Malaysia Bus Trip – Sidequests

We had a couple of sidequests for this bus trip to Malaysia.

ONE: Buy underwear

This is especially significant for Baby Tilapia, considering that he hardly buys things. He has tried to reuse other people’s discarded underwear before. Some people find that disgusting, but the truth is, once you wash it thoroughly and soak it overnight with Dettol or other antiseptic solution, it becomes indistinguishable from your own washed underwear.

But the problem with reusing other people’s discarded underwear is that they rarely come in the size you want, and very often, are not in good condition. You know how when you use an underwear for several years, if you bought it at L size, it has become XXL by the time it’s no longer fit for wearing? Yeah…

So anyway, after attempting to get by without buying underwear, Baby Tilapia has succumbed to the call of consumerism and decided to go to a Hush Puppies sale in Batu Pahat to buy his underwear.

Now Hush Puppies underwear are not exactly cheap. They were selling 6 for RM50, or about RM8.30 per underwear. But there’s a reason why Baby Tilapia chose to buy Hush Puppies underwear instead of some no-brand. It can be summed up in Vimes’ ‘Boots’ theory of socio-economic unfairness, which is found in one of Terry Pratchett’s books:

Consider that Baby Tilapia has been using the same pair of Hush Puppies underwear for the past 8 years — and they are still wearable, no matter what Mama Tilapia says about his underwear.

Baby Crab also got her underwear, but unlike fish, crabs buy new underwear once every 2-3 years.

TWO: Get a haircut

Baby Crab needed a haircut. The last time she cut her hair was about a year ago. She can’t have her hair cut too often, otherwise her hair takes on a funny shape. And Baby Crab is unable to cut her own hair, even though she is a trained hairdresser. She does cut Baby Tilapia’s hair, except that he went to get a number 2 haircut with Papa Tilapia in Pontian last month. So he doesn’t need another haircut for a few months.

As we walked around Batu Pahat on the weekend, we found that many hair salons and studios were not open. There was one, but it charged RM41 for a haircut, which we thought was ridiculous.

We knocked on the door or rang the doorbell for several others. At one particular hair salon that we passed, there was a kitten outside, meowing to be let inside. We decided to open the door for the kitten, and at the same time, ask if they are open for a haircut.

As we pushed the door open, we found no hairdressing equipment inside. Just a large open hall with 4 beds in the far corner. A woman was laying on one of the beds. Another woman walked out towards us while a third scantily clad woman walked out from an inner room.

Somewhat alarmed, Baby Tilapia watched as Baby Crab asked if they do haircuts.

β€œOnly for men,” smiled the woman who approached us. β€œIf you want hair cut for women, please try the shop down the road.”

Baby Crab thanked her as we hurried off.

β€œDid you see what was inside?” asked Baby Crab. Baby Tilapia nodded furiously.

THREE: Look for a used van

We plan to get a used van some time next year to use for our road trips. This would save us lots in travel costs, and would enable us to go to many more places in Malaysia and Thailand that are inaccessible on foot or without transport.

Even in Batu Pahat there are places that we would have liked to go to, but even though you can take a GrabCar there, you would be hard pressed to find a GrabCar back. We’ve marked these down on our map for future exploration though.

As we walked and explored Batu Pahat, we came across some used car dealers, so we went to take a look. We have in mind what we want already:

A high-roof, Toyato Hiace, that’s less than 15 years old.

So we started looking around at a few, and started asking questions. We found that the prices at some dealers are actually lower than the listed prices online, such as at and

One of the things we also wanted to try is to see if Baby Crab could stand her full height inside a Hiace high-roof. The answer is Yes!

One of the issues we have is that Hiace usually comes with passenger seats. We would need to remove them and put them at some place while we use the van. After we’re done with the van and when we want to resell it, we need to reinstall the seats. However, at one dealer, they told us that they can sell us the van without seats, and rent us the seats when we need to resell it. The only question is, would this dealer still be in business when it was time to sell the van?

FOUR: Unique Local Attractions

Wherever we go, we try to keep an eye out for unique local attractions. We’re not interested in tourist attractions though, such as Wet World Batu Pahat Village Resort. But we did want to see the DIY Playground.

This involves taking a walk into a suburban residential area. It’s not far from the commercial area, about half the distance to The Summit shopping mall.

The DIY Playground is a self-made community park. The recreational facilities are all made from waste, such as old tyres, planks, and buckets. We noticed that a lot of locals brought their kids to this playground as well. Some of the facilities were fairly challenging for adults like us, but I suppose it’s easier if you’re a kid with lower centre of gravity.

FIVE: Hang out in a cafe

Actually Batu Pahat has many cafes. Most of the cafes don’t have much business, which is actually good if you just want to sit and chill at a cafe. We visited several of them, including aoberhangkopi, but we found it too expensive. We finally settled in the Jing Si Books & Cafe.

It’s located in a suburban residential estate. We chanced across this sidewalk with clear demarcations for pedestrians and cyclists. While it is a good idea, we found that further down the road, it becomes impractical to cycle there due to the presence of trees on the path. Somehow it didn’t get implemented properly.

This cafe is run by Tzu Chi. Jing Si Books publishes many books, and we think that the cafe is just a side business, just a place for people to hang out while they read their books. All their drinks cost the same — RM5, and if you bring your own reusable cup or mug, you get RM2 discount.

This comes from Tzu Chi’s strong stance on environmentalism, but it also showed us that the cafe isn’t really their main source of revenue. That comes from the sale of books, among other things that are available for sale.

We’ll close off this post with another shot of Batu Pahat, this time with rainy clouds:

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