“Can we just ask the people at McDonalds where it is?” Aisar groans beside me. I don’t blame his frustration.
We’ve been on the road for what feels like and actually has been hours. The sun was retiring soon yet we haven’t had the foggiest idea where we were going. No one replies him, as everyone stares out the windows, eyes roaming in desperation for the place.
The place in question was a landscape of rocky hills that resembled a whole other planet when in actual fact is an abandoned construction site. It looked absolutely majestic to a group of city kids.The place has since popped up on many Instagram feeds, but alas no one has disclosed where we or anyone for that matter, could find said place. We were a bunch of inquisitive kids with too much time on our hands and the urge to explore in our bones, so we investigated. Our best lead was Puncak Alam.
Puncak Alam was a place blossoming of urbanization, but we soon were to discover that it was also a place stuck in urbanization limbo. We chugged up hills where construction sites are frozen in time. We drove past tractors at rest next to the hills they were at one point breaking into. We see rocks and rocks and rocks littered, lying around the wounded hills like broken bones.
Isn’t it kinda ironic that such views are pulling in ‘tourists’? The mini-‘Dubai’ of Pantai Klebang in Melaka for example, has a sudden and constant stream of new tourists. Said part of Pantai Klebang is reclaimed land, a move that my father who was born and raised in Melaka, finds absolutely tragic. I remember him grousing on how they’ll just build another condominium complex or a mall on the site. “That’s urbanization for you.”
In both cases, both Klebang and Puncak Alam, I can vividly remember that rush when our car finally reaches the destination. That rush is like a gooey mix of surrealism and being tremendously moved at the same time. Getting out of the car feels like you’re in an entirely new country or place, exactly like the other side of the wardrobe upon entering Narnia. Just like the Pevensie kids, we just couldn’t freaking believe it.
I think what makes such places so popular is that there’s an expiry date. Sooner or later, those rocky hills in Puncak Alam and the sand dunes in Klebang are going to be flattened. Wiped out of existence, save for the many Instagram posts with the same geotag. This increases the value of both places, as they seem even more precious and special in the eyes of those who capture these places as backdrops in the form of wedding photos and film backgrounds.
At the end of the day, no one can really avoid urbanization. That’s part of evolution, I suppose. My hometown, Subang Jaya, used to be a plantation until it evolved to the traffic-ridden hub it is today. (Still love you, USJ.) All I can sincerely hope is that urbanization doesn’t completely overtake this country, as there is just so much nature to be awed by in Malaysia, I swear. There’s already nature in construction sites like Klebang or Puncak Alam, so can you just imagine nature in nature?
All photos taken on film by Marsya Mohd Johari.