[Balik Kampung] A trip back home

Balik Kampung (English: “return to village”) is a Malay term for massive exodus during festive seasons such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. In Indonesia, it is known as Mudik.

I can’t remember when was the last time I visited Malaysia. Strangely, I’ve always felt as though KL was my home just as much as Singapore is. KL is where my mum’s side resides in; my mum was from KL herself. Dad was from Penang, and I love that place and its beautiful beaches. I don’t feel as attached to that place though – probably because I rarely had the chance to go back.

I used to visit KL every school holiday, but this changed when I entered university whereby term breaks were spent studying and my first winter break was spent on a mission trip. Trips back to KL always offered very very good “lepak” weeks. I do nothing when I go back except spending time with the family, eating (a lot), watching astro TV channels (which included loads of HK dramas), and shopping. The shopping bit increased as I grew older and understood the wonders (and misery in other cases) of the exchange rate. One thing that strikes me most about my family in KL is their generosity and love for each other. My aunt always passes me money for me to shop when I get back. As I grew older, I started to bring sufficient cash for myself when I return. I’d reject the money she passes to me but she’d just say “take it, you don’t come back often”.

It’s not just about money. I guess generosity with money is but a mere outward manifestation of their love towards each other. It permeates through even the smallest things they do, like using up their precious paid leaves whenever I return so that they can spend time with me, like driving me out for supper even though they’re so tired after a day’s work, like shopping with me for some 4 hours just to get the perfect pair of shoes I’d wanted for my sec 4 prom. My aunt is someone I really look up to, in terms of the amount of care she has for those around her. She’s someone I hope will live till a ripe old age so that I can in turn, take care of her one day and pamper her the way she pampered me when I was little.

My family just moved to a new place, and the estate’s up a hill so the air’s really fresh and we have a source of ground water from which we can drink directly from (much to my mum’s delight). It was also relatively safe as compared to the previous area so I jogged around the estate on most evenings. We could see the twin towers from our place and the sun set was a delight to gaze at (though none of the pictures I took could really do it justice)

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There were a couple of malay villages along the hill on the way home, as well as two rather famous thai restaurants. This is a picture of the landscaping in one of them. The desserts were really good too (: Speaking about food, I’ve a lot burn off after that trip back to KL hahaha. I had the best wonton mee I’ve ever had, my usual dimsum and hokkien mee (I have to eat this every time I return), dumplings (nothing matches up to this) , indian muslim food, sotong, eel, kaya puffs, and the famous ampang yong tau foo just to name a few.

Another thing that I love about heading back to KL is that there are plenty of dogs to play with. hahaha. A pity I didn’t get to spend much time with the dogs at the factory this trip back (there are three in my uncle’s factory). So here’s introducing the two resident dogs at my cousin’s place.

First one’s beano (they call her nono). She’s probably one of the most timid and silliest dog you’ll ever meet. Her timidity stems from an unfortunate event in the past where she got bitten by another dog. However, once you spend time with her, you’ll understand why we love her so much.

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Second one’s called prince. He’s been around ever since I was 6. One of the sweetest dogs at their place (the third dog called Brain passed away a few years back) and I look forward to taking him on his walks whenever I return. He’s a joy to walk too. Most unfortunately, as much as I love my own dog very very much, mine is a huge pain to walk. Prince’s plagued with a lot of health problems that came with his age. He’s had a heart failure and he has joint problems as well.

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We had breakfast at a coffee shop nearby on one of the mornings. and wow, it served the best kopi-bing I’ve ever tasted. If I could have that kind of kopi-bing in Singapore, I wouldn’t even visit cafes and waste all that money. I’m a great fan of kaya toast; I could eat it for any of my meals anytime. They steam the bread instead of toasting it though; I prefer the latter.

The uncle who collected money was really cute though. He did it the old fashioned way which is actually rather common in malaysia. Don’t know why he’s stopped using an abacus though. Basically how they do it is that you recite your orders to the uncle at the counter and he scribbles stuff before coming up with a total amount for you. Can’t see it in this pic but there’s a huge heap of coins by his side.

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So yes, that’s about how I spent the week chilling in KL. Ate so much food – I’m still trying to eat clean now to make up for it. Knees are busted so I can’t run too much too (Physiotherapy has been working good though). Turning to swimming/gymming while my knees are recovering.

Just last two pictures to end off this post.

You see, my mum and I prefer taking a coach on our trips back to KL because it is very inconvenient for my family to pick us up from the airport. The bus terminals on the other hand, is a lot closer to their place. Everytime we head home from KL, my aunt would pack food for us. She’s been feeding me the same thing over and over again (salted chicken that beats any I’ve tasted in the restaurants and a vegetarian vege/glass noodles/ black fungus mix that I’m terribly addicted to) but I’ve never grown bored of it. She’ll pack it nicely into little bags and label them because I’m a picky eater and I don’t like having too much rice.

It is but a very small gesture but these are the things which really touch my heart and remind me of what family really is. 
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On the topic of family, here’s a picture (heavily filtered cause it was rather blur) we took while having lunch with some of my aunts and my cutiepie cousin (: 
IMG-20140620-WA0008_1As always, I’ve always been terribly grateful to have a group of people in KL I can call family, and a place there here I can call home.

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