I am thankful that she has remained as beautiful as ever, quiet, seductive, carefree and mesmerizing.
Sited far away from the madding crowd, accessible only through the winding pathways off Seremban, it is no wonder that the lady remained as she is, less too many visitors, too much encroachments and urge to beautify or upgrade knocks her off the high pedestal.
When I first toured Britain and Europe in my teenage years, the tourist brochures and postcards recognized the magnificent castles in the country sides and we were hapless at not following the guidelines. So we troad away into dales and hillocks less we became shortchanged in our tour of the country climbing staircases and crossed moats to see buildings much glamoured by King Arthur or William Shakespeare.
SERI MENANTI in all its magnificence has a palace to offer the visitors. I must admit I am awed at what I saw. The skills, craftsmanship, labor of love, joy at building such a structure as a home must certainly brought fulfillment to all. It is no wonder the lady has been cared for in complete luxury and solitude. She is exceptional. One in a million. No! perhaps the sole survivor if any.
May I urge friends, who have remained shy and distance from the lady to call upon her. Please take a day off and guide yourself along the North South Highway till you enter Seremban and then follow the direction to Kuala Pilah till you come to a junction indicating her home. From Subang Jaya it took us no more than two hours. If you have longer duration you will find an extension nearby which can take you to the east coast and perhaps call upon another lady friend invariably left alone because she is off the beaten track too. I meant here the capital of Pahang i.e Pekan.
You may also be surprised to see how Seremban has expanded. My visit almost four decades ago to the town looks like being a prehistoric calling. Much has happened.
For all its splendors, there are yet simplicity and good natured characteristics in between. Our visit to the 'Nine States' brought us to a restaurant offering dishes peculiar to the people of Minangkabau origin for lunch and at the end of the day to cool ourselves with 'cendul' at a stall made famous by a television program recently. The distinction here was the mode and the colorful seller himself.
This is the open ground floor of the building. Four pillars known as 'tiang seri' stands in the middle part. One is in the foreground of the picture. Each was once a solid tree trunk and measured 65 feet upwards reaching to the high roof. Solid and hard, each is no less 15" each side. Throughout there are ninety-nine pillars supporting the building.
This is the panoramic view from one of the windows of the 'Istana'. The verdant landscape still remained intact and the quiet solitude of the town gives an awe not easily discovered anywhere presently. Designated as a royal museum, it allows visitors to come home to a cultural splendor.
The palace as seen from another angle, showing the extension to the kitchen and the servant quarters at the back.
As seen from the left section and at the back of the palace
Variety of hot sauce to choose from and the other dishes include meat ( rusa, kijang, burung puyuh, burung ayam-ayam), duck's egg plus greens or ulam of all kind. All found at a restaurant somewhere near the Negeri Sembilan Football Association building.One advice come early.
Pak Leman sells 'cendul'. He offers a deal not to be found anywhere. You choose a bowl of 'candul' ( pulut, kacang, jagung). Any extra bowls are free/ gratis. Even warm, barley water is served free of charge. Pak Laman declares that once he was refused a second helping because he had no extra coin . He vowed he would not allow anyone to face the same predicament again. You won't at his stall. Besides he is a character himself, meeting his guests with candid charm and is a walking encyclopedia churning off information , statistics and history at lightening speed.
Come torrent rain, his guests will not be caught wet. I was on the point of rushing for the car in the background when Pak Leman shouted if my umbrella is as good as his. Do I want to use his umbrella? Sure since I won't be wet rushing to get one from the car. Then he came out with his, even on wheels and it certainly put you right into the car without a drop of rain touching you. Call that supreme service at Pak Leman
Less we forget, since not many of us climb stairs to get into our home; you may know that in Malay homes all the 'anak tangga' (steps) are designed in even numbers. Here as at the other section of the palace home you can go up after stepping on fourteen 'anak tangga' quite high for any Malay building.
We are not beating the retreat by sounding this drum. Here a hollow tree trunk remained a symbol of calling the Muslim to prayer or indicating warnings and messages when electricity and loud speaker system was unheard of. You will discover this as one of the properties of the lady that awaits your visit.