Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

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!


Keanorlinsya said...

Wrong! Hehehe, i still sing with my nieces and nephews on our roadtrips. All the nursery rhymes, songs they were thought at kindergarten, High School Musical's sountracks, Hindi OSTs and of course, songs from AF and Mawi. Masih ada harapan.

malaysianminx said...

kan kak ena? i remember driving down to johor and stopping at the rest places to buy pisang salai and pau *yummy*

and i remember the singing in the car too..but i did more sleeping than singing..the best part would always be when i bangun to find the car already nearing the bridge which crosses over to muar..

now i hafta drive *sigh* tak best cos its just not the same anymore!

thanks for bringing back those memories kak ena



hello, my dear. How has your Raya been?

Oh...that's really cool, still singing on road trips!
Hmmm, Hindi songs, eh? I can imagine.

Well, I'm glad to know some things don't change!

Take care and please kirim salam to your mum and dad!


Ms Minx,

Pisang salai! alamak.... i am right now droooooling just thinking about pisang salai.

i know that my relatives in Kuala Selangor used to serve us poisang salai whenever we drop by for a visit.

Oh...that ferry must be used for crossing the river to Muar...

WEll, my dear.... driving goes together with getting older and getting a licence.
but, hey....i know what you mean.
Take care, Ms Minx and tell me about your trip to he south of france....

Accia said...

salam Kak Ena,
oh this one really brings back some memories! teringat pulak ketika balik Johor dulu, kami pasti berhenti di Aw Pottery. dan bila kami pindah Johor, shopping di woodlands on weekends tu macam memang pasti.apa lagi kalau tak kerana buah lychee dalam tin.

Anonymous said...

hi nuraina,

have been following your blog since forever but only now i am brave enough to leave my footprint.
came in from rocky's bru.
things have certainly changed in this country. the roads are so much better. that's the reason i love driving around the peninsular as there is just so much to see.
i also do sing in the car.
well, singing along my fave artists.

Rockybru said...

mari kita rakyat pasir panjang
sama-sama telanjang

bet you know that version of majulah singapura!

i will be going to singapore early december. my niece in jb is getting married. i have a sister in jurong east and i will be visiting her. in future, of course, she might decide to move to Iskandar ....

night safari. i have never been there. tell us all about it when you come back.

mutalib saifuddin said...

hello mdm ena,

as years has gone by, i think riding on train must be better off than using car for a ride to the Causeway, as traffic jams is now like crazy- to some extend, it would be as long as more than 10kms. horrific, though.

this posting, i think, made me remember about our (last) trip to JB a decade (11years to be exact) ago...i wonder how 'singapore and jb' would look alike today...

Hanafi Mohd Noor said...

Hi, my family travelled the oposite from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur when I was a kid, as my late grandma was living in Pudu. That was years before plus. My father drove his 'ford escort' patiently but we always stop by at relatives who offered us durians.
There were 4 of us at the back...not just singing but quarelling to test our dad's patient.

Anonymous said...

Hello Nuraina,

No wonderlah Singapura so Maju. So many people wishing it from the hearts.

I suppose we all long for those days. The image of starched white uniform students singing in their campfire came to me. I dont hv those happy camper experience, there were borrowed imaginations. However, one of my merry innocent is listening to ABBA songs.

To think there were such happy time with the Vietnam War raging nearby. Phewww...!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Nuraina,
What a pleasant surprise to stumble upon your blog! I don't know if you remember me but I used to be one of your reporters in City Extra! I've been moving around abroad the last couple of years and now settled in London.
You can contact me at angelarao at gmail dot com

Salt N Turmeric said...

the best thing abt the travelling down to jb those years was indeed the stop at simpang renggam. without fail mesti beli those cute potteries, kerepek pisang, pisang salai. ish macam2 lah!

sigh.. now w the highways, we hardly ever detour to simpang renggam.

zaitgha said...

kinda late visit this time as i was in KL yesterday...

hmmmm ....my balik kampung before i got hitched was only on mini buses no 11 from Jalan Aman to Kg Sg Tua Baharu during high school days. Once I got married the kampung is Seremban, can call that kampung meh?....

Mat Salo said...

Kak Ena.. singing Majulah Singapura is OK because Pak Zubir Said (1907-1987), a fellow Mingakabau-an who migrated to SG in the 30's, wrote it in 1959 --BEFORE any notion of the separation between MAL and SG.

I culled the following from Bahizal's blog, and found it historically interesting. Surely Bapak had something to say about this?


"Journalist A.Samad Ismail once said that Pak Zubir and his contemporaries from Minangkabau, awoke a wave of national consciousness in the historical times of the 1950s..."

And here's the shocker:

"Pak Zubir was also asked to compose the national anthem for the newly independent Federated Malay States, which never materialized due to a disagreement between himself and Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first premier..."

So I know why we had to resort to Ciplak-ing...

