Jalan-Jalan in Titi Town

25 July 2017

About 50km from Seremban is the small hilly town of Titi. Founded in 1838, Titi was an isolated enclave for the Hakka Siow clan that emigrated from Fuichiu, China. Today, we explore the history and life of this sleepy and convivial town.

The road to Titi is a winding one, flanked by lush tropical trees that eventually make way to ferns and shrubs.

Situated in the mountainous terrains of Negeri Sembilan’s Jelebu District, Titi is a microcosm of a past where locals cycle to their favourite coffeeshop while striking up languid conversations with their friends and neighbours. Here, time is a standstill, and the doors to each home remain open to visitors old and new.

Founded in 1838, Titi ­– which means “small bridge” in Malay – is home to a small community of the Siow clan that emigrated from Fuichiu, China in the hopes of partaking in the tin mining boom of the time. The miners then relished their newfound prosperity and embarked on other agricultural ventures such as rubber and pineapple planting.

However, the rumblings of communist insurgencies in the 1940s lead to Titi’s largest and most tragic massacre, with 1,474 residents killed during a Japanese raid on March 18, 1942.

Mr Hue, the resident projectionist of Titi’s History Society

Traces of the past remain today, as seen in the large pink memorial stone built to commemorate the tragedy. In the town itself, a humble shop lot is used to house the History Society of Titi. Founded and funded by chairman Siow and projectionist Hue Kon Sing, they aim to educate locals and visitors alike on Titi’s illustrious past and the severity of war.

Today, the isolated town is beginning to see a smattering of new faces – hoards of cyclists from Hulu Langat and Jeram Toi would make a stop for the town’s famous Hakka yong tau foo and chai koh, a colourful array of traditional cakes, all made by hand.

Many of the residents’ homes are old traditional wooden houses. Some have abandoned them for the concrete settlements that double up as a shophouse. Hairdressing seems to be a popular business, with one at almost every corner of the town. Families on motorbikes roam the streets, and by 8am, the town comes alive with the sounds and smells of local delicacies being made in the kitchen – just in time, for breakfast.

Text and photos by Lillian Wee

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