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  • Writer's pictureRick

West Malaysia Day 4: New “Old Street” of Batu Pahat

I really wanted to sleep late into the morning, but I was awoken by loud engine sound of a heavy vehicle passing by the hotel before 7am — this was why I preferred windowless room. Got to bear this in mind when making reservations.

Unable to get back to sleep, I got ready to go out, called a Grab (RM5) and off to Han Kee Cake & Cafe (汉记西果店), which was supposed to open at 7:30am on Thursdays. I reached at 8:15am but the cafe was closed. Local Aroma Cafe (道香咖啡馆), just two doors away, was opened and almost fully packed with early risers. I decided to try it.

Local Aroma Cafe (道香咖啡馆)

After finding an empty table, I picked up a menu, and noticed that they served almost similar items as Han Kee Cake & Cafe — I wondered how the two cafes were going to survive if they competed with each other. I shared the table with two locals who joined me and overheard that the two cafes were related father-and-son (I could not verify this information though). I ordered their specialty bread with ham and eggs, a wholemeal bun with peanut and butter and my usual kopi-o kosong.

The cafe was really crowded and I could not linger for too long after finishing my breakfast. I left to explore the area. With another hour to go before the sleepy town was fully awake and shopping malls opened at 10am, I found a MacDonald after walking 1.4Km, went in and killed time with an Americano and an apple pie.

The place that I really wanted to check out was the new Old Street Commercial Centre (老街坊) — some 3Km from Han Kee Cafe. It was a modern, open-concept mall with shops and convenience stores but mostly restaurants and cafes. But, what had it got to do with “old street”? Just a name to attract people?

Old Street Commercial Centre

However, the commercial centre was a ghost town on a weekday afternoon — there were hardly any customers. The centre, and the area around it, seem to be livelier at night or probably on weekends.

There were murals on the walls behind the commercial centre too.

Old Street Commercial Centre: murals

It was a good time for me just to check out the place without crowds. But, I would not stay around until nightfall. I also checked out some new streets near to the Old Street Commercial Centre. I believed this would be the new town centre of Batu Pahat as the architecture was different from the old town near the bus terminal.

Street around Old Street Commercial Centre

Having nothing to do when travelling was a scary thing — I tended to do silly things. Instead of getting a transport to the next destination comfortably and fast, I would usually walk, knowing very well that the sun would be smiling brilliantly around noon.

I walked the 3Km back to the row of shophouses where Han Kee Cake & Cafe was located. My target was a dessert shop a few units from Han Kee, which I spotted in the morning. Along the way, I noticed CausewayLink Bus 8 prying along the same stretches of road that I had walked. It seemed like the service could be used to get from Batu Pahat Bus Terminal to Han Kee Cafe and Old Street Commercial Centre.

The dessert shop was called Tang Sanzang Desserts House (糖三藏经典糖水馆), the “tang”meant sugar or sweet in Chinese, but "糖三藏" had the same pronunciation as the Buddhist monk "唐三藏" in the classic "Journey to the West". It opened around noon.

I went in and asked for recommendations. Then, I ordered Thai basil pork rice (泰式打抛猪肉饭), longan pudding (爆浆珍珠龙眼布丁) and cold water chestnut and sugarcane drink (竹蔗水). It was so hot that I went for cold drink and dessert, instead of their signature classic hot desserts — I would be back some other time.

Tang San Zang Desserts House: Thai Basil pork rice, longan pudding

Oh, they just opened a new branch in Kluang on 1st April. Where would that be?

After finishing the meal, I looked at Google Maps. Looked at the time and distance to reach the hotel. Looked at the sky. Shook my head and decided to walk to the hotel — I was too used to walking. It would take about 30 minutes but probably lesser for me with my walking speed.

I left the dessert shop and started walking. But I did not go all the way. Some 600 metres down the road, I saw a bus stop opposite Pets Mart, crossed the road, waited, and a GTL 3 came along — instead of CWL 8 that I was expecting — and I took it to the bus terminal for just RM1.

Back at the hotel, I rested until 6pm. It had been 5 hours of tiring walk and I was toasted. Anyway, the travel pattern in hot climate regions had always been to go out when it was cooler and stay indoor in the hot afternoon.

For dinner, I went to Kedai Kopi Heng Seng (兴成咖啡店) at a cross junction just 100 metres down the road from Room.V Hotel. The coffee shop was housed in an old pre-war structure that was once a hotel called Cheung Wah Hotel (中华旅店). A sign outside the shop listed all the items it was selling at night. The coffee shop opened early in the morning and at night only.

I had a regular-size char siew noodle (叉烧面) and added on a tau suan dessert (豆爽) later, both costing just RM7. The char siew noodle was surprisingly good and the tau suan was not too sweet. Kluang and Batu Pahat had the correct aptitude about sweetness — at least for me.

Heng Seng Coffee Shop

With most of the shops closed and the streets getting darker, I returned to the hotel before 8pm. A small and non-tourist town, like Batu Pahat, was really just for food, not so much of sight-seeing or entertainment.

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