From disused campus bus to cosy lodging

The refurbished bus is now listed on Airbnb and is available for RM105 a night


FANCY a staycation in a completely refurbished vintage campus bus?

“Parked” outside Universiti Malaya’s (UM) former staff quarters Rumah No 2, located at Lorong 16/10b in Section 16, Petaling Jaya, the bus itself is not much to look at from outside. But step inside and the sight of the tiny, fully-furnished “studio apartment” will leave one hankering to spend a night there.

It comes complete with a snug living room with vinyl flooring that resembles hardwood, kitchenette and bedroom for two. Due to space constraints, there is no bathroom and toilet, but guests can use the facilities at Rumah No 2 which has also been renovated.

The idea of converting a 66-year-old bus that had served as a campus bus at UM until 2013 into an accommodation came from the university’s former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development) Prof Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan.

Taking the cue from him, UM’s Sustainability and Living Labs Secretariat, comprising the university’s Water Warriors and Rimba Project environmental groups, took on the task of transforming the rickety bus. Three months ago, they posted pictures of their converted bus on the Internet which got many people interested in its unique appeal.

Water Warriors project manager Siti Norasiah Abd Kadir, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Science at UM, said initially in 2016 the university wanted to dispose of the old bus that had been stranded on the campus since 2013, but “we decided to give it a new lease of life” following Faisal Rafiq’s idea of converting it into something useful.

“I suppose the university still has sentimental values for the bus and felt an idea like this could showcase the university’s sustainability efforts and the creativity of its staff and students,” she said.

Overwhelming Response

It comes complete with a snug living room with vinyl flooring, kitchenette and bedroom for 2
(pic: Bernama)

Working with the university’s Development and Estate Maintenance Department, the Sustainability and Living Labs Secretariat embarked on the renovation works last year.

“Our work was completed in March this year and we wanted to launch it in April, but due to the MCO (Movement Control Order), we had to postpone it to July,” Siti Norasiah told Bernama.

The refurbished bus is now listed on online vacation rental site Airbnb and is available for RM105 a night.

She said they have been receiving overwhelming response from the public who wish to spend a night or two in the “house on wheels”.

“Most of them wishing to stay here are UM alumni who want to experience their campus life once again,” she said, adding that the secretariat has been entrusted with the asset as a means to generate an income and fund its environmental awareness projects.

Rimba Project manager Siti Syuhada Sapno, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Performing Arts, said besides the refurbished bus, two guest rooms in Rumah No 2 are also available for rent via Airbnb.

“Originally, Rumah No 2 served as the quarters for UM lecturers, but due to its neglect, the university decided to renovate it and allow outsiders to stay there,” she said.

Recycling Projects

There’s overwhelming response from the public who wish to spend a night or 2 in the ‘house on wheels (Source: Rumah No 2 Universiti Malaya)

The vintage bus is not the only attraction at this house as it also sports a garden where vegetables and fruit trees are grown and recycling activities are carried out.

Siti Norasiah said guests staying there can have an insight into UM’s environmental conservation projects carried out voluntarily by the staff and students.

On the grounds of Rumah No 2, they have embarked on a Precious Plastic initiative whereby they collect high-density polyethylene plastic containers, such as empty detergent and shampoo bottles from the university’s residential colleges and neighbourhoods, to be turned into objects such as flower pots, plates, keychains and décor items.

The shredding, compression and extrusion machines are located on-site and money raised from the sale of the end-products are used to fund their activities.

“In a corner of the garden (at Rumah No 2), we have also set aside some space for the production of fertiliser from food waste such as vegetables and fruits.

“The food waste is put into a compost bin and left to compost for two weeks to up to six months, depending on the type of bin we use,” added Siti Norasiah. — Bernama