Friday, September 19, 2014

Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.3

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Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.3
Parit Buntar, Perak : 6th September 2014
Distance: 90.44 km. (Cycling distance= 59.64 km. & Boat Ride distance=30.84 km.)
Time : 5:45 am - 5:25 pm
Time Taken : 11 hrs. 40 mins. (including boat rides, stops for breakfast, 2 lunches, visits to cottage industries, rest, regrouping and photo opps.)

Route Recommendations :
1. Not much cycling for this part of our journey, we took the boats from Kuala Gula to Kuala Sangga and then onwards to Kuala Sepetang.
2. Kuala Sangga, a small fishing village can only be accessed by the sea and is rumoured to be a former pirate's haunt.
3. The rive mouth at Kuala Sepetang is good for photos of colourful fishing boats. A good place to take photos is a the mid-span of the new bridge over one of the tributaries.
4. Kuala Sepetang offers good tours to see nesting eagles, wading cranes and night time fire-flies.
5. Though there are several reasonably priced home-stays at Kuala Sepetang; we stayed at the Happy 8 Retreat. It's a quiet hotel, cozily done up and is suitable for taking a good rest from the rat race.
6. Taking up our bicycles onto boats speeding across the open sea is an experience not to be missed.

This blog comes in a few parts. This Day 2 Pt.3 blog, is on our journey from Kuala Sangga to Kuala Sepetang, where we will spend a night. To see other parts:


PRELUDE
Having had a good time & good food at Kuala Kurau, we rode to Kuala Gula and hopped onto four boats to head to our next destination - Kuala Sangga.
As we approached, Kuala Sangga, a thought passed through my mind - this place is reputed as a former pirates' haunt, are they still there, will it be safe? Oops, that's three thoughts... but you get what I feel.
From the map below, it is easy to see how this place was suitable for those "Yo..Ho..Ho" fellas. It's situated at the mouth of the river, in a cove so that it's sheltered from the storms but still has easy access to the open seas. Today as in the past, Kuala Sangga has no roads leading to it - it can only be reached by boats.
Okay.... enough mumblings... let's get on with our story.



THE RIDE


View Perak Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Ride (90.44 km) in a larger map 
Ride Route : Parit Buntar>Bagan Tiang>Tanjung Piandang>Kuala Kurau>Kuala Gula>Kuala Sangga>Kuala Sepetang
This REALLY is a multi-mode expedition. From Kuala Lumpur we took a night train up to Parit Buntar to start cycling. From Kuala Gula to Kuala Sangga and then onwards to Kuala Sepetang we were in boats. The following day, after cycling from Kuala Sepetang to Taiping we took a bus over to Ipoh for some riding there too. We then took the ETS train back to Tanjung Malim and then a taxi back to Kuala Lumpur.
Why not take the ETS all the way to Kuala Lumpur? Well, that's part of the story which you will find out about later.


4:15 pm - These days, the Straits of Malacca is very safe, it is one of the busiest sea channels in the world.... so now worries about pirates on this island. I scrub them from my thoughts and prepared to get down.
Kim was even more eager, jumping out from the boat, she helped pull the boat in and secure it to the moors.


Present days Kuala Sangga is a serene and quiet place, there are no taverns for a bottle of rum, but there are some stalls selling drinks and food. It's a settlement of a couple of rows or so of timber houses at the seaside with a small hill behind it. There are no pirates here these day, but perhaps there could be pirate's treasures buried in the hills, who know?


Prawns left out to be sun-dried to make salted dried prawns.
Industry on the island is fishing, catering to the occasional tourists (like us) and some swallow bird nest culture & harvesting.
The fishermen's catch are sent to the mainland with some balance (of poorer catch) retained to make salted fish & prawns.


On a wall of one of the coffee-shops here hags a sketch by a Taiwanese tourist, it show how small a community this village is.


As the geography of this locality is mainly mangrove swarms, the whole village sits on stilts. A central concrete walkway spans the length of the village with timber houses lining both sides.


Some of the houses seems to have been abandoned; I do hope that this is will not be a continuing trend, it will be a pity to see this village disappear.


There are a couple of small Chinese temples, a small school and I was surprised to find a small catholic church here to. It's the St. Anne's Church, a single storey one that can seat about fifty, and is one of the few concrete buildings on these island. Curiously, there are now no Catholics on the island and yet the residents maintain the church, light candles and make offerings. They believe that St. Anne protects them and this most evident during Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. The approaching tsunami waves suddenly diverted away from the village and it was saved.


We met this man walking around barefooted, delivering mail to the residents while on one hand he was holding on to a couple of crabs. Huh? He deliver crabs too?


