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.