Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Bus Stand

Time was when the bus stand was the key spot in any small towns. It was the place where everyone must alight on reaching the town or come to take a bus home. It used to be the most crowded area in the town beside the market place and some of the bigger shops since supermarkets were not yet in vogue. It was the one place where you come to see people from all over the state and even the country.

For a small boy living in Negeri Sembilan, the two most important bus stands were in Seremban, the state capital, and Kuala Pilah
from where one can go to Bahau and Pahang or Tampin and to the south of the Peninsula. Between Seremban and Kuala Pilah was the infamous Bukit Putus, Crossing the hilly and winding road was a good substitute for riding a roller coaster. If you don't sweat and vomit as a passenger in the backseat of a car or bus with an impesutous driver, you should have no fear in going up the roller coaster. Unless. of course, you're claustrophobic or have a great fear of being "railroaded". Now, fortunately or unfortunately, you have an alternative route through Bukit Putus which allows you to drive in comfort and with the mad rush that you are accustomed to.

The bus stand was where hawkers and stall keepers used to make their fortune. Karipap, wong lai, kacang putih and all sorts of fast food and snacks used to be sold to hungry people who just arrived or about to leave the town, sold both outside and inside the bus. Not now of course. Food and drinks are sold somewhere in the terminal building and you have to go to them instead of they coming to you. The shops and the stalls are away from the where the busses are parked.

Kuala Pilah bus stand used to be my favorite place when I attended school in the town, way back in the 60s. It's located at the
meeting point of four parallel main roads, between which lie the elongated shopping blocks that formed the major business centre of the town. There were some small shops and food stalls around the bus stand which used to be well-packed with people. But the most interesting place was a little tody shop placed at one corner. Even my computer underlined 'tody' in red, denoting that it's a spelling mistake. No it's not except that you must spell it with a double 'd' although in Bahasa it's just 'todi'.! Toddy is a cheap alcoholic drink tapped from coconut trees, then selling at 50 sen per mug. A mug is enough to make an average person croggy. Two mugs can knock a person out.

It was a lot of fun watching the 'toddiholic' rushing up for their mug of the bublies, sitting down, squatting or just standing up under the shade taking a pull at their mug of nectar, talking with their friends, the level of conversation rising higher and higher with every pull of the gooey liquid. And after a while you see some of them dancing or staggering about, enjoying the effect of the spirit. The crowd enjoyed watching them as much as they enjoyed imbibing the booze.

That scene is no more. What you see today as as shown in the pics.

The bas stand is clean and officious from the front. But another change has occurred since you don't see any bus after 5 pm. They are parked elsewhere as the bus stand is taken over by hawkers and food sellers who put up their stalls in every little space available as shown in the second pic.

I wonder what happens to the busses after five. I was made to understand that business goes on as usual but the bus stops elsewhere in the town. Business at the food stalls were brisk. The stall keepers and the District Council must be happy with the money they collect while the public seems happy with the food and drinks they could enjoy. But what happens to the late travelers by bus? Where are they left off and where do they get their transport home?
I'll have to check on that later.


kaykuala said...

Sdr Norzah,
It certainly rekindled a lot of fond memories.I used to accompany my late mother from KL to Pelangai passing thru both S'ban n KP bus stands. We were staying in KL and it was almost routine during the school holidays to balik kampong.

I distinctly remember at the old S'ban station ( presently where The Store is ) the Indian karipap seller gingerly balancing his basket on his head, shouting 'karipaf.. satu kali makan, dua kali mau, karipaf..'You never get close now to the karipap you get then, the texture,the taste, the pedas.Great!

norzah said...

Oooo you make my mouth water with the memory of the taste and aroma of the karipap at the S'ban bus stand, Kk. Really 'satu makan dua mau'. And then there was the wong lai man with his deep and throaty voice hawking around in a sing song fashion: "Wong lai, wong lao oooo.." to be responded to by the kacang putih seller.

Probably you didn't get to see the renovated KP Bus Stand. I could only take 2 shots and my handphnone's battery went dead. In place of the buses as shown by the 2nd pic, you see food stalls.
Imagine what would happen if the new bus stand in S'Ban were to be cleared away to let the hawkers take over in the evening and night.

The Pudu/KL bus stand has moved away to Bukit Jalil I understand. A temporary move, maybe, but imagine the difficulties it can cause to the the frequent bus users. Government's effort to improve the public transportation system and encourage more people to use it, may not work if the bus stands themselves are not made more convenient, cozy and modern.

Al-Manar said...

Your generalised statement is true of the time when a bus stand was second most important spot in a town. I remember that with nostalgia. You are lucky, though having an enlightened District Council. The scene with food stalls and all looks tidy, organised and tempting. I cannot say for the City Council of my place. I wish we were still with the old Town Council of fifty years ago.

norzah said...

It's a pity that you don't have some pictures of the mess in your place which the City Council fails to clear, Pakcik al-Manar. The failure often lies with some Ct Council employees who wouldn't do anything unless there's a little payoff somewhere. Petty corruption often lurks behind every neglect of responsibility or overzealous enforcement of some by-laws to make life difficult for those who wouldn't pay up. We bloggers can help to expose such unhealthy practices. So, get a camera and start snapping around. A hand -phone with a camera and bluetooth facilities will make transferring your shots to this page very easy.

rambomadonna said...

Bus station to me bring back 1 memory and 1 lesson. When I was young, we stayed in Bau, a small town in the 80's a bit like Kuala Kubu Bharu skg (saja ambil contoh feymes).

During weekends, especially lepas dapat gaji, my mum will bring me and my sister Joan, for a bus ride to Kuching and treat us to KFC at Ho Poh. Sometimes at All Joy Cafe or Sugar Bun. So you can imagine how excited we were if our mum got us all dress up as if going to church but suddenly detour to bus station.

