What’s in the peaceful town Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor? Our interns took a trip to find out.
During my two-month internship at LokaLocal, I was assigned to go to different places, to join in experiences and video shooting trips. I enjoyed them so much that I was not aware that time has gone by so fast. I was sent to the sleepy town of Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB in short form) at Hulu Selangor.
Hills to the Left, Hills to the Right
Together with my intern-colleague, Yin Wei, we travelled from Sungai Buloh before dawn. I was not expecting much as I had never been to KKB before. Honestly speaking, I literally had no idea what there was in KKB.
The journey to KKB took us about an hour. From the sight of fast-moving cars on highways to narrow-paved roads with no one but us, the goosebumps started to hit me. I’m always excited when it comes to travelling away from the traffic jams and skyscrapers. The greenery and peaceful views remind me of my hometown in Sabah.
Upon arriving, we had a quick breakfast of Kuih Putu Piring and Coffee from a nearby stall before meeting Sue Suen. Our warm and welcoming local expert shared that local people also refers to KKB as Kiri Kanan Bukit (in Malay, it means hills on your left and right side) to truly describe the view upon arriving the town.
Our first stop with her was the natural hot spring of KKB. The route to the hot spring was quite tricky as we had to go through even narrower roads and pass by residential areas. What a hidden and mysterious place!
The hot spring teased with our excitement and eventually was a good start for us after being in the car for a while. Taking off my shoes and submerging my feet in the warm water, I felt invigorated. According to Sue, the hot spring was once only a small pond but the authorities had improved it, building a hot spring pool for the public to enjoy it. Not only is the hot spring therapeutic, it is a gathering spot for people from KKB.
Romantic Stargazing Spot
Sue then drove us to the Second Bridge (a direct translation of the Chinese Word – 第二条桥), which is a hot spot for people to hang out at night for stargazing. The view of stars during the night is said to be extremely beautiful here.
Although we were not there to stargaze, the panorama of the Selangor River Dam from the bridge did not fail to take my breath away. The blue skies and green foliage of the forest captivated me, and I felt stress-free. I could hear the birds chirping close by. No wonder visitors heading to Fraser Hill like to stop by at Kuala Kubu Bharu!
Down Memory Lane
“Does everyone know everyone here?” I asked half-jokingly, but Sue answered a firm yes. She told us that for decades, the people worked together to rebuild the town. Sue brought up the stories behind Kuala Kubu Bharu, when the Sungai Selangor dam broke on 1883 and caused a massive flood. The second time it broke in 1926, it wiped out the whole town except for Guan Yin Gu Si Temple and Al-Hidayah Mosque.
After the flood happened, the British moved the town to a higher place and started the reconstruction. The town was then named Kuala Kubu Bharu, meaning New Kuala Kubu in English. Rome was not built in a day; the same goes for KKB. Though the flood phase had past, the process of fixing old buildings is still ongoing including repairing the 70-year-old fire station. The fire station looks stable on the outside yet it is no longer safe to serve its purpose. Sue told us that the fixing will soon turn it to be a tourism center.
The heat from the sun did not stop our excitement to discover more of the town. We walked pass the heritage sites while Sue explained to us about them. From the way she described the town, I could tell how much she loved it. I found myself impressed by small details, from the old-school patterned mosaics paved in front of old store to the Chinese characters plastered on the discoloured walls.
Sue told us that shop owners of the past purposely designed different arches for every front elevation of the buildings. Various plasterwork ornaments were being used on each arch which they believed could welcome good fortune. Most buildings in the town are old-style and double-storied yet there were some new ones with an extra floor, built using the same style. The locals wanted to preserve the uniqueness of its architecture.
At one site, Sue pointed on a building on top of a hill, which I was quite sure must be a police station from the colour alone. However, the outer design was different from what a normal police station would be. The wooden windows with the round arches signified a foreign style. It has a tall attic ventilation which assured me that the building once played a different role in the past. Eventually, she revealed that it is a police station but was previously a place for worship, a church during the British Colonization.
On each block, beautiful mural paintings can be seen on the wall. The townsfolk have beautified the town by painting murals on the walls of old buildings. They record on the memories of Kuala Kubu Bharu in the past, depicting activities in the past including tin mining and rubber tapping.
Next, we went to a site where the first building in town was built. I am not sure how many times they have repainted the buildings, but they seemed to hold a lot of stories. It felt strange to see a building that has been there since 1930. I had mixed feelings. People come and go but the stories and landmarks will never leave the place. I wondered, what if no one cares about this historical town? To me, Sue is a responsible person and is doing a wonderful job!
After a wonderful walk around the town, we stopped by Ilmio Cafe. The cafe fascinated me with its antique decorations, with old Chinese albums hanging on the wall, a vintage gramophone at one corner, along with a collection of unique ceramics, antique clocks and oil lamps.
Across the street, there is a bakery shop where everyone who stop by at KKB would not miss. The shop sells many types of buns including the sweet, crispy Kaya Puff. I did not know that the town is famous for Kaya Puff until I noticed the cute Kaya Puff murals during our walk. I bought myself a box and shared it with my friends later on that night.
We left KKB in the evening. Deep in my heart, I felt grateful for the opportunity to visit KKB. The whole day took me from knowing nothing about KKB to really appreciating its beauty. It was really a relaxing day yet with full of surprises. For me, KKB is one of a kind town that I would like to revisit again one day. Perhaps you’d like to visit it next?