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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

My Seremban: Part One

Since I'm in a nostalgic mood today this month, (plus I have all the time in the world) I thought why not show the parts of Seremban that is rarely seen. The following are not tourist attractions or destinations of any kind. (I didn't know if Seremban even had a tourist spot) These are just places that have been around in Seremban ever since I was a kid with a running nose. They are what you might call 'landmarks'. To make it more presentable, I split it into two parts. That way I can bore you not once, but twice.
When I think of Seremban, these places come to mind. But when I went around town doing this on a lazy, hazy afternoon, I noticed that things don't really last in Seremban. Almost all of the places I remembered going to as a kid have either closed shop or they moved to God-knows-where. I guess that's the sad part because I remember Seremban for its Rojak Kassim (closed shop) and the killer cendol near the old Hilton. (now called the Royal Adelphi) I don't know what happened to them. But for what I do remember and still remains, this is my Seremban:

This is just plain weird. But it's still a landmark for those who were around in the 80's and early 90's. Called Hotel Tong Fong, it was rumoured to be Seremban's most notorious prostitution nest. (I dunno if it's true) As a kid, prostitution was an interesting concept. It fueled imaginations beyond your wildest dreams. Many a times, jokes would go around on what goes on here and how if you were in a slanging match, you would that say you saw some kid's father frequent the place. This place was the butt of all dirty jokes back then. Looks decent nowadays.

Long before Terminal One and Seremban Parade, there was only one place to go for the best shops in Seremban. That place was Wisma Punca Emas. Actually Punca Emas wasn't really family-oriented, it was geared more towards the young and dangerous. Snooker centres, video game arcades, VCR shops and the best record store in Seremban can be found here. This was also the place I got mugged for the first time in my life, by some dumb secondary school students when I was only a small Standard Five kid. This was also the place you practiced all those aching, killer Street Fighter joystick moves. All in the name of glory. Also housed here was the iconic Kodai Sopan (refer below)

So you might wonder, Seremban Parade? What's so nostalgic about that? Actually, I'm showing you Seremban Parade because of what used to lie here. Before the days of Paroi, the only stadium in Seremban used to be here. Called the Seremban Municipal Stadium (Stadium MPS), it was the ground that became home to the Negeri Sembilan football team, in the days of Semi-Pro and amateur leagues. My fondest memory of this place was seeing the NS team win the 1991 Division Two League, pipping Sarawak by a single point. It was like a Hollywood movie. I could tell you the story over and over again. It was the final match of the season. And of all teams, NS played host to Sarawak, who was in 2nd position at the time. NS lead the table by 1 point, which meant that a draw was good enough to clinch the championship. Sarawak, had to win of course. After leading 2-1 courtesy of a John Hunter goal, Sarawak seemed to be headed for victory. Until the dying minutes, when NS was awarded a penalty! Up came Marian Valach (betul ke ejaan ni?) who saw his spotkick saved, only for the rebound to fall to his feet. This time he made no mistake and NS drew level at 2-2 and went on to win the Division Two title! It was certainly one of the high points in my life as a NS fan. Superb stuff.

This is certainly one of the flagship stores of Seremban. Simply called Kodai Sopan, this was one of the pioneer stores selling your not-so-usual departmental store stuff. Ask any jeans koyak wearing, spike-haired, Chuck Taylor clad kid and they're bound to know this store. When I was small, I was close to my elder cousins who exposed me to big hair bands of the 80's. The likes of Van Halen, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Helloween and also Iron Maiden. So when they went looking for gear, they went to Kodai Sopan, which had a good collection of t-shirts with hantu and other rock merchandise. I remembered buying a t-shirt with the words 'Yuck Fou' screaming across the front. I got to wear it only once before my dad got the message and gave me an earful. After that, the shirt got relegated to be a kain lap. Nowadays, Kodai Sopan is situated in Terminal One, where it still sells the same kinda stuff but now more into skate gear. I don't blame them. You have to go with the flow. What I remember most is the shop's motto, written on its plastic bag: Sopan gayo pejuang. It doesn't get better than that...hehe.

I guess A&W was the first fast-food chain to hit our shores. Just like the one near Amcorp Mall, Seremban's A&W has been around ever since I could remember. Situated nicely overlooking the Lake Gardens, this place was just a kid's dream. So as a kid, I would remember looking forward to trips to A&W for its signature float and killer waffles. Though I didn't go to school in Seremban, I noticed that it was a favourite hangout for KGV students situated nearby. Also a favourite tenet spot, but what do I know?

Well, this particular barber shop has been around only when I was in secondary school. But ever since then, this is my favourite barber shop when I'm in Seremban. The name is Kedai Gunting Rambut Youngsters and it's situated in KM Plaza. They've moved around since it opened, but all within the same building. (You don't have that much options in Seremban) The barbers are quite okay, not your usual mamak old-timer. I have this favourite barber who I like his craftmanship, but it depends on luck if he's around. I also love the fact that they still charge me 8 bucks despite me working and all. (Standard haircut is 10) I love bargains. It just makes my day. So the next time you see me with a bad haircut, you know who to blame. :)

That's all for Part One. Bear with me for the second part. And I think the MB or maybe MPS should reward me for all this promotion. When in Seremban, baby. When in Seremban...

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