Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (2 of 3): Getting there, life in Mantin and rule-breaking

Some people are initially apprehensive about going to a school in the “middle of nowhere”. Strictly speaking it is still quite accessible, given that the transport system in West Malaysia is generally better developed.

Getting there
The school is located near Mantin, Negeri Sembilan, about 40 minutes away from KLIA.

Transport to and from airports and elsewhere can be arranged and paid for through the school. It has its own network of regular taxi drivers, so it is quite safe.

Mantin is a small Hakka town. There are many other colleges in the area: Linton, Manipal, Lagenda to name a few.

There is a mamak stall in Mantin (apparently these are quite popular in West Malaysia), a pub somewhere near the mamak stall, a Chinese hawker centre (best place to get pork) and a KFC. You can get groceries at Zemart, the 99 Speedmart or the 1 Malaysia store; and of course there is Rainbow World which has a good selection of mugs. There is also a liquor store which I like to stare into on Sundays.

On the weekends there are many Chinese-speaking aunties who sell fruits and vegetables. To this day I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to buy Australian carrots in Chinese.


I go to the St. Aloysius church on Sundays and other holy days of obligation. It is a very inclusive parish and it takes an interest in the welfare of the African and East Malaysian students in the vicinity. I did the church readings a few times (I am slightly better at speaking in front of a crowd of 200-300 than a class of 10) and took part in the washing of the feet – the first time the church allowed girls to do it. I actually really miss it – I like it better than the churches at home.

We get to go to Mantin unsupervised, but the Protestant kids follow one of the teachers to the church in Seremban. Their group is much bigger, and their bus leaves about an hour later.

On days when I don’t feel like speaking Chinese, I use photographs to make my order.
Shaved ice from the hawker centre

Mantin is great – none of this big city skyscraper stuff. I honestly don’t think I could survive in a city environment.


I didn’t do drugs (despite having the opportunity) but I did do a fair bit of drinking. It is fairly easy to get away with if done in moderation and alone (witnesses and co-conspirators are liabilities).

Explore all the out of bounds areas
I did this with a friend one morning. None of these places were particularly impressive. The ‘Out of Bounds’ area near Jawahir just leads to a concrete structure that the school lake drains into. There is also a big monkey trap among the vegetation somewhere.

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The water tower.

Climb the water tower

The view from atop the water tower. Not worth the trip.

I had to observe the guards’ movements for a week before I did this. The structure has no flooring until you reach the top, the railings are dusty and the steps are quite steep. You also risk getting caught because it is quite easy to spot someone on a structure that is all sticks and no walls. There is also a spotlight that turns on between 6:25 and 6:30. I should have listened to my friend when she said the view from up there wasn’t that great.

Break into the MPH
I did this almost every morning for my last few weeks in school. It is usually pitch black at around 6:45 and the only light you have are the red LED numbers on the clock next to the climbing wall. The only time that I was (almost) caught was on the last day of school when some school groundskeepers came in and turned on the lights. Thankfully there was a whiteboard (the one they use during exams) to hide behind.

Break into the auditorium
I used to do this before every sixth form assembly and sometimes before school assemblies on Monday mornings. You can usually get in via the backstage entrance, but it can be quite dark if the cleaners and guards haven’t come round to turn on the lights yet. I do this for the grand piano. If you play the piano, you will know that the touch of a grand and that of an upright is very different. And you will hopefully see the logic behind this.

Part 1: the school
Part 3: surviving the wildlife


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