Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Negeri Sembilan : Happy Cycling Broga To Mantin Hakka Village

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Negeri Sembilan : Broga To Mantin Hakka Village (文叮客家村)
Happy Cyclists at Kampung Hakka, Mantin (Photo by Tailim).
Broga to Mantin, Negeri Sembilan : 3rd January 2016
Cycling Distance: 42.52km.     Level: Medium
Time: 8:10am - 1:40pm
Time Taken: Loop 1- approx. 5hrs. 30mins. (including stops for rest, drinks & regrouping, photography, and a long visit to the Hakka Village).

Route Recommendations :
1. Most of the route is on tarred roads passing through rural villages, oil palm & rubber plantations. The roads are in good conditions with not many potholes. Only one stretch near Mantin is on a busy main road. There are not that many slopes; only one tough slope along the Mantin-Lenggeng Highway (National Route N34). Except for stretches along the main road, most of the route is shady. If planning to ride in the afternoon, do apply sun-block and bring adequate water.
2. The scenery is a mixed of rustic kampungs and plantations. Dry leaves at certain stretches through the rubber estates create an "autumn" look.
3. Kampung Hakka (Hakka Village) is a village in Mantin that has been resided by the Hakkas for more than a century with many of the houses still maintained almost as they were back then.
4. Pay a visit to the Broga Temple, although from the car-park it looks small; it unfolds to show more as one climb further up, there's even a giant statue of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King on a hill opposite. This statue is perhaps the largest of the Monkey King in Malaysia.
5. Fairly good food like ice-kacang and Pan Mee can be found at Broga Market. There are a couple of shops selling good roast and barbecued pork.
6. The Hawker Centre (Pusat Penjaja Mantin) in Mantin has stalls selling respectable good food. Do try their Curry Laksa.

Happy cyclist happy to meet up at Broga Temple car-park.
It's been a while since our hApPy Cycling Group had a good group ride. Usually the end of the year is a time when most are busy with tidying things and have not much time to cycle; we had had missed quite a number of our regular Wednesday night rides. So when our Chief Tai Lim (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) sounded the bugle for a group ride on for the first Sunday of 2016; many were eager to come, eager to meet and catch up with each other.

And it was an apt ride to kick off the new year; a ride from Broga to Mantin. Yes, many of us have done the Broga Loop umpteen times, but this time it will be a difference. This time we will drop by to visit the Kampung Hakka, a village that after 120 years of being around is now facing extinction at the hands of "development". I am not sure if any of us will be able to do much to help them; at the least we did get to see the place and get an inkling of how these villagers have lived and hold on to the memories for them.


It's the usual Broga Loop, starting from Broga heading towards Beranang with a long stop in Mantin to visit the Hakka Village and then it's a slightly different return route that entailed climbing a bit of steep slopes. Oh... we did visit an old church too.

7:30 am - Most of us had already gathered at the car-park in front of Broga Temple ready to roll off. But we had to be patient a bit, a couple of friends had got lost on their drive over here. Well, it was a blessing in disguise as it gave us more time to catch up with each other. Most of us had not seen each other for weeks or at most a couple of months. Others, like for Winsin above, it had been for more than a couple of years.... come to think about it, the last time I rode with him was while we did a short cyclo-tour of Japan.
Anyway it was great to see him, and the first question that he popped was; "How are your corn doing?" Sound odd... yes, perhaps to strangers, but Winsin was talking about the Japanese corn he got from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market (.... see Cycling Japan 2013 Day 3). He had brought a couple of ears back and managed to grow some. Some seeds from his first harvest he gave to us compatriot riders in Japan. Sad to say, mine did not grow well.... I just do not have green fingers like his.

Another buddy that we have missed is Chris.... well not for a long as Winsin... just for about half a year (that's long by cycling standards). He's one jolly fellow with a voracious appetite and a .... er unique eating style.... i.e. eat to the last drop! Seeing him eat just works up our own appetite. He had been busy with his new job and we were glad to see him as we did miss his cheerful smiles.... okay... I will be frank... we did miss seeing him eat!

Joining us too were some younger faces - Imagine K, Jared, Daunte and Gurnie. I like their names, very imaginative, nice-sounding ones. I went over to say hello and before I could introduce myself, they said "Hi! Jotaro.".... Oops.... hopefully I had not done anything cheeky or naughty for them to know me by.
It's good to have this younger people joining us ... makes us feel young too!

Flagging off, we rode down the straight rode towards Broga town, made a left turn there. In this early morning, the sun was just coming out, painting the sky a light blue. Further down we mad a right turn.....

... into rural roads running through several kampungs. The roads here are light in traffic but they are so narrow that every once in a while when a car approaches from behind it has to follow us until there was a widening before it could overtake us.

That road led us to and through an oil palm estate. The sun was starting to get warmer but fortunately the palms here were tall, older palms with large fronds that gave us good shade. There are several forks in the roads here and one could get lost cycling here, it's a good thing Sin knows this area well. As a general guideline, stay on the wider of the narrow roads here; these are not much wider but the difference is noticeable.

