Batu Arang in Selangor


Selangor Batu Arang Town
Batu Arang in Selangor is one of the almost forgotten towns that once thrived of the coal mining days.

Back in the early 1900s, coal was found and by 1930, the small little settlement had flourished into a busy township where there was even an airstrip for small planes to land.

Amenities like a railway line, police station and even a brick factory was built to suite the working miners and expatriates. Today, Batu Arang is merely a small town with forgotten memories. 

Batu Arang Town

I actually rounded up a group of friends to go on a photography trip to Batu Arang town after hearing about this forgotten town in Selangor.

Upon arriving here, the five of us were taken aback with the simplicity of the town and its people where life seemed to move at a very slow pace.

Local residents seemed to know each other while the main town consisted of a few rows of shop lots.

Brick Factory Batu Arang
Brick chimney and shop houses

Because of the former brick factory that once dominated the skyline of Batu Arang, many of the homes and shops here were built from baked bricks.

The beauty about this is that you can still see the remains of the Batu Arang brick chimney that stands tall in a overgrown compound.

This was a photo opportunity for our group but trying to get into the compound resulted in failure as one of the locals informed us that there were all kinds of snakes living there.

Batu Arang town Selangor
Brick home at Batu Arang town

Life in Batu Arang Town

While Batu Arang comes alive in the mornings with a wet and dry market that lines the main street, you will find all kinds of local vendors selling food and groceries.

Freshly cut chickens are displayed on makeshift tables while there is even a wooden furniture maker that custom makes your chairs and tables.

Locals come out to do their daily or weekly shopping and are seen greeting or mingling among each other. 

However, in our case, one look and we were instantly branded as visitors, because we carried our DSLRs walking around and clicking away.

As we finished our rounds in town, a local eatery selling Roti Canai looked very inviting as many locals were seen having their morning breakfast there.

Personally, it has been many years since I have seen a local Indian lady making the Roti Canai as these days, foreigners are employed to do this cooking skill.

I simply had to get a shot of this for memories sake, and I doubt many Malaysians have seen a sight like this. 

roti canai Selangor
Indian lady making roti canai


Run down pick up truck in town overgrown with weeds

During breakfast, a nice local Malay lady approached us to ask where we came from, and a wonderful conversation started with her telling us a little bit of the towns history.

Just after she left with the food that she packed, another local gentleman informed us that the lady was in fact the police sergeant for the Batu Arang station.

Our instant analysis was that she was checking us out as we were non-familiar faces here. Looks like we had to be careful here. 

Old coal miner quarters in Baru Arang

Batu Arang Coal Mines

After breakfast, we headed out to the brick factory and also to one of the colonial mansions perched on the hill.

As we could not get into the mansion due to security reasons, we then made our way to the famous coal mines which is located nearby the town area.

Around the coal mines are the old British coal miners living quarters, which are made entirely from wood and bricks.

Looking closely, they seem to be still occupied by locals, and one of them which looked abandon caught our eye.

We simply had to go and have a look inside to see how the living quarters were and it was plain and simple from the overall layout.

One kitchen, one room, bathroom at the back and a small hall. A tree had grown along the corner of the home and shot out above the roof.

Old wooden windows still hung strong while sings of cracks were seen all over.

 Estate worker Malaysia
L - Inside one of the quarters R - One of the local palm oil workers poses

Coal Mine at Batu Arang
Entrance to the Coal Mine

Reaching the open coal mine entrance, we had to wade through some overgrown shrubs to get inside here.

Apparently, there were many entrances like these back in the day but unfortunately, they have been all sealed for safety reasons.

This was conveyed to us by one of the local plantation workers there. So this entrance was left for those who wanted to see it. 

Made from bricks and cement, it looked more like a world war two bomb shelter. The entrance lead in about 30 to 40 feet before sloping downwards.

Rail tracks once used to be in the middle where the mined coal would be sent up but have been long removed.

Looking deep into the hole, we could not see anything pass 15 feet. It was flooded with water and smelled not too good. So a quick tour here was done in just five minutes.

Some interesting photography in Batu Arang

After our exploration, we headed back to town and made our way to our next stop as there was no other attraction here. All in all, we managed to see Batu Arang in under three hours.

Lord's Garden in Batu Arang

Our next stop was recommended by a friend and was very interesting from a totally different point of view.

The place was called the Lord's Garden, where a local food businessman left the demanding city life seven years ago to start a simple life planting organic vegetables.

Mr. Yahqappu Adaikkalam obtained a 1.5 acre land where he plants organic vegetables and fruits, all by learning from books and the Internet.

His story goes to say that he found paradise in Batu Arang through the privilege of working the earth, communal living with the locals, and high spiritual aspiration of the reign of God.

He then took to opportunity to introduced us to a good friend of his who also ran an organic poultry farm nearby.

Overall, both visites to these places were rather unusual and was not expected in a place like Batu Arang town.

Directions to Batu Arang Map
A map showing how long it will take from Kuala Lumpur to Batu Arang town
How To Go To Batu Arang Town

To get here from Kuala Lumpur, it takes about 50 minutes drive one way. You also need to get your own transport to visit this part of Selangor.

For bus service to Batu Arang, there is none from what I know. Last I hear there was one local bus from Rawang to Batu Arang, but I would not trust the timings.

Usually, photographers will group together to make a trip here, so they can share a vehicle together. I guess it is more fun than traveling alone.

If you are a solo photographer, perhaps you can just rent a car and self drive here. I would not really depend on any public bus service as it is quite complicated and the timings are irregular.

Conclusion

Overall, this once forgotten town does have some surprises if you plan to do a day trip here, and only for photography.

You get to visit the two farms, see the old coal mines, the brick factory and life in a small local town here in Batu Arang, Selangor.

You can also check out the many places to visit in Selangor when you are visiting this part of Malaysia, and if you have any questions, please do ask below. 
Batu Arang in Selangor Batu Arang in Selangor Reviewed by David Jr on Friday, November 02, 2012 Rating: 5

5 comments:

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

Very interesting adventure, maybe will drive there this weekend. Thanks !

David Jr said...

Ching Wah, yes, please do it early in the morning. Some great photography to be done in Batu Arang.

Kam said...

Nice article and interesting shots here!

David Jr said...

Thank you Kam for the nice words.

Lovisa Princess said...

Hi..

Same !! Each and every day morning is a beautiful moments at adventures, really you will find some great art's shuts from Cam.. Have a Nice Vacation..

Thanks.
Lovisa

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