There were two main stations in Bau that time, one for Kuching Transport (green bus) and another one is Bau Transport (red bus). I love the Bau Transport station because there were stalls selling snacks and goodies for kids like Dendang and TORA. Looking back, we can be considered as priviledge kids as most of my former classmates had to walk as far as 5 km or woke up as early as 5 am to catch the bus to go school. That was how mundur Bau was in the 80s.

Then when I was in my teens, I stayed in the hostel. My mum didn't dare driving down to Kuching as our car always broke down. So we will normally meet up at Ban Hock Station for a chat and makan. Hostel food was horrible that time and my mum I guess was so scared looking at me so skeletal. My problem that time was, I was really a bad at being punctual and often took my time for an appointment. But my mum never complained. So one day out of curiosity, I asked how long she waited for me. She told me an hour. I said... "Mum, I am just 30 minutes late". So my mum said,"If I have an appointment, I make a point to come half an hour earlier. I don't like people to wait." Goodness, Ban Hock Station is not of the places you wanted to be for an hour for god sake. With fume, heat and crowd.

Since that day, I make sure I came earlier than my mum. And now with HP technology, if I am late I will call or tell her. Even so ... I seldom call her (sigh)!

norzah said...

You seldom call her! As they say now " Tau tak ape", at least you feel guilty about it and always have the intention of taking palliative action. That 1 memory and 1 lesson from the Bau Bus Stand seemed most important to me for it reminds you of the changes that had taken place and stopped the habit of being late for an appointment. (Not for a DATE I'm sure!).

You missed one more lesson, I think. The hostel's food was horrible and you were 'so skeletal'. But now you've to starve to keep your VC shape intact. See, the hostel should remind you of a possibility to
regain the Barbie Doll configuration. Not that I recommend it for you've a heavy job on hand and you need all the strength, hehehe.

Don't we have any song on bus station, bus stop, or something like that? Everyone of us who had been blessed with a car, I think, tend to forget the glory of the bus stand, when the bus was our main form of transportation. For me the bus was also my second bed since it was 15 miles each way, to and from school.

rambomadonna said...

I can't remember any bus station or bus stop songs but I know one feymes song on bus ... "the wheel on the bus goes round and round, round and round, round and round". Hahaha ... bet ur kids or cucu know it too.

About not calling her, I have this habit of not calling if nothing is important. To be honest, when I was in uni, calling home can sometime cost me up to RM 10 per call from Sabah. And I also need to call my dad who was in Penang who is my financier. Money was so little then. RM 20 to me in Sabah means makan untuk 5 hari. Dad gave me RM 200 a month, not more not least. Want more, cari sendiri. Bekas tentera kan ...

So in a way, after 5 yrs, the mother-daughter bond tu mcm loose a bit. Plus I joined Palapes during semester breaks and do not own a handphone. :( I tried to change since bekerja but trouble is I deal with public in my last Ministry and when you listened to so much problems the last thing you want to hear is problem brewing at home ... you know how mothers love to complain and nag. But my mum, she loves to call me and checking on all of us, which I still feel awkward coz dunno wat to say. That's why I blog my feelings coz I know that she is reading.

And one thing about my parents is that they expect me to be independent most of the time. Especially my dad. So after a while, I never ask for their help or their opinion unless I takde jalan lain. In fact my independence nie kacau jugak my chances in hitching with a man sebab i am too use to making my own decision sampai takde ruang nak bagi my partner jadi hero hehehe. Having said that, I did ask someone I am interested in to fix the pipe at home although I knew how to fix it myself ... I have to tahan myself to tell him that he did it wrongly hahahaha

But of course I tak pernah late for any Date ... selalunya my date yang fashionably late. Men nowadays!

Oh yes about my VC shape! Gosh now no matter how hard I starve myself ... I still see an Oprah configuration in the mirror.

norzah said...

Hohohoho, you make me laugh aloud at 1.20 in the morning. Especially about the pipe repair job. No you can't pretend. You've to keep on searching for something that you honestly like in the person that you've singled out for closer ehem...scrutiny. And look at the proper place, of course. Your story about u days reminds me about mine. My parents didn't even know that I went to the u until I was in the final year. Before getting my scholarship payment I often find myself with just 2 or 3 ringgit for a whole semester. I thank God for that experience now. It makes me a humane being, hopefully.

kaykuala said...

Sdr Norzah,
Extended bcc of email to TSG to ur gmail just now. Got it?

norzah said...

Search everywhere but can't find it. Any special place?
Thanx anyway.

kaykuala said...

Sdr Norzah,
Sent extract again 2mins ago to Hopefully ok.

norzah said...

Still cannot find where extract is printed, Kk. The best thing is to "cut" and "paste" it in this block, like the usual comment. Thanx again.

kaykuala said...

Sdr Norzah,
Extract of said email. TSG already got it as Ms Joanne the sec had replied back to me the same day.

"Sent: Wednesday, 28 Apr, 2010 10: 22 AM
Cc: Joanne Yokeeng (

Dear OP TSG,
1. On behalf of all the OP guys, I wish to thank ur goodself for the wonderful anniversary meet n dinner that we had. Your staff had taken very good care of all of us through out the time, ie from the minute we stepped into Westposts and to the the time we left.
2. I had posted the 'reunion' in my blog ( 'birdhouse' ) and Datuk Mohd Nor Ghani (one of our regulars) picked it up. Apparently u had known each other during late Tok Mat's time at RTM in the 80's. Datuk sends his regards. (Datuk's email is '
Thank you
OP Hank
P/S Joanne, thanks for assisting us especially relating to AKBear's near miss.

Sdr Norzah,
Hope it gets thru this time
Hank "

norzah said...

Kk, yes, got it and have read it. Thanks for the mention.