Thursday, June 20, 2019

Selangor: Sri Damansara To Sungai Buloh - The Cambodian Village Ride

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Selangor: Sri Damansara To Sungai Buloh - The Cambodian Village Ride
Sri Damansara to Kg. Kubu Gajah, Sg. Buloh : Saturday 4th May 2019
Cycling Distance - 32 km.     Level: Hard (Would have been medium except for some steep grandfather slopes)
Time : 7:30am to 1:15pm
Time Taken :  5 hrs.  45 mins. (inclusive of stops for breakfast, lunch, visits to Cambodian Village, rest, regrouping, and lots of photo opps).

Route Recommendations :
1. The route is fairly flat except for the stretches around Sierramas and steep slopes at Kg. Sungai Pelong. It is quite shady until the section after the Kg. Baru Sg. Buloh which has little shade and gets quite hot.
2. Weather can get rather hot from late morning to mid-afternoon, so do cover up or use sun-block lotions.
3. Places of Interest:
    The Sungai Buloh Cambodian Village (GPS: 3.19014, 101.52915) at Kg Kubu Gajah.
4. Food
- Breakfast: Hawker fare at Restaurant Gong Zen (GPS: 3.20161, 101.59361) in Desa Aman Puri.
- Morning Tea: Cambodian noodles, snacks at the Cambodian Village (GPS: 3.19014, 101.52915).
- Lunch: Chinese dishes with rice/noodles at Jeff Lee Kitchen (GPS: 3.19737, 101.56939) in Kg Baru Sg Buloh.
- Coffee Time at Beam Specialty (GPS: 3.20395, 101.61588) in Sri Damansara.


Cycling on the tall viaducts of the un-completed Rawang By-pass.
I always like cycling with the Cikgus - Cikgu Chin & Cikgu Liliana; their rides are always fun, bringing us to interesting and beautiful places on well planned itineraries along routes which are usually off the busy main roads.
The last time I rode with them was a while ago, on a Rawang to Serendah loop that took us on top of the awe-inspiring tall viaducts of an uncompleted Rawang By-pass Highway.

This time round, our destination arose from an error I made while accompanying our buddy Sin partway on his round Peninsular Malaysia Ride. We had passed by Kg. Kubu Gajah, saw a market where there where some Cambodian traders. This got me all excited as I had frequently cycled in Cambodia previously. I had identified this place as the Sungai Buloh Cambodian Village MarketYes, not many may know it, but there is a Cambodia in Malaysia!
"Sorry. You're wrong." Cikgu Chin remarked, "That's not THE Cambodian Village Market, it's just a local market with a few of Cambodian stalls. Come I will show you in our next ride."
And that's how this ride came about..... and where's THAT elusive Cambodian Village Market? And what's this about grandfather slopes? Let's read and find out.....

The route starts from the suburbian Sri Damansara going pass the up-market residential area of Sierramas. And then out to kampungs of Paya Jaras, hitting steep grand-father slopes at Kg. Sungai Pelong before reaching the Cambodian Village at Kg. Baru Sg. Buloh. Return loop via Kg. Baru Sg. Buloh is flat but quite unshaded.
Cycling Distance - 32 km.     Level: Hard (Would have been medium but for the steep grandfather slopes)

The turn out was good, all in 42 of us including yours truly. And the moment we rolled off, it was onto warming-up dragon-backs at Desa Aman. The roads here were narrow but fortunately traffic was light. Cikgu Chin had planned well, trying to avoid as much of busy roads as possible. A few days earlier we had met, and together wit Cikgu Lilian, had gone on a recce drive, well it was not so much a recce for him but for me. See, he was already familiar with this route that will take us to the Bamboo River as he affectionately called Sungai Buloh (it's a direct translation from Malay to English, "buloh" means bamboo).
Yes, it's not going to be an easy route; one that will take us to more than the Mother of all slopes, one that will take us to the Grandfather of Slopes and more!

A quick stop at Desa Aman for a group photo. Desa Aman has a couple of shops that are renown for good crabs, especially those salted duck egg ones.

After a half-hour warm up of the gentle undulating slopes it was time for breakfast. Eats was at Restaurant Gong Zen. It's a restaurant in the evening, and in the morning it's a.... COFFEE SHOP! One with several stalls selling an assortment of noodles, etc.  Some of us had this fish ball soup with green cuts of bitter gourd which has several health benefits including reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. I like it too, especially in a soup with lots of pepper, the pepperish bite sort of complementing or balancing the bitter tang of the gourd. Of course health freaks will say the more bitter the better!

Another memorable group shot at the Sierramas entrance signboard, its a huge one that made us look like tiny ants!
We won't be riding into that prestigious guarded township but instead took a road that skirted its south-western boundary.

Right at the end of that road was a short stretch of off-road riding, it's a short-cut for us to continue on to a short stretch on busy Jalan Hospital.

Here are my buddies, all happy riding along the rural roads.... not knowing what lies ahead...  we knew but won't tell them, let them have a good surprise 😂.

Ahead we met steep slopes which the Cikgu called the Father of Slopes; then even steeper Grandfather slopes. It was fun though, taking on those slopes and then going whooshing down and up the next one .....

