Idyllic Kuala Sepetang

22nd November 2008, Saturday

Port Weld or now known as Kuala Sepetang (In Mandarin, it’s called si pa ting or 18 sons) is about 16 km away from Taiping town and it’s just a long straight road after Simpang. It would take about 20 minutes to drive to Port Weld from Taiping town. The road towards Kuala Sepetang is flanked both sides by the fertile mangrove swamp. The effervescent green color was a nice touch to the otherwise pale horizon.

Before we go for the curry mee, we stopped by the charcoal factory to have a look around. The locals here are really friendly and nice. They let you take photographs without showing the tulan face. Haha! Some of the people here even willingly posed for you to take their pictures!

It is amazing that these people could work here for so many years. Most of the people who are packers for charcoal are elderly people. And they appear to be really strong and healthy. Even the old aunty could carry a 10 kg guni sack on her shoulder easily without help! I don’t know how the business thrives as most of us are using electrical and gas for cooking now, unlike yesteryears when my grandmother used to cook using charcoal. I think you can read all that here.

We then head on to the mangrove swamp area to have a look around. It was a mangrove reserve area with some man-made bridge surrounding the mangrove swamp.

Mangrove Swamp

The locals would normally go for morning or evening walks around this area. There were many chalets along the mangrove swamp which remain almost unoccupied so it appeared almost “haunted” to us. We just had a short walk along the bridge and headed back to the car to get back to the main agenda – pigging out.

This curry mee stall is just situated at the main curve of the road into Kuala Sepetang town. Run by the whole family, you will see the children coming out to help out during weekends. I guess if you would like to have the curry mee here, try coming on Saturdays instead of Sundays. It would be packed to the brim on Sundays! The kon lou is just as superb! You have to try to kon lou mee and pour some curry on it. Sinfully delicious!

The curry mee was so good that Sailor Boy vowed to come back to have some more the following day before we return to Kuala Lumpur.

After the scrumptious “tea break”, we walked by the road where the old railway used to be. For your information, Port Weld was the first place where the British built the railway in 1885 during the tin rush. It was unfortunate that the railway tracks were not preserved and roads and houses had been built on it over the years. The old station signboard in concrete still remains standing through test of times though. I found it rather funny as the old signboard has the English, Chinese, Tamil and Arabic names on it during British rule.. and now, Penang – are going to enforce having signboards in different languages to mimic old times? Are their mindsets still being colonized? What’s wrong having signboards only in Malay and English language?

We walked about and went to the Fisherman Wharf situated just behind the curry mee stall. I thought of taking a boat ride to the opposite site of the river and found it was actually a very “small” river. Haha! You can see the whole fishing village from the opposite side where we stand. Houses built on stilts and boats docking by. It cost only 10 sen for a boat ride to cross to the opposite side of the river less than 200 m away.

For dinner, we headed straight to Restoran Tepi Sungai, which is just 5 minutes’ walk away from my late grandmother’s house. The owner of the restaurant has a big and visible black mole in between his chin and his neck on the left and hence, his nick name “Or Ki” in Hokkien means “Black Mole”. Mr Or Ki is a very nice person. He recommended some really delicious meals for us.

House special – Yao Char Kuai stuffed with fish meat!

Our family has been living in Kuala Sepetang for many, many years, hence our family is quite well known around the town. My late grandpa and grandma were known as “Eh Loh” which means “short and tall”. My late grandpa was a handsome man standing tall at 6 ft whereas my grandma was a petite lady standing at 4ft 10. Hence, the nickname derived.

Super fresh steamed mantis prawn

We had scrumptious dinner consisting of fried yao char kuai with fish meat, fried tofu with fish meat, kam heong crabs, seong tong lala, steamed fish, fish in assam and stir fried kangkung in belacan!

Kick ass steamed fish

And we had all these food overlooking the quiet fishing village along the mangrove swamp. It was sad to know that there is a proposed development to build another “Sunway Lagoon” here. I don’t know how true that is but the locals informed us of this horrifying, impending plan. I will pray and pray.. and pray that this would NEVER happen!

Awesome Assam fish

Our night didn’t end there… Sailor Boy still had the stomach to eat a bowl of lam mee which he said was absolutely heavenly.. and after we took our baths, we felt that we should end the day of gluttony with a bang.

What is more happening than to go over to the Green House area along Jalan Tupai for some best char kueh teow (“CKT”) on the planet? (as coined by James from Loopy Meals) Unfortunately, I don’t know why they don’t serve it on the ketapang leaves anymore? That would bring out the aroma of the CKT! I think we should have ta pao one packet to go home for second round of supper! We had two plates of  the goodies fried with duck and chicken eggs each!

Taiping was unbelievably hip in the night with the new amusement park. Everybody seemed to be hogging the place. There was a nasty jam around the Siang Malam’s food court so, we decided to give the “wu kok” a miss (Wu kok is made of yam wrapped with minced pork, onions with green peas and all fried to perfection).

