The Five Foot Way

by David Wallace April. 03, 2020 489 views

BATU PAHAT, MALAYSIA: Many towns in South East Asia feature rows of shophouses, underneath the front of which run covered arcades. These arcades are known as the 'Five Foot Way' because they are nominally five feet wide. There is a suggestion that they were brought to Malaysia and Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles as a result of his experiencing them in what is now Indonesia.

Outside a street corner coffee shop in Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

Outside a street corner coffee shop in Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

Life has taken place in the Five Foot Ways for over a century in Malaysia. It's been my joy to explore these amazing spaces and the life within them for over twenty years.

The Five Foot Ways, Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

The Five Foot Ways, Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

For family reasons I spend a lot of time in the town of Batu Pahat on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, roughly a third of the way between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Although it has sprawled in the last twenty years with mile upon mile of bland new development, at it it's heart, BP has a fabulous old town.

Fruit Shop in the Five Foot Way, Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

Fruit Shop in the Five Foot Way, Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

Mainly dating from the 1930s and 40s the Batu Pahat old town features some fabulous old shophouses, and their associated Five Foot Ways. Commerce still goes on, and indeed there has been something of a resurgence of activity in the last few years.

All manner of parking, Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

All manner of parking, Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

These were shot a few years back, just as some life was returning to the old town. I used my trusty Olympus OM-2n together with I think a Zuiko 2/50 lens. They are taken on Fuji Velvia 100F, which I used more than I thought when I look back, and in retrospect really like.

Slow day for the mechanic in Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

Slow day for the mechanic in Batu Pahat. Olympus OM-2n | Zuiko 2/50 | Fuji Velvia 100F

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Varsha Arun 12 months ago

If I ever you are able to visit Mumbai, you could check out the Colaba Causeway, a street-long shopping arcade similar to 5-foot ways... :-)

12 months ago Edited
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