Faten Rafie said...

i'm glad you've included the night safari in the ittenerary. last i was in there was 13 years ago, and i had a blast! not only the kids would enjoy it, i promise!

there was a point where it even had a 'fantasy island' kinda feeling with the walkways and stuffs :)

and the souviners they have there are really nice too!

p/s: this is assuming they are still keeping their high standard.


accia: kak ena lagi tempat tu. Sekarang dah jadi tourist attraction. ramai betul.

thank u, E, for visiting.

Elana: Hi! Have we met? I remember an Elana I met, like 30 years ago, but cannot remembr where. I know because i remembr telling myself that if i had a daughter, i'd name her Elana. of course, i must have forgotten bcos i did not name my daughter elana.
thanks for visiting. and have u just returned from somewhere. do you have a blog?

mutalib: teringat kisah lama, ya? it is true, train rides are better. but one of the reasons we stopped taking the train was because the last time we did that, we were stranded in Kulai becos of rising flood waters. the passengers were asked to resume the journey by bus to JB, from where we took another train to Singapore. It was like 2am macam tu.
after that,we all serik.
thanks for visiting.

hanafi: when you have kids in the car on long trips, for sure, kecoh.
alamak...durians. best nya.

thanks for dropping by.

moses foo: oh. ABBA. you know, i was never a fan of ABBA, although i did listen to their songs.
i suppose it's human nature to reflect on better days, better times.

zai: oh, tak apa, zai. cepat, lambat, tak apa, asal kita masih connected. i hope lain kali you're in KL, i free-lah.
that TT sounds tempting.
thanks again, Zai, for visiting.

Farina: Ya tak ya, ek, Farina. You Johor-born, kan?
you are right. highways memang lah part of progress. tapi...one of the sacrifices we have to make is that we have to do away with all those nice, cosy spots.
sometimes, the smallbusinesses suffer sebab dah tak ada pengunjung.

thanks for visiting.
How's California? Masih ber-API dan ber-ASAP?
Take care. I hope you are ok.

Angela: Of course, I remember you. how can I not? you left the NST for a better offer from the Star (Metro desk), right?
how are you?
and what are you doing in England?
Hmmm....found your prince charming?
i will email you, angela. take care. are you on facebook?

Mat Salo: wow... really, bro? i will check that out.
and thank you for your "concern" in your text message earlier.
Take care.


rocky: yes yes.... i do know that version.
i think most everybody knows.

you'll be going to singapore earlier than me.
i have never been for the night safari. actually, you know me, i don't like to go to the zoo.
i know some people rave about singapore's night safari. but i was never really interested.
the kids are. so i'm just going along.
i will tell you all about it.

jom, nyanyi ......mari kita rakyat pasir panjang.....

Anonymous said...

hey nuraina

just to remind you i am also a spokesman for "bounce", the scented paper that you put in clothes dryer so that your laundry come out fluffy and smelling nice.

I also wanted to be the spokesman for airasia, but someone beat me to it.

the other day at your dad's place, while browsing through his books, i was suddenly jolted by your father's sudden burst of singing of semalam di malaya. i think rocky and aishah joined in.

it was the third time i heard him sing the song, and whenever i hear it i am reminded of him.

ps/ how's your laundry?

Anonymous said...


The ferry ride you had was in Muo. Muo sits in a major trunk road route between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.

KL-Kajang-Mantin-Seremban-Tampin-Alor Gajah-Malacca-Kesang-Muo-Bakri-Parit Sulong-Yong Peng-Air Itam-Kulai-Senai-Skudai-Johor Bahru.

The Muo bridge was constructed in the late 60s.



come to think of it,,, you are spokesman for so many things...
i say, you should think about changing jobs. No, wait. keep your day job. you can moonlight-lah....as a salesman.

BIGDOG: i know....what an experience those days.,

BaitiBadarudin said...

Majulah Singapura, the sound of music, my favourite things, do a dear etc. was so far away and long ago for me ...

Keanorlinsya said...

Raya was different with one less member. Head over to my blog, u will understand why. Different but okay i guess. Thanks for asking. This year i went to an open house on KD Pahang (NAVY's ship) new experience. Wobbly. hihi.

Izham Miyake said...


i'm 30 years old but i do think that i've experienced exactly the same thing.

Yeah, european cars rules at that time. My father drove a Fiat Supermirafiori 1600 which can be considered one of the fastest car, which were bought at $14,000. BMW was just $18,000 at that time.

My father used to serve in Kelantan and we used to dropped by the Rest House in Kuala Terengganu; which was replaced with the Hotel Primula.

And we do sing in the car, just like in the movie Mukhsin.

I missed all that. Really..


Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum, Kak Nuraina
I happen to stumble upon your blog and it brought me to your TWB series.. I just want to say how much I enjoyed reading it. Well, enjoy is not the apropriate word I guess. Let's just say I really admire your writing :) A valuable piece of history and I learn so many things from it. I do hope publishing it is part of your future plan with TWB.

-an Indonesian in SIngapore :)

Fauziah said...

What a coincidence, my family will be going to Sgp for our hols too. BTW the nite safari is one that u shouldnt miss, It worth it!!.

Where are all 17 of u staying (jez wondering)

Anyway, happy holiday!!