Quirks of living in Klang

  • Focus
  • Saturday, 22 Aug 2015

SM Convent School on Jalan Tengku Kelana is considered to be one of the town’s many interesting landmarks.

AS SOMEONE who was born and bred in Klang, I often take for granted the many treasures it holds.

I usually cannot even name a few spots at the top of my head whenever friends come over to visit from another place, because my favourites just seem old and ordinary to me.

My city friends would often ask if they needed a passport to cross the border to Klang because they have not heard of this place.

Some would even joke about whether the currency was different here because driving to the town seemed to take forever.

Jokes aside, sometimes I think they make sense because almost all the Chinese from Klang have their own Hokkien dialect.

We have our own speciality dish – bak kut teh – and according to my friends from outside of Klang, the food is cheaper here.

Pre-war shops sandwich Jalan Tengku Kelana on either side.
Pre-war shops sandwich Jalan Tengku Kelana on either side.

Also, I realised that the dishes I ate while growing up sounded foreign to them, like the mantis shrimp (heh kor bak) or the tapioca starch noodles (zee hoon ken).

These dishes can be found at most of the Chinese restaurants and some of the more adventurous ones will have a variety of flavours for the mantis shrimp – fried with either salted egg, oats, dried chilli or even black sweet sauce.

Apart from that, there is also a restaurant selling fried porridge, which is always packed to the brim.

My friends would ask me, “How does one fry porridge?” and they would quickly dismiss the question by saying, “It’s a Klang thing”.

Apparently, Klang people do the weirdest things and that’s how the theory of being another country came about.

An example old trades still striving at the pre-war shop houses at Jalan Taiping Klang
Many old trades still thrive at the prewar shophouses in Jalan Taiping, Klang.

For example, there is a bak kut teh shop which only opens at 2am every day and there is a poorly lit stall selling only fried chicken.

Other popular street stalls also have their own made-up names, which usually comprises the owner’s name plus the food they sell.

But one thing I’ve learnt growing up is that Klang people can get pretty territorial when it comes to food.

Being a close-knit town, everywhere my family goes, we are bound to meet a friend or two.

What I find special about this place is that most local eateries I’ve visited growing up are run by friends of my parents or grandparents.

It is rare that we will visit other eateries as I find myself always going back to the same ones filled with familiar faces.

So if you were to ask someone from Klang where the hidden gems are in terms of places to eat, they will usually just tell you about familiar places they always go to near their home.

Speaking of home, behind my house is a park complete with a hiking trail.

Stalls by the roadside which has been operating there for decades, and still run by the original owners. Now they might be demolished and moved to a new hawker place.
Stalls by the roadside which have been operating for decades, and still run by the original owners. may be
moved to a new hawker centre.

Before it became a park, it used to be just a jogging path to the water reservoir used by residents nearby every morning and evening.

My parents enjoy taking their walks there every day and now the path has grown into a park called Taman Rakyat, which comes complete with exercise equipment and a playground.

Every morning during the weekend, this place will be packed with many different groups of people doing yoga, tai chi, line dancing and aerobics.

For a more quiet walk, I would usually use the hiking path and climb to the top of the hill for a nice view of Klang.

At the park is also a little lake, which now also houses my two turtles that outgrew the aquarium at home.

Despite development rapidly taking over the older buildings, there is still one or two parts of town that is well preserved and where old businesses still thrive.

One is the oldest area in Klang, Jalan Taiping, and the other is around Little India at Jalan Tengku Kelana.

At Jalan Taiping especially, old tailor and textile shops from decades ago are still in operation.

Nearby, there are also businesses operating from old wooden houses, like the elderly aunty who sells home-made popiah skin.

These dying trades can only be found in older townships and as Klang continues to develop, these pre-war buildings and businesses with a rich history will slowly die.

For example, my old primary school, which used to flood every time it rains, has been demolished and replaced with a restaurant where weddings are held.

Likewise the Klang kindergarten, which used to be a town landmark, has also been demolished.

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