Oh, oh, oh ‘balik kampung’ joy as Malaysia lifts interstate travel ban after months of lockdown

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A general view of traffic at the Ipoh Selatan Toll Plaza in Ipoh October 11, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib
A general view of traffic at the Ipoh Selatan Toll Plaza in Ipoh October 11, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Oct 12 — Some Perakians living and working outstation wasted no time planning their return home as soon as the federal government announced the reopening of the state borders on Sunday.

Among the early birds was Mohd Shahzad Mohd Rashid who works as a public relations officer in neighbouring Selangor and came back on the very first day the state borders reopened yesterday.

“The last time I visited my hometown was before the second lockdown.

“However, I decided to come back to Ipoh today as I was actually on leave, plus it’s my father’s birthday today, so the removal came at the right time,” the 29-year-old said of the interstate travel ban when contacted yesterday.

For Mohd Shahzad, the thing he looked forward to the most these past few months was his mother’s cooking. Especially her masak lemak cili api dish.

“For me, instead of going around places, I just want to spend time with my loved ones and enjoy home cooked food before returning to work,” he said.

Another Ipoh native, John Stephen Moses said the last time he went back to his parents’ home here was almost 10 months ago, in early January.

Like Mohd Shahzad, the 34-year-old John said it was just a quick weekend visit back then as he is based in Shah Alam, Selangor.

“I’m planning to return as soon as possible. I am looking forward to travel back to my mother’s home under strict standard operating procedures to ensure everyone at home is safe as well,” said the lecturer at UOW Malaysia KDU University College.

However, John said his homecoming will have to wait a few more days as he still has classes to teach and grade this week.

Besides visiting his parents and relatives at home, John said he hopes to reunite in-person with his friends whom he has not seen in almost a year.

“I’m looking forward to indulging in the local delicacies in my hometown which I have not got to experience for almost a year.

Ice kacang, cendol, fried kuey teow and pot rice are some local delicacies that is calling my name and must not be missed,” he rattled off, adding: “I am feeling grateful as interstate travel is lifted nationwide.”

A relationship manager from American Express in Kuala Lumpur who only wanted to be named as Jack said he cannot wait for the weekend to come home.

“I will be going back to Ipoh this Friday and leaving back on Monday. No specific reason, I just miss my hometown,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Jack said that the last time he visited Ipoh was two months ago, and that was a brief trip to help his aged parents with their Covid-19 vaccinations.

“It was just a day trip. No activities were done on that day,” said the 31-year-old.

“However, it is good to go back this time around as dine-in is allowed. I miss Ipoh’s delicious variety of foods. Looking forward to go to my favourite restaurants with my family,” he added.

Communications manager Mark S. who is based here in Ipoh is homesick for Sabah.

The last time the 38-year-old was there was three years ago.

“I’m still not sure when Sabah will open its doors to interstate travel. My feeling is that I will only be going back next year because I want to avoid the rush of people heading back once the gates are open.

“It’s tough not seeing family for that long, but we’re still in a pandemic. Sacrifices must be made, at least for ordinary people,” said Mark.

Another Sabahan who gave her name as Lita said she is planning her return home to Sandakan in two more months, for Christmas.

“Everyone is rushing back home now, the overall atmosphere might be risky. I have to be extra cautious since I will be travelling with two babies,” she said.

Like everyone else interviewed, the 30-year-old Ipoh-based civil servant said she is looking forward to indulging in the cheap and fresh seafood that her hometown is famous for.

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