Balik Kampung - November 6 2007
It's that time of the year again when my siblings and I plan for our annual trip down south to the land of our birth.
However this "tanah tumpah darah" applies to all of us except Kamal, Lalin and Nina who were born in Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya.
This time, however, we will not be in "kampung" for Eid during Syawal because most of our kids are still having their year-end exams.
My son, Adel will be sitting for his SPM soon (some time this month).
So, the consensus was that we'll "turun" Singapore next month (December).
We used to drive down in a convoy of three to four cars. Then, we decided to have the rail/train experience -- we would book three to four KTM Senandong Malam first class coaches.
The kids loved it.
What we did not like was the stop at the first Singapore check point where we had to take out all our luggage and after that, get back into the train.
It's as though we were running away from something towards something else. Like herds of cattle.
That was always the downside.
In 2005, we discovered Aeroline.
Actually, my (former NST colleague) friend Zainul Arifin told me about it and encouraged me to try out the bus trip.
Now, I'm suspicious. Was he moonlighting for Aeroline because he sure did a brilliant job of selling the "bus experience down south" to me. I was sold.
He told me about the "airplane feel" in Aeroline.
(And folks...no no no. I am NOT moonlighting for Aeroline!)
On Aeroline, we stop at the second causeway but it is not as chaotic as getting off the train at the first causeway.
So, yesterday, Nina and I finalised the travelling group for our Aeroline trip.
There will be 17 of us -- 10 adults and 7 children.
We have included night safari in our itinerary. The kids are so looking forward to this.
I remember our annual road trips to Singapore when I was a kid.
It would be a long car journey along the trunk road that passed by padi fields and many kampungs.
I particularly loved the kampung houses in Malacca.
I remember Bapak taking us in his Opel for these trips. In those days, European cars ruled.
There were no rest areas such as the Plus stops.
I wonder, do people stop by resthouses these days?
I think the old world charm of resthouses was something I can never forget. I still go wistful when I think of the those brief visits to these places.
We all used to really look forward to these stop-overs, usually around lunch-time.
Oh....for an experience of the sirloin steak (resthouse-style) and the mee hailam!
The drive down to Singapore was a real long journey. We would stop somewhere in Johor for the ferry ride across a river -- cars and all.
(I am looking for a photograph of Mak carrying me as we stood on the ferry.)
Now, if you ask me to go on that ferry today, I think I would unhesistantly refuse.
Those days, it was one of the highlights of our trips.
One thing we did which I can never forget was that we would be singing songs -- nursery rhymes, old Malay songs as well as Malay and English pop songs. Oh...all sorts of songs we could think of.
We would start with zest and enthusiasm and would end with all of us dozing off.
And Bapak's contribution to this animated sing-along session in the car was his rendition of "Bangawan Solo".
Oh...I love this song. As much as I do "Semalam di Malaya".
But one song we would sing -- full of life and energy -- "Maju lah Singapura".
Yeah... can you believe that?
"Maju lah Singapura"!
Aaah.....those were the days when kids sang on road trips.
These days, they have the I-Pod, thank you very much!