North Bound Trip

Apologies for lack of updates. Apart from being awed by the amount of people who turned up for BERSIH (I didn’t go because I am such a chicken shit!), I went up north for a short trip with my family and also, to attend an ex colleague’s wedding in Changkat Jering.

Well, I guess I would keep this post and coming posts short and well illustrated because, I guess nothing beats nice photos right? Haha. Perasan habis. Sendiri say photos nice!

We went back to Taiping on Saturday night. The journey was surprisingly smooth, given that it was a long weekend. We chanced upon a few Bersih participants when we stopped for a short break. I wanted to say Thank You to them for standing up for our rights but didn’t manage to because the group was walking away when I got out from the toilet!

Simpang Hua Soon “Fireworks” Char Kueh Teow

The first thing we did when we reached Taiping, was to scout for this Char Kueh Teow. I guess this Simpang Char Kueh Teow is probably the first to use duck eggs. According to my aunt, duck eggs used to be cheaper back then and many people opted to have their CKT with chicken eggs because it was such a luxurious treat. Now, it’s back to duck eggs and duck eggs now are so expensive! The old uncle frying the kueh teow has nifty hands, alternating between frying, adding on charcoal and pulling a pulley which connects to the wheel of fan which fans the fire. It was really cool! My aunt read the mandarin words on his stall sign board. It says, “Simpang Hua Soon’s Fireworks Char Kueh Teow”. How apt! The sparks of fire from adding the charcoal indeed look like fireworks! He noticed I was snapping his photos so he grinned at me with his toothless mouth. Am certainly proud of Taiping local hospitality!

Fruits to make assam gelugor

The next day, another group of friends and family came to Taiping. We met up at the Larut Matang hawker center for food. What you may try here, I guess, you would have known by now as I’ve been blogging about Taiping trip a few times. So, we went about ordering the usual, the fishball char kueh teow, the pasembor and nyonya kuehs. We stopped by several places to snap photos. The Taiping War Cemetery, Maxwell Hill and the Lake Gardens, making a brief stop for cendol before we proceeded to Changkat Jering to attend an ex colleague’s wedding in Kampung Paya.

Random snapshots of Charcoal Factory

Mangrove Swamp

After attending the wedding, we proceeded to Charcoal Factory in Kuala Sepetang and also made a brief stop to visit the Mangrove Reserve. The Perhilitan has done a great job maintaining this area, I must say. We stopped by for a quick tea time snack – curry mee! and kon lou mee! before we proceeded to rest at my late grandmother’s house along Trump Road. Now only I noticed, the road is named Trump, even way before Donald Trump is known to us Malaysians. LOL!

Alrighty.. I will continue tomorrow, on Kedah to Perlis posts. Stay tuned!

Kuala Sepetang & Taiping: Revisited

Quiet Taiping Lake

Over the weekend, in order to appease someone’s insatiable appetite for Sepetang Kari Mee, I had to skip work and missed my sister’s food tasting for her wedding banquet to make a trip to Kuala Sepetang. Hahaha! No lah.. had to replace work this coming Saturday (yawns!) and buy my sister an expensive gift for her wedding later at someone’s expense.

Budding Lotus

Some records were set this time round. This makan trip would be in point form.

1. This is the first time we had so many times of duck meat and didn’t get bored. Duck leg noodles at Bidor, duck in dong guai and porridge at Kuala Sepetang and duck meat at the old Mandarin Cinema.

Dong guai duck! The ladies’ favorite!

2. I met 3 new friends at one go.😀

3. The group of 5 turned into group of 7 when Jasmine and colleague came to join us. Welcome!

4. Someone who doesn’t eat duck, coagulated pig’s blood and chicken feet, suddenly ended eating two out of three in this sitting. She didn’t want to try the chicken feet because maybe the chicken pijak tahi before it was being slaughtered. LOL.

5. Someone sudah slow down and cannot eat as much as he did last time. Or maybe he wanna jaga image. Cis!

Dusk in Taiping Lake

6. Three persons took turns to drive the car up down the North-South highway. Normally one kesian bugger would do the driving job.