We then loitered around Jalan Eliathamby where the infamous transvestites and transsexuals would congregate. I think transvestites and transsexuals ought to be given equal opportunities to work. They are like that not because they want to be but because of their own nature of being.

The night ended with us snoring away in the comfort of my late grandmother’s home in Kuala Sepetang. It was a peaceful night sleep with a full, bloated tummy and we dreamed of nothing but having more and more spoonfuls of the sinfully delicious curry mee. Did we mention we vowed to have another one tomorrow before we hit home?

Credit: Thanks to Yuin for the food pictures as my camera batteries died unceremoniously during crucial hours and the genius me FORGOT to bring charger!

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12 Responses to “Idyllic Kuala Sepetang”

  1. yuin Says:

    oh my god! were we that gluttonous?

  2. Gina Says:

    Yes.. wait till day 2.. the pictures alone would give you utter shock!! Lol!

  3. Tony Says:

    The pictures of the mantis prawns and the steamed fish really really rock.

    Kuala Sepetang is now on my need to do list. :)

  4. Gina Says:

    Tony: Yes, you should make a trip up (it’s north!) to Taiping. If I have some free time to spare, I would definitely have no qualm in bringing you and your roaring 40s around!

  5. Peter Says:

    Seems more a food journey then something else:) How very Malaysian…lol… Food looks awesome.

    One thing you didn’t do, take a boat and go deep in the swamps, which is really cool to do. I’ve done that a few times (next Thursday again), once with a local Malay guy collecting timber… that was really awesome.

  6. Jack Bee Hang Chua Says:

    Hi, I was rather impressed by your writing about the little town which happened to be my home town (once upon a time). I stay in Port Weld until 1978 before we moved to Simpang, and I really missed all the good food there, Lor mee, Laksa, Curry mee… I am a great fan of all those stuff! Once a while I visit my home town with my wife and kids and we still patronize the stalls that selling good food. My time of curry mee’s price was about 10 cents/bowl…

    • Gina Says:

      Thanks. I believe your parents would have known my parents/ grandparents then? Kuala Sepetang is a quiet small town, where everybody knows your name. They can be nosey at times, but they meant no harm. Haha. I think the curry mee you had would probably from Baby Aunty – the lady with a full head of white hair. Unfortunately, she’s no more selling and her only son gambled her money away. This curry mee I am talking belongs to Uncle Tai and his clan.

  7. Jack Bee Says:

    Ya, I guess so…that’s the unique characteristic of a small fishing village, your parents should know my parents,how nice the little ” Kampong spirit” which I still cherish till today, ironically, I couldn’t even know my next door’s neigbor.By the way I stayed in Kampong Bahru( Sim Pah) when I was still at my young age…Wow, you are still quite informed about the news there, the curry mee which I loved a lot was from uncle ” Kah Cheng” and the Lor mee that i patronize frequently was a stall manned by an auntie from Penang (in her 60+). Sad to hear the tragic story of a prodigal son that gambled away Baby aunt’s hard earned money.

    • Gina Says:

      Jack, I am still informed because both my aunts are still there. They are the ones who open the first hair salon in Port Weld. Now they are still doing old ladies’ hair for only RM20 – wash, cut and perm! I think if you ask your parents, they probably still know them.

      I know where Sim Pah is. :) We still go back to Port Weld a few times a year. Now they have more Vietnamese now because the fishermen cannot find local wives, so they had to resort to bride order… and I heard there are African fishermen too, now.

      • Jack Bee Hang Chua Says:

        Gina, let me guess…I supposed you are the niece of Auntie Ah Eng ( Li Shing’s wife), correct me if I am wrong…Ya, I heard from my younger sister that there are a lot of Vietnamese women married to the locals there, particularly the “kway kang” men, well not that bad after all, poor local supply of brides will be filled by the abundant supply of distant brides, a very normal phenomenon which occur here in Singapore, where many Singaporean marrying China, Vietnamese women…

  8. Gina Says:

    Sorry Jack. I checked with my mom and she doesn’t know who you were referring. My aunts are quite famous in Port Weld. They are 3 sisters opening a hair salon, probably the first. The same shop also house a dentistry. The dentist – Dr Lau is still renting my late grandma’s place and comes every Friday and half Saturday. Dr Lau is now well into his 60s as well. He used to be a handsome guy… now got beer belly liao. Haha!

    • Jack Bee Hang Chua Says:

      Oh, probably my version of the hair saloon was in the 60s, because there wasn’t any denstistry in Port Weld then. Anyway your aunts saloon still one of the pioneer batch in view of the recent booming of hair saloons there… I had a glimpsed of my home town during my 2 recent visits there, pretty much the same, except those uncles and aunties that I know off are alrerady in their 60 ~80+, and my juniors are in their 40+, some still regconize me but I could only recognize a handfull of them. Any way, I enjoy reading your blog, it is very entertaining and sparks my nostalgic feeling about my home town. I still patronize Nam Hong and Thye Hong coffee shops at the Pekan alone or with my wife, the coffee still taste the same but the coffee shops had both changed names and bosses…so long.

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