This cute little girl was playing Peek-a-Boo with us. With few children her age her, she was probably feeling bored. Happy to see new faces but at the same time shy; she lingered around us, covered her face, gave us smiles and then covered her face again.


4:50 pm - Leaving Kuala Sangga we sailed onwards, away from the open sea and into the Sungai Sangga Besar river to head to Kuala Sepetang. We are into the mangrove swamps area. Most of the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is covered by mangrove swamps. This was a good thing as these swamps slowed down the approaching waves during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 and buffered the inland from it's devastating effect.


The Larut Matang District here is one of the most well known area for mangroves; perhaps the large deltas with its islands is a boon for the mangroves to grow. Much of the mangroves are harvested for the manufacturing of charcoal at the many charcoal factories. These factories still use centuries-old methods.
With the constant harvesting of the trees for charcoal, new mangroves have to be replanted and it takes thirty years for the trees to mature. As we sailed inland we passed by several replanted areas, virgin mangrove forests with younger trees growing sparsely. As the trees mature it will have many branches spreading out and also many roots digging into the swamp, the it will look dense.


5:25 pm - After half an hour of sailing in the river, we approached Kuala Sepetang. The place don't seem to have changed much except for this ebony black building next to the jetty.
When my buddy Tailim (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) & me did a cycle strolling here a year back, two more floors were being added to this building. Now it is completed with the new floors housing the Happy 8 Retreat, the place that some of us will be staying for the night.


Getting down at the jetty, I was most glad to see Khee & Nellie. Locals to the area, they had been waiting to greet us when we arrived.
We had got to know each other through my blogs and have first met up during the Taiping Heritage Fun Ride about six months ago. We have been friends since then.


While Khee & Nellie patiently waited; we went to check into the hotel.
Happy 8 Retreat Hotel is an odd place, the entrance at the ground floor is through a fishing cold room warehouse; a place slightly wet and with the smell of the sea. It's not an easy place to find as at the ground floor there are no signages, in fact Khee had some difficulty finding it.
I guess that's part of it's concept as a retreat to ensure the privacy of it's patrons.


The industrial look entrance camouflage and belie a classy and cosy interior.
At the waiting lobby, large armchairs carved from timber trunks sit on timber strip flooring.
All around the hotel are painted murals in blue theme, a colour that add to the soothing and calming setting of this retreat hotel.



The bedrooms are on the 2nd & 3rd floors with corridors leading to them painted with wild life.


The bedrooms with comfortable beds have a similar calming theme. The entrance door for each room has a painted icon of marine-life or bird-life to identify them. Mine had a cute yellow puffer fish (... more of Happy 8 Retreat here).
Okay, enough admiring of the hotel; better get back to my waiting friends.


Cyclists friends at the mid-span of the bridge over Sungai Reba.
Another friend, Winson had also arrived at Kuala Sepetang earlier today. Together with his wife and son, they have drove down to join our group for the ride to Taiping the following day.
Khee was eager to show us the new bridge over the nearby Sungai Reba, and led the six of us on a ride over there.



From the mid-span of the bridge, the view of colourful trawler boats lining both sides of the river is very scenic; one of post-card quality. Now, I can understand why Khee was eager to bring us here.


Khee also took us over to the renown Kuala Sepetang Curry Noodles stall, the one opposite the famous "Port Weld" sign.
Although I would be having dinner again soon, I could not help trying it out. It's similar to the Penang style - one with thin coconut milk AND cubes of coagulated pig's blood.
Back at the hotel, Khee and his missus left us to have time with our other friends. Many thanks Khee, we will see you tomorrow.


After a badly needed bath, I joined my friends for dinner at the Kang Kao Seafood Restaurant. It's conveniently located at the first floor of our hotel building and shares the same ground floor entrance.


We are at a fishing village, so naturally at this restaurant we ordered seafood to take advantage of the pricing and freshness.


Among the dishes we had was this interesting prawn curry served in a large bun which is shaped as a large gourd. The large prawns in the excellent curry made a few of us go for second round of rice.
Oh... by the way, the bread-shaped gourd can be eaten, tear pieces from it a dip it into the curry.


This ferocious looking grouper made was steamed with a oil-soy sauce poured over. The fish was fresh and the simply sauce just enhance it without overpowering it's good taste (... read more at Makanan Laut Kang Kao here).


The fire-ly watching tour boat is as colourful and bright as the fireflies.
After dinner we went for a walk hoping to do some shopping at the local night market. Unfortunately past 9:00 pm the traders had already packed up and the market was already closed.
Some of us were tempted to go for the firefly watching boat tour; but then we had had a tiring day and tomorrow we will be riding again. So let's call it a night.