7. This is the first time I felt ticklish/ joy/ calm to see a particular stuffed animal in the museum. (Private joke).

Robert Sandland through “astigmatized” lens

8. We knocked off at 10.30 pm on Saturday night because, basically there is nothing to do in Taiping at night.. and also we were wary of the recent clashes in Kamunting area. I wonder how’s the business in Jalan Eli Thamby on Saturday? Yuin, any ideas? LOL!

9. Small world. Everybody seems to be connected. My cousin brother knew a common friend of one of the makan buddy.

Monkeys at their best table manners

10. Someone “lost” his Touch n Go card for a few minutes and hit the panic button. Luckily the mangkok found it under his car seat and not jatuh inside the jamban during a pit stop. It has never happened before in any makan trips. I actually google to find out what will happen if we ever lost our touch n go card on toll exit but couldn’t find an answer. Any advice?

Green lungs of Kuala Sepetang

Oh yeah.. I forgot one more record.. the three stooges who sat behind the car managed to fasten their seatbelts in 5 seconds flat when my cousin brother and I shouted, “POLICE!” during a road block. LOL!

It's Our Turn!

Quiet town of Simpang

When we learned that our aunt was sick in Taiping on Wednesday, we asked her to go to the hospital. She said, there was a terrible jam going from Kuala Sepetang to Taiping because of the coming by election and it took nearly 3 hours to reach Taiping, so she decided to wait till the election day is over. We were stupefied because, it would normally take only 20 minutes to drive from Kuala Sepetang to Taiping, even if there are many cars!

We then came to realize that, the situation in Kuala Sepetang was really, really as hectic as we were told by our aunt. We went back to Taiping for Ching Ming this weekend. The moment we reached the Changkat Jering toll, it was already almost midnight.

The usually quiet and almost dead stretch of road in Changkat Jering to Simpang came alive with people and vehicles parked haphazardly along both sides of the road. There were many flags everywhere. There were even FRU trucks and fleet of police motorcycles. It was not even the election day yet and there were already so many cars and people.

We saw both ceramah places by PKR and PAS were filled to the brim with people standing till the sides of the roads. As we turned into Simpang towards Kuala Sepetang, flags were lined up from one end to another, even graves along the right sides of the roads were not spared!

Unusual busy road in Kuala Sepetang

I was rather shocked that the residents in this small, tiny fishing village were aware of what was going on and one old uncle even came to talk to me about RAHMAN theory. I found it rather impressive as, most of the people here are not highly educated but yet, they KNOW! We heard of the many free things being handed out – kgs of rice, free newspapers, money and even bicycles! And the villagers were disgusted!

They spoke fondly and with excitement about YB Ir Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin came to visit them just a day ago and shook their rough, weather beaten hands. Everybody swarmed YB Nizar’s car as he arrived and he was welcomed with open arms. Imagine the impossible – a PAS guy in a predominantly Chinese area – welcomed with open arms! It wouldn’t be possible in the old days with old school thinking! I could never imagine I would live today to witness changes in the people’s perceptions in today’s trying times. What we want now, is a harmonious country where all people are treated equally and really given freedom of religion and speech! And all races unite to build a greater nation!

The otherwise quiet road towards the small town Kuala Sepetang was packed with cars! For the first time, this place is jam-packed with cars and people. It was not THAT busy even during Chinese New Year!

Along Matang & Simpang

Sitting in the porch, listening to the people’s voices is definitely better than watching any afternoon Venezuelan soap opera! This weekend, I didn’t even need to watch tv to get entertained. Here, people from all walks of life – the cockles herder, the fruit seller, the newspapers seller, the dentist, the retiree, the fisherman, etc all sat together and spoke in unison of what they want out from this by election. We shall not tolerate anymore corruptions! No more telling us to go back to our own country! Malaysia is where we belong! We want transparent, responsible and capable leaders!

As I went back into my late grandmother’s house to get away from the afternoon sweltering heat, I was greeted with Louis Armstrong’s song – What a Wonderful World, blaring from the school behind. What other song could be more apt to describe how I felt at that moment! Century-long struggles of the black people has finally bore fruit, having President Obama be elected as the first black president! A wind of change has come! Now, it’s our turn.

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!