I went back to Johor Last week for the school holidays.
This time we went to our parents new place. My father, who is supposed to retire in July, decided to continue working and moved to another Oil Palm estate. This estate is remotely located in between small towns of Paloh and Yong Peng.
You have to exit at Yong Peng and the estate is located right in the middle along small link road between Yong Peng and Paloh. This road was proven tough to manouvere for someone who have been so used to two or three lane wide highways.
My kids were excited as they have always been. For them, it's always fun to be somewhere away from the concrete jungle. My parents estate house was a reasonably big 3 room terrace house located right infront of the estate's main office, where my father works. Unlike in other estate's that he had worked, he walks to office now.
There were few stray but clean looking dogs around, cows at the back of the house, a tractor and also excavator/earth mover parked at both sides of the house. My kids were fascinated with the cows, tractors and the earth mover as these are something that they have seen in the cartoons and also something they own in plastic toy form. To see and sit in the real thing is a big deal for them. We took several photographs of my kids at the wheels of the earth mover and tractor.
For me, as someone who have lived half my lifetime in the estates, these are something that we got used to. I can imagine that the large number of kids born in major cities would have never experienced sitting on a tractor or earth mover.
Neither do they would ever experience catching large butterflies, insects, chasing monitor lizards, stumbling upon King Cobras, having monkeys playing at the back of the house (while stealing bananas), climbing and plucking (now it's us who used to steal) various fruits from trees around the estate, stopping for wild boar and elephants crossing the road, tasting spicy dishes of exotic meats such as pangolin and the blue blooded Horseshoe Crab (belangkas), and many other exciting adventures.
We were there for just one night. While I was bored already few hours after we arrived, my kids were not. They were playing in the compound, shouting at the dogs, naming the cows and begged me to take them for a walk around the estate a few times although I took the same route each time. I can imagine that conciously, they feel free, out of the apartments, out of the concrete jungle, wants to explore the estate world, even if it means walking around the small estate repeatedly.
Living in an estate, later a small town and finally settling down in KL has provided me with various different exposure in terms of lifestyle, people, practises and culture. I believe I am different now compared to those born and bred in KL mainly due to these precious exposure and experience.
I did travel alone to the nearest town, Kangkar Baru. Kangkar Baru is a small cowboy town with only one row of shops. I had a drink in one of the Chinese Restaurant while reading a daily. Then I noticed that I can hardly find people of my age amongst the crowd in the restaurant and those passing by. I guess they have left for bigger towns and cities, like me.
Most of them were seen to be laid back, sitting and chatting in the restaurant. I found the whole environment and movement were slow, people never really looked very worried, neither did they look like they were anxious over the outcome of the LingamGate, or whether Anwar will take over soon. It appears that for them, life is over and they are destined to spend the rest of their lives there. There were worried though over the fuel price increase based on some of the conversations that was going on.
My 1 hour one stop there also made me realise something. We in KL have no idea what the rural folks think, what do they feel about issues and what matters to them most. Like BN, we have simply lost touch with the rest of Malaysia.
While we harp on LingamGate, Anwar, Mahathir, Hindraf, Human Rights and other trivial matters such as whether to wear songkok or not, people in rural areas are more worried about their rice bowl, their family and surroundings. Despite all the worries, they appear to have better peace of mind compared to KLites despite not having all the luxuries as in KL.
I am afraid that when my parents leave the estate one day, my kids would never be able to experince a rural, distinctly different lifestyle which also means that they will lose that exposure that made me and my brothers different from others.