Unbeknownst to many of us, just after Kampung Daching Hilir we crossed the borders and slipped from Negeri Sembilan into Selangor, to ride along a straight stretch that ran parallel to mighty electrical transmission towers. The road here was slightly undulating with gentle slopes.

At Kampung Sungai Gunung Jai we made a left and crossed back into Negeri Sembilan. Here a large signboard proclaimed this! Well... that was a quick ride in Selangor!

About five kilometeres ahead we hit an odd stretch. It looked like a quiet road, in fact it was a very quiet road without much traffic. But it was really a four-lane main road that runs through Taman Desa Pinggiran Bayu. We were riding on two lanes, the other two lanes heading the opposite direction were hidden by tall reed grass; also to the left were housing estates that were often hidden by the trees.

Somewhere along this stretch we made a stop to regroup at a road-side coffee-shed; it's a good place to stop for a drink and some nice nasi lemak. It looks like this will be a regular riding stop for us when we ride here as previously we had also done so on several occasions.

9:25am - We reach Mantin town, even on a Sunday morning it was a busy place.

And we are into Kampung Hakka; it's entrance is about half a kilometre from Mantin town, slightly opposite the St. Aloysius Church.
Kampung Hakka is a community of Hakkas that have resided in this village for around one hundred and twenty years. Except for upgrading to some modern amenities, their houses looked externally and internally like how they were ages ago. Going in there was like stepping into a time tunnel.
(Read more of the Hakka Village on Malay Mail Online)

Even as we rode in, we noticed that many of the houses had been abandon and were in a dilapidated condition. See, the land on which these houses stand are on public land and the local municipal council have sold the land to a private developer who have given notice to the residents to vacate. Many have fought on to stay on the land which their ancestors had opened up more than a century ago. But many have given up the fight and accepted the compensation and had left, hence the number of vacated houses left to rot.

Many of the houses have red plaques over their doorways. These indicates the village in China from which they had originated.

Those still residing here try their best to live as normally as possible, like this man here still rearing Mynah bird as a hobby.

The older ones are the hardest hit, some have no where to relocate to, complaining that the RM12,000 compensation can hardly buy any replacement property. But more importantly, it is a community life-style that they have to give up; friends and neighbours all will be far away. Their community will, or have already disintegrated.

Many of the houses vacated are slowly rotting away, their roofs damaged and the inside in disarray.

Inside on of the houses was a concrete stove, one that uses firewood. It brought memories of my late grandmother - she had one just like this in her attap house. Hers was red and she did a lot of Nyonya cooking on it.

As it is, a large portion of the land at the rear have been cleared of houses and levelled off. Where there had been an active community, now is only a barren tract of laterite soil.

One of the houses has been converted to a community centre to try to preserve the village.

Inside, tacked onto a wall, was a sketch plan of the village with the houses numbered. Below this were photos of the respective houses before they were abandoned.

All around this centre were artefacts of the present and former residents - old bicyles, rattan trays and baskets, an old dressing table and many, many old photos, etc.
It's a pity that Kampung Hakka is heading a direction towards oblivion. In other countries, they take pride in their cultural history, especially of places that have maintained their heritage uniqueness till the present day. An example is Hallstat in Austria, that old salt mining town was preserved even-though the mines are no more in production. Today it is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a thriving community that attracts thousands of tourists eager to catch a glimpse of their cultural past. (..... see Hallstat blog).

We left the village with heavy hearts and deep thoughts, and went over to visit the St. Aloysius Church. More than a century old, this church is almost as old as the village.

It is still and active church, with local Catholics coming here regularly to attend services and community activities.

It's almost noon, appetites worked up by our ride here and stomachs growling we headed for the Pusat Penjaja Mantin (Mantin Hawker Centre) to have brunch.

Most of us had curry noodles that were served with Yong Tau Foo. This place also serve ambla juice with salted dried prune, a very refreshing drink, one that will be all the more helpful to us as we were facing a hot ride back.

Stomachs happy, Sin took us on the main road heading back to the church. Slightly after the church we made a left turn and rode off-road through several cemeteries. Instead of the usual route, Sin was trying to take us through a different route back to Mantin, hoping that this stretch would lead us through shady roads. He called this Plan B... but plan B did not pan out as it took us back to the same main road, only little bit further up.

So it was Plan C then.... this was a nice, challenging route with some steep slopes; unfortunately the hot weather had taken its toll on some of our compatriots. Spent by the heat, they came down to push.

After climbing that steep slope, we went wooshing down the other side, passed Lenggeng town and then rode into the estate roads again, this time it was through a shady rubber plantation.

1:40pm - We reached back to the Broga Temple, packed our bikes and most of us headed to the town market to have a light lunch and some ice kacang.

(For more photos of the day Click Here)

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