Batu Arang in Selangor


Batu Arang Town in Selangor

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. 

I actually rounded up a group of friends to go on a photography trip here after hearing about this small 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 build from baked bricks and you can still see the remains of the 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

While the town 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 make shift 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 visitors as 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.

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 she 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.

Old coal miner quarters in Baru Arang

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, 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 from bricks. They seem to be still occupied by locals these days 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 only open coal mine entrance, we had to wade through some overgrown shrubs 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.

Our next stop was recommended by a friend and was very interesting. It was called the Lords Garden where a local food businessman left the demanding city life seven years ago to life a simple life planting organic vegetables. From there he introduced us to a good friend of his who ran an organic poultry farm nearby. 

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

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