From my bedroom balcony I looked at the river, took in its serene calmness before popping into bed.
~GOOD NIGHT~



This blog comes in a few parts. This Day 2 Pt.3 blog, is on our journey from Kuala Sangga to Kuala Sepetang, where we will spend a night. To see other parts:


Related Blogs:






Salted Duck Egg Factory @ Kuala Kurau, Perak : September 2014
A look at how the humble salted duck egg is made at a cottage industry.



You May Also Like :



Malaysia - Street Art of Gopeng, Perak : July 2014 
The street art culture is spreading and is now budding in Gopeng.

Gaharu Tea Valley, Gopeng, Perak : July 2014
A 22-year old plantation of the precious agarwood, now only becoming renown through eco-tourism.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.3    | Go to Day 1 / Day 2 Pt.1 / Day 2 Pt.2
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.2

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.2    | Go to Day 1 / Day 2 Pt.1 / Day 2 Pt.3
                                    AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                      
Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.2
Parit Buntar, Perak : 6th September 2014
Distance: 90.44 km. (Cycling distance= 59.64 km. & Boat Ride distance=30.84 km.)
Time : 5:45 am - 5:25 pm
Time Taken : 11 hrs. 40 mins. (including boat rides, stops for breakfast, 2 lunches, visits to cottage industries, rest, regrouping and photo opps.)

Route Recommendations :
1. Being at the coastal area, the route is relatively flat.
2. We were riding during the rainy weather and the rain clouds afforded us shade. But I can imagine that the padi field section would be hot during the dry season.
3. The river mouths with fishing boats is scenic, stop to take photos!
4. Eventhough it was drizzling when we rode through the padi fields, they still look nice in the rain.
5. At these smaller towns, the locals are warm and friendly. Food is also relatively cheap, and surprisingly some are better than those found in the big cities..
6. Do stop to view the bridge spanning over the Sungai Kurau river at Kuala Kurau.
7. An interesting place to visit is the Joo Chan Salted Duck Egg Factory.
8. Don't miss the most delicious prawn fritters at Kuala Kurau, it comes with a bonus of good iced frothy white coffee.
9. Taking up our bicycles onto boats speeding across the open sea is an experience not to be missed.

This blog comes in a few parts. This Day 2 Pt.2 blog, is on our journey from Kuala Kurau to Kuala Sangga. To see other parts:

PRELUDE
We had eagerly started off in the wee hours of the morning from Parit Buntar; an early thunderstorm and a wet ride on part of our route did not dampen our spirit.
After a good dim sum breakfast at Tanjung Piandang, we encountered a muddy bund road that was impossible to ride on. Although some chickened out riding on this bund road (including yours truly); most of us bravely pushed on through the soft muddy road till we reached the main roads.
Now we have arrived at Kuala Kurau but can't seem to locate a renown foodie place.



THE RIDE


View Perak Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Ride (90.44 km) in a larger map 
Ride Route : Parit Buntar>Bagan Tiang>Tanjung Piandang>Kuala Kurau>Kuala Gula>Kuala Sangga>Kuala Sepetang
This REALLY is a multi-mode expedition. From Kuala Lumpur we took a night train up to Parit Buntar to start cycling. From Kuala Gula to Kuala Sangga and then onwards to Kuala Sepetang we were in boats. The following day, after cycling from Kuala Sepetang to Taiping we took a bus over to Ipoh for some riding there too. We then took the ETS train back to Tanjung Malim and then a taxi back to Kuala Lumpur.
Why not take the ETS all the way to Kuala Lumpur? Well, that's part of the story which you will find out about later.


KT went over to a house (opposite where we were waiting) to enquire about our lunch place, a renown prawn fritter outlet. The ladies there were preparing lor bak (Chinese meat rolls) for a wedding in the evening. The wedding will be the traditional small village "terng tok" (long table) style. Guests coming for the dinner will be seated at long tables (i.e. at the red tents where the rest of us were waiting) to eat. There is no fixed time to come for the dinner other than a start time and end time, guest can come anytime in between as food is continuously served.
Unfortunately, these local ladies themselves were not very certain about where our lunch destination was, mentioning that it was somewhere over the other side of the river.


