sungai petani, my hometown*
Last month I went back to my hometown for a couple of days. So I thought it would be good to introduce this town which I grew up in – Sungai Petani
or S.P, as what people of the northern region would simply refer to it as.
Nowadays, one can hardly call it a small town anymore as it has boomed from a sleepy one-main-road town (which you would've most probably missed if you had blinked long enough when you passed through the town like 20 years ago! Ha.) to a booming industrial town – it has 2 main industrial areas, the old one being at the south and the newer on the north.
Contrary to what was written in Wikipedia, I believed the town got its name from the river which runs through the town, which is also called Sungai Petani (or in translation simply means Farmer’s River; Sungai = River and Petani = Farmer)
It was also by that river, where I hung out mostly at the riverfront eatery place after school, which was famous for its 30 sen ais-kacang, dry noodles (in Hokkien it’s called ‘Tha Mee’; translation Tha = Dry and Mee = noodles)
, beef ball noodles, rojak buah and my favourite drink Thor-Tau Kar (ice-blended peanuts)
with generous Milo powder topping.
I once lied to a penpal from Lisbon saying that the riverfront was somewhat like Venice, which was pure BS. At that point, I had nothing much to say about this town, which was as boring as seeing Mawi’s face. And maybe much more. Honestly, I could not wait to leave the place when I was young. The town was so small, I felt claustrophobic and trapped, like I have no personal space to breathe. And as much as I don’t necessarily fancy KL either, I now own the freedom I craved so much.
Anyway, one of the two main architectures which I loved most in SP is the main landmark of the town - the clock tower. It was given by a Tawkey Lim Lean Teng to commemorate the reign of King George V from 1910 – 1936. It’s very colonial and super unique. I don’t think there’s any town in Malaysia that has such a nice looking clock tower. I did however see a similar shaped clock tower in India though. And yet it fall victim to hooligans, as the picture showed. Sigh.
And while we are at the subject of clock tower, I’d like to show you the infamous corrupted new clock towers located sporadically about town. About 10 of them. What ugly pieces of shit. And mind you, each of these towers cost a whopping RM39K of good taxpayers’ money. Obviously some arses got rich on this silly project and thus, it was no surprise when ACA decided to dig deep into the matter a couple of years ago. But as usual, in our Bolehland, the following-up on the matter was unheard of, ever again.
Anyway, the second piece of unique architecture is the glorious HSBC building, which also bears similarities to KL’s old railway station. Again, it’s very colonial looking and I love it to bits. And both landmarks are situated within 100m radius from one another, on the main road of Jalan Ibrahim.
Besides that, there are 2 places in SP that I will not miss whenever I’m there, considering I only go back on the average of once a year. One is the famous Indian mixture shop called Thulasiraman. The mixture here is so freaking good. So good that my girlfriend’s husband from India also loves them to bits; and that honestly, speaks volume on how yummy it is. You can also get them in Giant hypermarkets in KL.
Next stop will prove to you that I am a weird loyalist. I only have one dentist and he is Dr Yong. No matter how short my trip is, I will never fail to make that dreaded yearly visit, mainly to check on the condition of my teeth and to do scaling which only costs RM45 (approx USD13). Here’s the weirder bit – I always see him right after lunch, and I won’t floss or brush my teeth prior, which I would normally try to do after every meal. And without fail, he would sigh aloud and go through the drill on the importance of flossing and gargling with mouthwash. Little does he know that I used to handle the brand Listerine in my past agency, and I even know the key formulation of the mouthwash and what it does etcetera blah blah. Ha.
Another thing you need to also know is that I only consume the Camel brand light soy sauce, available only in SP. It was my mum’s choice of soy sauce, and hereditarily, it became mine too. I also buy my supply of dried prawns, anchovies and belacan from here too. Weird but true. Chuckle.
Also the picture on the right is of McDota – the first fried chicken / fast food outlet in SP. It was there way before KFC and McDonald’s. Though the fried chicken is just so-so, it is still in business after all these years! My hat’s off to the owner! Super!
KFC opened its first outlet in SP in 1987. At that time, eating is KFC is like the best fine dining in town. You should see those SPM school leavers who worked here while waiting for their results – the sense of pride was commendable, like they were working in 10 Downing Street or something. Some were even arrogant about it, like they have ‘arrived’. Ha.
After such a long hiatus, I decided to visit the Sri Sithi Vinayagar temple at Jalan Hospital, which I used to go to during Thaipusam. Thaipusam is quite a big event in SP, and against my mum’s naggings, I used to witness the piercing of the flesh. There’s my favourite, where we referred to as ‘Superman’ where the guy was hung horizontally by at least 40 – 50 piercing to his back. I would secretly, in spirit, danced to the “vail vail” hollers and to the beats of the drums.
And I would end with my two favourite stalls in SP. One is the chicken rice stall at the corner restaurant in Jalan Dewa. I was too busy feeding my face that I forgot to snap any photo, but it’s not as though you don’t know what chicken rice looks like either, eh? This has got to be my favourite chicken rice in the whole wide world, and the secret lies in the chilly sauce, which consists of the potent cili padi and loads of garlic blended into a perfect sauce. I drool even while writing this.
Lastly, the one dish I delight in is the Pasembur or what the KLites will call ‘Rojak’. Mine is a special order of just the toppings, with extra dried squid and prawn fritters. If I am greedy, I will order the Mee Rebus too, which also score a full 10 points in drool scale. The stall is always full of people, any time of the day. The owner is actually from India and has passed down the business to his sons. He goes back to India every year to attend to his many wives. That’s why I believed food business is the best. Guaranteed cash flow!
That’s my simple tour of Sungai Petani. Hope you’ve enjoyed this short tour.
P/S Of late, I have been experimenting with the Photoshop CS2. I had a short tutorial by a graphic design lecturer friend, Emelia. I finally got the software with my new laptop, and it’s like my new toy. Smug.
April 29, 2007 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 10:50 am