection – ticket pricing more than RM1.00 was rare ones). Conductors had their own styles when issuing tickets – some punch holes, some just tears them. The bus conductor also acted as the 2nd eye for the driver at the back and occasionally steps in for crowd control (no one was more capable to say “masuk dalam, masuk dalam” (go in, go in) and the crowd obeys it without fail).

(It is very difficult to get photo of KKPK buses in it’s original red and white livery. This bus’ livery is after KKPK was absorbed into Cityliner but similar models used to ply the Puchong – Old Klang Road – KL route. Image source:here)

Another thing that caused an interest when I took the bus was the bell to tell the driver that we wanted to get down on the next stop. There were two types of bell that I saw – the single bell with words “Press Once” around it or the long rubber line design when came in much later. The long rubber line design was more efficient because the line ran from back of the back and to the front – the bell rings no matter which part of the black rubber that we touched.

Interestingly the KKPK buses were not that “loud” as compared to the old Toong Fong buses (their engines tucked away from the interior).

Toong Fong Omnibus (TFO)

TFO buses ruled the trunk roads to my grandma’s house – so if one needs to go to grandma’s house, we need to either go all the way to Pudu Raya where TFO had several platforms to themselves or go to Salak South Garden where we can hop on the same bus half way the journey. My dad is usually be working on the weekends so normally it is up to my mom to bring us to see grandma – a strong beloved lady who will make the trip herself (on her own) to see us.

(One of the newer Toong Fong buses with a refreshed livery and air-conditioner. Note the bus lane number at the front top – it really shines at night. Image source:here)

One thing I liked about TFO was that they were more innovative than the rest – they bought in newer buses faster than the other bus companies and they had an unique way to display the numbers on the front of the bus – fluorescent display boards which was nice to see at night but pretty useless during the day

When I had to take the TFO bus from my grandma’s house to school in KL, it is a ritual that starts almost at 4 in the morning. Because it is was a long journey from Serdang to KL and the traffic jam that comes along with it, my dad made sure that we took the first bus to KL on the dot, every schooling days. Waking up so early in the morning although was a torture in itself, enabled us to get the best seats in the bus and sleep the whole journey to KL. Seeing us so frequently, the bus conductors soon got close to us and sometimes it helped as the bus waits for us if we are seconds late to the bus stop. Bus conductors also wake us up if we overslept for the journey to KL or from KL.

SJ Kenderaan (SJK)

We call them – Sri Jaya bus. This bus ran from what was known as Klang Bus Stand to Brickfields but this was not the usual ride that I often took to go to school (unless of course, if one is going to Bangsar or Pantai Dalam – SJK buses are the “main” buses to take). Compared to Toong Fong, they were quite bland (including the ticket design) but it had its own unique interior styling – the seat design was a bit different (SJ was using a lot of Isuzu models whilst the rest was using TATA or Hino). I recall once when me and my school mate, Punendran had an argument when it came to SJK and TFO – which bus was the fastest. Needless to say, we both won on our arguments without much evidence.

(Sri Jaya bus with it’s original livery in front of Kota Raya (I think) before it was absorbed into Intrakota.  Notice the different window design which was worked well during rainy days and seating arrangement at the front. Image source: here)

But I will always remember SJK for one thing – this was the bus when I heard great 1980s Tamil song early in the morning when I was going to school. It just happens that the driver is an Indian driver who had a simple radio setup at front and he had nothing but Illayaraja 1980s hit songs. It came to a point where I was willing to miss couple of buses just to pick this particular bus for my trip to school.

Honourable mentions

Of course, other than the above 3 – I had my share of experience travelling in Metrobus, CityLiner, Intrakota, Rapid KL and not forgetting the notorious BMW (Bus Mini Wilayah – where I once travelled from Old Klang Road to down town KL with just one foot on the stairs whilst one hand holding the hand rail. And who can forget the usual shout from the conductor asking us to make 2 lines in the cramped standing area and then the conductor squeezing in the middle to collect the money?). But these came in after I started with college and soon working. I was already itching for other alternative mode of travel – biking.

Read Also

The Madness Called Mini Buses

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Flashback – 2009

It is the time of the year again for a quick review of the path that this blog have taken throughout the year 2009.

(The maestro finally grabbing the Oscars for his music for Slumdog Millionaire in 2009 – image source: http://gudies.wordpress.com)

Read past flashbacks:-

January 2009

February 2009

  • The lopsided agreement is out in the open
  • Nagesh, the veteran comedian passed away
  • The state of Perak and Malaysians as whole got screwed
  • Call for Elizabeth Wong to step down after comprising photos was leaked in the net
  • Dr M said Malaysians cannot be Malaysians unless they think like Malaysians
  • Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars!

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

  • In the anticipation for NaNoWriMo 2009, I managed to complete my 2008 story in full
  • Hindraf rally was remembered
  • After 50,131 words, I managed to pass the NaNoWriMo 2009’s finishing line

December 2009

Hope to have a good year in 2010

Happy New Year and Happy Holidays everyone!

