Saturday, March 08, 2008

Segamat - My Hometown

Segamat my beloved hometown lies in the northern part of Johor state in Malaysia. In the 50s and early 60s when I was growing up Segamat was a very small and quiet town. We had no more than fifteen streets in town with a few more in the surrounding areas. We had no traffic lights, not that we needed any as there were very few vehicles in town. In the middle of all the town streets we had trees, flame-of-the-forest, I recall. Our town was so small that one could walk from one side of town to the opposite side in no more than 10 minutes and one can tour the whole town in an hour. On both sides of the street we had two-storey shop houses, the ground floors used as shops and the upper floor as residences. I was born in one of these shop houses and it was here I spent the first seventeen years of my life.

To an outsider Segamat would appear to be just another typical sleepy Malaysian town. Years ago Segamat was a very prominent town in Johor, the centre of activity for all the villages around the region. Being on the trunk road and midway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Segamat enjoyed a booming economy brought about by the through traffic between the two cities. Travelers by road had to pass through Segamat bringing business to hotels and restaurants. When the North-South Highway was built it was decided that it would not pass anywhere near Segamat but nearer to the west coast. I guess it must be the hilly terrain in and around Segamat that sealed the fate of Segamat. The construction of the North-South Highway was beginning of the end for Segamat. While towns along the North-South Highway flourish and prosper, Segamat stood still and suffered growth stagnation. As far as I am concerned, selfishly I must admit, this has been a blessing in disguise. I would have been very disappointed if my beloved little hometown had flourished into a big town or even into a city. I rather like Segamat to remain a small sleepy town with a laid back atmosphere.

These days I try to visit Segamat as often as I possibly can. The old parts of town have remained virtually the same as I remember it from my childhood days. The shop houses are still there each with the same worn steps that I have trodden on so many years ago. The trees in the middle of the roads have all disappeared. There are some shops that have maintained the same businesses all through the years, most likely under third generation management from the same family. The streets, the hawker stalls, the coffee shops, the wet market are still the same. Walking through town never fails to bring back fond memories of days when we were young and carefree.

Segamat will always have a special place in my heart. It is the place where I was born, where I went to school and where all my childhood memories are. I have over the years visited many beautiful and vibrant cities in many countries. There are many more exotic and glamorous places in the world that I have yet to see, but there is no place like my hometown Segamat. You can take me out of Segamat, but you can never take Segamat out of me.

2 comments:

claudine said...

Dear Speedwing:

Hi, I need some help, my team of four ladies will be going to segamat in sept/oct 2008 for work, and will be staying there for 18 days. They'll be stationed at the Klinik Pergigian Besar Segamat. Do you know of any serviced apartment that I can book them into? A hotel may be too pricey for such a long stay. I would appreciate any advice you can give me. Feel free to email me at claudine@svgroupasia.com.

Miss Farina said...

hey, I am from Segamat too. I studied at Sekolah Tinggi Segamat or also known as English School back then. Some ppl call Segamat as Cowboy town since its lack of modernization as other cities are, but to me, Segamat is just perfect the way it should be.