Friday, 16 January 2015

Overnight trip to Seremban

This week has been pretty busy and interesting. On Sunday, my wife and I took a long, leisurely drive down to Seremban and after an overnight there, we drove to Malacca for a two-night's stay. From Malacca, we proceeded back to Penang but not before breaking our journey in Kuala Lumpur for one night. All in, we were away from home for five days.

Why Seremban, people may ask. Well, why not? I haven't been back to Seremban since the mid-1990s when I was in the Seremban outskirts of Ampangan to set up an automated teller machine at the Ban Hin Lee Bank branch there. I don't know what has become of the branch, much less to know the fate of that ATM.  Didn't bother to find out.

Anyway, while in Seremban, we had a most interesting time meeting up with a few people. The Sivanesan family heard we would be in town and invited us to their home. And that's how we were introduced to their two talented children, Subramanian and Nithyalakshmi.

Both Subra and Nithya had been playing in the national junior chess championship in Kota Kinabalu last December and had returned home as the respective champions in the boys' and girls' events. It is quite unprecedented in Malaysian chess that a brother and sister had won the individual national junior championships in the same year and at the same time. I was pretty impressed when they trotted out the gleaming trophies and placed them before me.

Subra is 17 years old this year, going to Form Five, and his sister is younger than him by two years. The boy started playing chess 10 years ago and his sister began playing soon afterwards.

Later, we went to the Seremban2 city park, developed by IJMLand, and walked around its man-made lake.

Lots of people there on a Sunday late afternoon: a bunch of them were exercising but mostly, people were either strolling everywhere or watching other people watching them.

We crossed the bridge and looked down into the water. Was surprised that hundreds of hungry carp and catfish - a few measuring maybe four feet long - waiting for people to feed them. And when they threw bread into the water, the fish swarmed round to gobble down the food.

The next morning, my wife and I visited the Then Sze Koon temple on Centipede Hill in the Temiang area of the old Seremban town.

Possibly, a huge centipede had taken up residence in the hill a long time ago and that's how this creature lent its name to the place. Anyhow, we didn't see any live centipede there.

We spent quite some time there exploring the temple grounds and basically gawking at the life-sized statues of Chinese mythology figures.

After a hearty breakfast at the old Seremban market, we visited the IJMLand office in Seremban2 to meet with a few folks. They have a CSR project under development right now but I'm in no position to say anything else at the present moment. But trust me, this project is chess-related (ahha, now you know why I was in Seremban!) and it's going to be interesting.

The meeting over, we drove to their hill park for a breath-taking 360-degree view of the whole Seremban2 development. If you are unfit, it may take a little bit of effort to climb up to the highest point in the park but it would be quite worthwhile to look down below on the resident houses that dotted the foothills. The houses here were all beautifully designed and pretty impressive. Needless to say, so were their selling prices as IJMLand had targeted the development here for the high-end market.

I should also add that the hill park complemented the city park. One was on flatland with a picturesque lake as its central feature, the other was on a hill with an excellent good view of the whole Seremban2 township. Just climb on any of the six small pavillions there and you can see miles and miles of rolling country.

The hill park has no lake but it had something else: a realistic enough dinosaur park as an attraction. Small but educational, and it brought out the kid in me. When I was very much younger, dinosaurs had interested me a lot and I do remember visiting libraries to pour over their reference books on these long extinct creatures. I should also add that when Jurassic Park came out, I had made a beeline to watch the film in the local cinema.

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