Childhood Memories Part 17

Read the rest of the series here

(The start of our journey on the trains, the old train station – Image source: http://spwise.wordpress.com)

These days when I go back to my in-law’s house in Taiping for a well deserved rest, we usually take the North South Highway and it takes us about 3 hours to reach. But there was a time in the late 70s and early 80s when we used travel to Taiping by train during the festivals (very rare Deepavali celebrations in Taiping) or when someone had kicked the bucket or when someone very close was getting married.

Back then, we did not have any cars – so travelling by road to Taiping was off the question. In fact, it was very, very rare that even if someone kicked the bucket or there is a marriage, all of us will go. It was expensive to hire a car too. So, the best choice if we have decided to go as one family would be to go by train (still remember Express Rakyat and Express Senandung Malam?). Of course, we could have taken the bus but my Dad loved trains and he made sure that he made enough (usually working throughout the night) to take the whole family by train. Besides, my Dad being a lorry driver back then did not really liked the idea of taking bus at night and travelling on dangerous trunk roads.

We would pack our things early and will be waiting for Dad to come back from work. He usually comes in at night and confirms whether we are indeed going to Taiping (this is because he will get his monthly pay on the last minute before Deepavali). My Mom will cook something simple so that we don’t have to waste time if we are confirmed leaving to Taiping that very night. This however has not stopped my Dad to cook something special for the night. “There is plenty of time”; he assures us (and Mom).

After a heavy dinner, we would have packed up and then head to the bus stop with my Dad and Mom carrying most of the luggage. There is no prior ticket bookings or online booking those days so in a way, we were taking some risk. We will rush to the train station and my Dad would queue up to buy the tickets whilst we waited anxiously to put our foot on the train platform. As I recall, all those years, we always been lucky – there is always a ticket for all of us except for one particular year (we had to come home when the tickets were sold out – everyone was so disappointed).

Depending on the amount of cash he has, my Dad sometimes book for us the sleepers – which has comfortable beds. Otherwise, it is the standard economy seat for us until we reach Taiping and in those days, the seats were not exactly comfortable for long journey. For this reason, we usually end up walking about the cabin when our backs started to give indications of pain and stiffness. Sometimes we walk all the way to the luxury class – just to see how the rich people are travelling in comfort. We will get excited and imagine ourselves travelling in one of those luxury classes.

(I still get excited when see a train passing by and the sound of the cabin passing on the track. Image source: http://www.trainweb.org)

My Mom usually packed something for us to eat during our journey – although there is a meal cabin and food sellers usually walk about the train cabins selling food and drinks, we usually opt not to buy them. The reason is simple – we could not afford to spend money on those items (most of the money already been spent on the tickets and for future use once we reached Taiping, sigh). But when we stop over at certain stations and it will take say couple of minutes before the train “takes off”, my Dad would go down and quickly pack some food and drink from the station cafeteria. Of course this is a big risk because the train could move before my Dad comes back with the food, so what he does is that he will inform the KTM officials (the one holding the flag) stationed at the platform that he is going down to buy some food – so he usually makes it back on time.

But there was a close call once.

My Dad went down the platform as we were peering out the window, watching him running towards the shop and after a moment, we lost sight of him (it was not easy to look for people at night). Suddenly the train started to move and my Dad was no where to be seen. Being kids, we started to panic but my Mom remained relax. She said that at the worst case scenario – Dad can always take the next train to Taiping. The train moved and soon it was on cruising speed. We actually thought we had left Dad stranded at the platform when suddenly he walked towards us from another cabin. He had entered the train from another door and the official had noted this before giving the green flag.

(The Taiping train station – it still looks the same even now after all these years – image source: http://www.preetamrai.com)

Travelling by train is very tiring mainly due to the low quality of its seats and also because we are travelling at night, we can’t see much on the outside (nothing to distract us from the boredom in the inside). So, when we are about to reach Taiping, everyone looked very relieved. When we reached Taiping, it will be on wee-hours (as I recall 3 – 4 in the morning) but there will be a lot of people on the train station (which is Malaysia’s first train station) waiting for their trains.

Sometimes one of our relatives will be waiting for us with a bicycle to carry the bags and us, the kids, back to the house. But most of the time, we had to carry the bags ourselves. The good thing is when we reach the relative’s house (despite the wee hours); they will still be awake, waiting for us. So, it is not a big surprise to see the adults to continue to stay up to chit chat until the sun rises on the horizon whilst we kids are swiftly sent to our beds to have a proper sleep.

The return journey back to KL however is smoother and more comfortable – our relatives will book for us the tickets upfront and usually with better seats (and they get angry when Dad tries to pay them back). For the journey back, we get even more food items packed for us kids and because we travel back during the day, we usually end up sitting by the window, watching the scenery and the happenings on the small towns and villages that we pass by.

It has been years since I took train back to Taiping but it is in my future travel plans especially when my son have not experienced a train ride yet…