Thursday, March 31, 2016

Stopping over in Rantau

This is the only zinc-roofed timber-built shop along the main road of Rantau. How long it will be here, I do not know.
Occupied by a fledgling sundry shop business, it will not be long before development erases it to just a memory
 and that is whyI chose to record this in my visual journal.
CONTRARY to what I thought, the name Rantau, a small town not far from Seremban, in Negri Sembilan, did not come from the Malay word rantau (to travel).

Instead, I was told it was derived from the name of a village called Kampung Orang Rantau Panjang Kelang. The village was believed to have been set up by Bugis immigrants who fled the civil unrest in Rantau Panjang in Klang during the mid-1800s and what began as Kampung Orang Rantau Panjang Kelang, had over the years lost its mouthful of a name.

Today, it is known simply as Rantau. The main bustling area in this sleepy hollow is along the main road, Jalan Besar, which is also part of the trunk road linking Seremban, off the expressway, to Linggi and other smaller towns. With a population of 9,000, Rantau was once surrounded by rubber and oil palm plantations but these have made way for housing estates.

I painted this house because it appeared to be the only zinc-roofed timber building that had withstood the ravages of time and development. Known simply as 38 Jalan Besar, it is the premises of Tamilan Store, a small Indian sundry shop. It is two doors away from Sri Bala Thandayuthabani Temple along the main road.

According to a villager who saw me painting from across the street, a huge fire decades ago razed the upper reaches of Rantau town.

“Most of the buildings you see here today are modern ones,”she said. “Most of the shop operators here are Indians and Chinese, but as it’s a small town, many shops are barely surviving.”

This uncle at left was amused that
I chose to paint this small town. 
In the morning until late afternoon, the hawker centre on the main road is a hive of activity, Villagers gather here for a meal and to chat with each other. By evening, there is not much activity. Although the town itself does not have much to offer tourists except a chance to stretch their legs and have a drink, there are several back-to-nature holidays in the Rantau district. They include Rantau Ecopark in Kuala Sawah and Rantau Agro Park in Kampung Seri Lalang.

Anglers may want to check out Kampungstay Haji Sulaiman in Kuala Sawah which offers not only accommodation but also a chance to hook up a whopper at its freshwater lake.
Rantau has produced a few prominent Malaysians such as Maha Sinnathamby, the man behind Greater Springfield, Australia’s largest master-planned development, and the former soccer great, the late Ghani Minhat.

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