May 6, 2015

My wife’s hometown

…is a shithole.

I’ve been married for 13 years and the one thing that grinds my gears about my marriage has got to be my wife’s hometown, Pantai Remis (PR). Most of you probably haven’t heard of this place. For those of you who have, you probably had known it from the infamous oil spill incident near this shithole many years ago. It is located in the state of Perak, about a good 40km away from the port of Lumut. (If you still have no idea where it is, you should just swallow a box of thumbtacks.)

It is a small town with less than 20,000 inhabitants, built around the fishing industry (and later palm-oil). Initially when the place was first established, there were just shanties built by some fishermen lying around this coastal area along an old highway which linked Lumut to other more civilized parts of Perak (Taiping, Ipoh, et al). Population here then swelled because these fishermen lacked of entertainment, and PR became this unofficial rest-stop for truck drivers looking for a good meal along the highway. Truck drivers soon got integrated with the locals, and boom! This shithole was born. Despite being such a cibai small town, it now has a few sets of traffic light adorning its usually-empty crossroads without serving any purpose other than jamming up the high volume of vehicles plying the highway. To make things worse, the trucks narrow the shit down even further (yes, trucks still stop here). Whenever there’s a holiday, shit gets escalated a few folds and makes this place a jam-fest like it’s in the streets of Bangkok.

The air here is always foul with the smell from the fishermen’s jetties, pigsties and farms around the area. Garbage is strewn everywhere and the roads here have more potholes than people on the surface of this planet. Most of the drains here are clogged with leachate from unregulated small-medium-home factories in the community and uncollected garbage dumps. At certain time of the year, the place will be choked with smog from excessive incense and agricultural burning (from the palm-oil estate). Flies thrive here like hippies in America and they hold free will gathering anywhere they like. There’s at least one blackout every week, and having a generator set in a building is compulsory.

The people here are mostly fucked up too. Majority are Chinese, with a big percentage of them loafers, thugs and gangsters. These social garbage and delinquents swarm around PR town on motorcycles without wearing helmets and without regards to the traffic rules (which worsens the already fucked up traffic). Those who aren’t thugs or gangsters and born with some sense in them, would leave the town to seek for a better future, just like my wife (you’d see shitloads of cars with foreign plates jamming this place up during Chinese New Year). There’s 1 police station in PR, and it does nothing other than having a building/presence here (occasional roadblocks, mostly during Ramadhan month, if you know what I mean). That’s why the community here has its own voluntary neighborhood watch committee to keep things together. Rumor mongering is rampant, because every housewife knows everybody and their prying eyes become their source of information to fuel their daily gossip with equally nosy neighbors. Success stories and wealth become trophies for tales, and often leads to desperation. That is why the people here cheat/con one another for their own selfish gain, and this is as common as fleas to a stray dog.

I know I can always stay away from this place like a plaque, but this is where the problem lies. In relative to its distance from Penang, it is not far enough for my family to defer any trip there. Excuse is harder to fabricate when the hometown is this near and that put me in such predicament that no words can ever describe. Every 2 – 3 weeks, I’ll have to drive my wife back to her hometown (a 1.75 hr journey) and promptly drive back (another 1.75 hr journey) because I couldn’t stand spending an extra minute there. End of the weekend, I’d make the to-fro journey again to get her back to Penang. This has put extra mileage to my car, and that was why I changed to a hybrid vehicle 3 years ago to cut my losses.

The only thing that this place did right for me, was to churn out someone as decent as my wife. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have met her and have this great daughter/family together. Hell, I’d probably be married to terrible bitch from another planet, which would have been way worse. A decent wife with a shitty hometown is hands-down a better trade off than a fucked up bitch with a good hometown. Comes with the territory, I suppose. Nothing’s perfect.

michaelooi  | places  | 

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