... until we hit a really long stretch of the steepest one - THE GREAT-GRANDFATHER OF ALL SLOPES!
Almost all of us could not ride up it and humbly came down to push half-way up.

Steep slopes are not the only thing at this area which is called Kampong Sungai Plong; there are many driving schools here and even a road named Jalan Driving School!
Perhaps these steep slopes are good for testing the student drivers!

A Cambodian lady running a stall that sells Cambodian noodles, broth, etc.
10:15am - After traversing several kampongs at Paya Jaras, we reach Jalan Gajah 23. It is here that the Cambodian Village Market is located. The area within a kilometer or two around here is the Cambodian Village. These days, most of the houses are brick houses; but when the Cambodians first came here, their houses were timber houses. Nowadays, they have assimilated into the local culture: dressing like the locals and even speaking Malay; making them often indistinguishable from the locals. Driving pass here, one would think this area as any local Malay community. It is only when one slows down that one notices things like shops selling food that looks different, signboards in Khmer Language and even hearing people talking in Khmer Language.
(Note: market photo credits - Cikgu SC Chin)

We walked around the market; it's not that busy today with only a few stalls around. On Sundays, it's the busiest, with push-cart stalls lining up even the middle of the road.
The Cambodians came here in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Most of them were refugees running away from a war-torn country and were interned at refugee camps in Thailand and Malaysia. Most of the refugees were re-settled to other hosting countries; and the Malaysian Government on their part accepted many Muslim Cambodian (most of whom were Cham people from the Kampong Cham Province) and helped them reside here.
Most the villager worked in factories or as taxi drivers. Some, he added, sold agricultural products and other items at the market, like the above Cambodian Pancake (called Banh Chhev, which is something like the Vietnamese Bánh xèo). The residents still used the Khmer language to communicate with each other, watched Cambodian TV programmes, read Cambodian magazines, and sang Cambodian karaoke songs. Most of them can speak Bahasa Malaysia, and the some of the older ones can speak a bit of French. The community have been here for so long that there are families with a third generation staying here,

It's really an eye-opening experience strolling through this market. The Cambodians eat lots of salad greens, and some of which we considered weeds are delicacies to them.

A stall selling a Cambodian favourite - Twa Koh, beef sausages. Behind the lady vendor, on a table, are bottles of Cambodian pickled fruits.

Salted fish is often displayed in a round starry pattern. The Cambodian salted fish is slightly wet and very much different from the Malaysian dry type. The wetness sort of ferment the fish slightly and which goes well towards the making of a Cambodian favourite - Prahok (ប្រហុក), a fermented fish paste.

On a large piece of zinc roofing sheet, “liah” (salted clams) a being sun-dried.

Something more exotic - brine-pickled baby crabs (ក្តាមប្រៃ, ktamobrai).

And a legacy from the French, escargot. In Khmer it's called khyang (ខ្យង).

One of the Cikgus trying out the khyang; they are getting to be quite a aficionado of Cambodian cuisine.

And for desserts, there is the popular fruit dip (dteuk Ka Pik). These one shows young mangos, tamarind, etc.

Our buddy, Patrick, is really getting himself immersed in the Cambodian culture here: eating a hot bowl of Cambodian Chicken Broth (Borbor Sach Mouan) while at the same time laying his hand onto some salad greens.
The odd thing is that we did not see any Num Phang (baguette) being sold here, Perhaps it's becauuse Num Phang usually containg pork luncheon meat, which is not halal.

As we rode off, criss-crossing through several Malay kampongs, a group of 'mosquito' bikers were waiting for us.

We called them "mosquito" bikers because like the insect they were quite fast and came buzzing around us, often baiting us to race. These group were quite well behaved, and just escorted us until Kg. Baru Sg. Buloh ....

..... where we stopped at Jeff Lee Kitchen to have lunch. Jeff is one of the favourite eateries in Sungai Buloh and the place is often packed for lunch and dinner during the weekends. Fortunately we had made reservations.
This restaurant have a good range of delicious dishes. We started off with a light minced pork congee that also had small cuts of "Thousand Year" eggs. In ancient days, these eggs were made by pickling and seasoning them in "horse urine". These days they don't use urine anymore but use some kind of alkaline solution... I do seriously hope that's the case as I can't really imagine how horse urine will smell or taste like!

Another of their favorite is the "Long Live" noodles, these are long "sang mee" noodles cooked with mince pork in a light stew.
And then there is this "Standing Chicken", a chicken (or sometimes duck) roasted in a standing position with a skewer helping it stand upright.
"Come to Daddy! Muaks... muaks!", Chye seems to be calling out to the chicken.

Dessert were Mango Mochi, mango wrapped in chewy glutinous rice and coated with grated coconut.

Instead of taking a large loop back through the rural roads, we decided to take a quicker route riding single-file up a flyover along Jalan Sungai Buloh to cut down into Jalan Kuala Selangor somewhere near the Sungai Buloh MRT Station.

From there it was a quick 20 minutes ride back to Beam Specialty were some of us adjourned for a quick round of their nice coffee.

Many thanks Cikgus Chin & Liliana for another wonderful ride. Till we again say:

(that's hello & how are you in Cambodian)


For more photos of the ride, Click Here.

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