12:00 noon : Seeing that we were hungry (the morning's dim sum had been zapped away by our cold ride), we headed for a nearby food-court to eat. The food was just okay only, but the balcony of the food court gave a beautiful view of the Kurau River mouth.
Our stopping there was a blessing in disguise as out of the blues our knights in shining armour (actually two guys on a motor-cycle) arrived and approached KT. They were local cyclists from the Kuala Kurau Cycling Club and their cycling camaraderie was aroused on seeing so many of us out-of-town cyclists. The good thing is that they know where the prawn fritter stall was!


On their motorcycle, Kung & his buddy led us to the Joo Hong Chan salted duck egg factory, where the owners were happy to show us around and gave us a brief on how the salted eggs were made. It's interesting that our cycling adventures lead us to places like this where we learn a little bit more of our country and a little bit more of our culture.
(...  click here read more of the salted duck egg factory).


Our knights then led us across a pedestrian bridge that will lead us over to the other side of the Sungai Kurau river. This bridge is still new and it is not shown on the maps. No wonder the GPS went cranky.


Across the bridge, we were cycling on narrow village roads, roads that gave us peeps into the beauty that lies behind the houses.


Finally and with great anticipation we reached the shop. It's somewhere near a temple with a great view of the road bridge over the Sungai Kurau river. I have plotted the location on the above map, it's a secluded place so hopefully I got it correct.


This place serve the best Cucur Udang (Prawn Fritters) that most of us have ever eaten. The Cucur Udang were thick and filled with fresh soft-shelled shrimps, turnips & chives.
You must be wondering what that plate of yellow Chinese noodle is doing here?


It's the local style of eating; wrap the yellow noodles around a quarter cut of the Cucur Udang and them dip into their nice chilli sauce....
and then.... YummY!


Here they also serve sea-food Curry Noodles, filled with cockles, shrimps, squid, slices of fish and some strips of boiled pre-dried pork skin. Again the small shrimps are served together with their soft shells and head too, interestingly they were easy to bite into - the shells are that soft!
(... read more of Kuala Kurau's Cucur Udang)


And one last secret they let us into - one of the bestest iced white coffee that I have ever tried. Our local friends claim that this is better than those from the coffee bars, I must agree with them whole-stomachely..... er..... I mean whole-heartedly.

Eating there also gave us a nice panoramic view of the road bridge over the Sungai Kurau river...


... a peek of colourful dragons statues atop a nearby temple roof.


Our new Kuala Kurau friends :  王梃炎王梃炎 and Kung Khang Ming.
Went it came to paying for the food, we found out that our new-found friends had already settled the bill and despite our polite objections, they did not want any repayment.


2:10 pm - We left the small town with fond memories, we have indeed been very warmly welcomed in Kuala Kurau.

Our knights have now turned guardian angels and escorted us all the way from their town to Route A100 to ensure that all went well with us.
Thank you, my friends. You all have been wonderful hosts.


3:00 pm - We turned into a road that will lead us to the Kuala Gula Jetty.
Hey! There's a bird sanctuary here! We are on a tight schedule, the bird sanctuary will have to wait for another day.


At the jetty, our boats were there ready and waiting for us. We quickly folded our bikes and boarded; it's only four to five of us per boat as they had to fit in our bikes too.


Our four boats went a short distance down the estuary and then headed out to the open sea.
I have taken my bike onto small ferries and speed-boats to Pulau Ketam; onto ferries sailing the Mekong River and even onto long-boats at Taman Negara. But this will be a first for me and probably for most of my buddies - speeding along on this small boats on a 30 km. ride in the open sea. On this boats we will be heading to Kuala Sangga and then onwards to Kuala Sepetang.


To top it all, our boats were overtaking and criss-crossing each other. We were having as much fun riding on the boats while waving and shouting at each other.


Approaching Kuala Sangga, we saw these red pyramid roof buildings floating in the sea; these are chalets for tourists. An interesting concept.


4:15 pm - After more than an hour's sailing and as we neared the Kuala Sangga jetty, a thought popped into my mind.
Kuala Sangga is rumoured to be a former pirate's haunt, are there still pirates there?
Dare we disembark?





This blog comes in a few parts. This Day 2 Pt.2 blog, is on our journey from Kuala Kurau to Kuala Sangga. To see other parts:
click here for Day 2 Pt.3: Kuala Sangga to Kuala Sepetang.


Related Blogs:




Salted Duck Egg Factory @ Kuala Kurau, Perak : September 2014
A look at how the humble salted duck egg is made at a cottage industry.


You May Also Like :





Malaysia - Street Art of Gopeng, Perak : July 2014 
The street art culture is spreading and is now budding in Gopeng.



You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Perak : Parit Buntar Fishing Villages Day 2 Pt.2    | Go to Day 1 / Day 2 Pt.1 / Day 2 Pt.3
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)