Nov 12, 2013

A nudge from Lee Kee Kopitiam

Jeram is a small unassuming town on the Malaysian West Coast, a 23 minute drive away from Klang. 

Locals know it by the famous Pantai Remis grilled fish, Kedai Kopi Shin Lok, or just somewhere that you pass by on the way to Sekinchan’s glorious paddy fields or Kuala Selangor’s fireflies. It’s so tiny that we would never have stopped by if we hadn't lost our way looking for Kedai Kopi Shin Lok. 

By small town, I mean small. 
by the parking lot. side-view of Lee Kee Kopitiam.
I'm not kidding. The most happening place in town is just a row of four shops.

The museum on top of Bukit Melawati has a small mention on Jeram:
(Technically, the display was about Bukit Cherakah, a short distance from the junction.)

From what I could remember, the museum said that Bukit Cherakah is cursed. No one managed to develop it. 

In the colonial era, an Englishman tried to, and gave orders to start building on the hill but before long; all the foundations and pillars sank, proving once again that it’s a place not to be touched

When the Englishman heard of the sinking, he swore angrily in Malay! But his accent must have altered the phrase a bit, and that is how the name Bukit Cherakah came about.

British accents are Cherakah! HAHAHA.

-ok back to Jeram-

After solving some problem with the hotel parking card, making lots of wrong turnings around Klang, and driving in the rain, I finally found my way to Jeram, slightly frazzled.
From left: the first is an empty looking shop, the second is Tan Chee Leong the grocer's, the third is the abandoned old MCA building which caught my eye in the first place, and lastly, a coffee shop. 

I decided to stake out the surroundings and have some tea at the kopitiam first.
yellowing ceilings; yellowing everything.
Nervously clutching my huge Canon and wearing the Tourism Selangor shirt, I felt really out of place at Kedai Kopi Lee Kee.

Tin spoons clinking against kopitiam cups, some of the locals gave me a glance then continued their morning chats. 
It has a really comfortable, muhibbah kind of atmosphere, but I was too nervous to enjoy it.

After a too-sweet cup of teh tarik (bleargh), I mustered up the courage to talk to the shop owner.

Lee Kee is a wonderfully kind, but slightly awkward man. Dressed in an over-sized grayish green shirt and a ratty milo apron, he bustled up and down in his hunched shuffle, collecting payment and serving up coffees without missing a beat. He’s a man of few words, but his few words are enough to encourage me a little.
the tea station.
The little kitchen radio was tuned to Lite FM, belting out tunes from the eighties. Just to make it clear, Lee Kee is not exactly a romantic little kopitiam like Chong Kok. But its no-nonsense style is well loved by Jeram residents, since I managed to snag the only empty table in the place.

I was still nervous and stupidly self-conscious. If Grace had been here, I can get her to ask questions and take photos for me! I really should stop over-thinking but what if this...what if that...? This solo trail challenge is really a challenge lah.

Lee Kee came back to the kitchen, bearing stacks of cups and plates.

I blurted out, is it okay if I took pictures of your kitchen?

He stopped, and mumbled something that I couldn't quite hear.


He tilted his head slightly, and with a wide gap-toothed grin, he went, 

I said, why not? What’s the problem? Go ahead lah!

That moment, is the happiest of the day.

Why did it take me so long to see that? 

Smiling, I turned back to the camera.

Yes, why not, indeed?


  1. My granny's house is in Jeram! you should go to Shin Lok Kopitiam next time.Nice article btw, I can somehow relate your awkwardness of being alone. lol xx

    1. ohhh i just saw this comment! alone is awkward, but as you calm down sikit it actually feels quite good. more road trips when you come back yo!