Pulau Pangkor Revisited

8th – 9th April 2012, Sunday to Monday

After our brief stop in Penang for Ching Ming and catching up with relatives, the family decided to visit Pulau Pangkor as most of them haven’t been there or had been there many years ago. I went to Pulau Pangkor once for some church camp back in 1993, I think. Wow! Some 19 years ago!

I made a hotel booking via Agoda for a place to stay. We decided to stay a night in Lumut in order not to be rushed into getting to Pulau Pangkor to catch the last ferry at 8.30 pm since we were already traveling up north to Penang and Kedah and back to Port Weld on the same day! It was hectic! We decided to visit Pulau Pangkor for a one day trip.

We got onto the trunk road from Taiping via Kuala Kangsar to Manong and finally reached Lumut in about 2.5 hours. If we were to take Bidor route ex the North-South highway, it would be too far away. It’s like going one big round then back! Thank goodness for google map, which made things easier! We basically tracked our movement via google map till our destination. It’s cool!

We went to check into our hotel at this GM Holiday Inn. It’s a small budget hotel which is clean, comfortable and comes with wi-fi! A bonus point! However, I was staying with my mom and aunt in the family room together with the little monster Ern Ern downstairs at the Family Room and the wi-fi connection kinda failed there. Sis, husband and another cousin and dad stayed upstairs, and wi-fi was good there! Since it’s a budget hotel, there’s no complimentary coffee/tea or mineral water. But it has an electric kettle in the room and you can buy your own coffee/tea outside from the reception at RM1 each, which is rather reasonable!

We went to the Tua Pek Kong temple again in Pasir Panjang, Sitiawan since mom and aunt haven’t been there. We hung out for awhile till it started to drizzle. It was already almost 7 pm when we decided to go for dinner. Our friend took us to this shop at Kampung Cina, famous for seafood. Dinner was okay. After dinner, we went around for a short ride around Lumut town to check out the night life. Since it was a Sunday night, the town was rather quiet and sleepy. It has been a long journey from Taiping, so we decided to go back to our hotel for an early night cap and be prepared for the next day.

Trying out the new feature in wordpress.. do tell if you  guys prefer static photos or this one?

The next morning, we went to have roti canai and teh tarik before heading towards the jetty to take a ride to Pangkor Island. You may park your car at nearby multi-tiered car park. I guess we were lucky because since it was a Monday, there wasn’t a long queue at the ticketing counter. There are 3 ticketing companies to choose from but I guess it doesn’t make any difference because you get to hop onto any ferry that is waiting at the jetty to get to your destination. We chose Pan Silver Ferry – RM10 for adults and RM5 for children for a return ticket (Same price for all ferries!). According to the website, ferries depart every 30 minutes starting from 6.30 am to 8.30 pm daily.

The journey would take about 30 minutes, with a brief stop after 20 minutes at one destination, which I couldn’t identify. But the place looked somewhat like Pulau Ketam. Not many people would get off here, except for some individuals who work at this place. Saw a nurse alighting here, perhaps she just got back from her night shift from the hospital in Lumut?

The ferry finally docked at Pulau Pangkor jetty and we were greeted by the clear blue sea! I was surprised to find Pangkor this clean after 19 years! As far as I could remember, the sea water wasn’t this clean then! So, it was a pleasant surprise.

As soon as we got into the arrival hall, we were greeted by many touts, asking us to hire their cars or motorbikes for a day for only RM60. Unfortunately, since we are a family of 7, we would need to hire a van but there wasn’t any van for rental. We settled for a pink van, with a driver. Eventhough it was stated in the banner that, they would only take you around the island for 2 hours for RM80, the man told us that, it’s up to us. If we want to go for a swim then, he could give us his phone number and he would come to fetch us once we are done with swimming, at no extra charges.

Since we didn’t bring a change of clothes and it wouldn’t make sense also to be swimming in the hot afternoon sun, we said, we would like to just go-see the island. The man said, 2 hours is actually more than enough to round the island and he was right!

We were taken to the Dutch Fort – nothing much really, just a small brick fort. Then we were taken to a temple where a miniature Great Wall is. I remember this Great Wall because I took a photo 19 years ago! Hahaha! Here, at the Chinese temple, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name, they rear huge arowana fishes and you could feed them, if only you bring your own bread lah. There were also some tortoises there. It was a quiet and small temple.

Next, we were taken to the satay factory where you get to see how the very much loved fish satay is made. My mom said the prices were rather steep so we didn’t buy anything. Actually, we could even buy fish satay back in KL! However, the view at the back of the satay factory was rather nice, so I took a picture there. The people working at the satay factory were a friendly lot, so I asked them for permission to snap their photos and they obliged.

After a short stop at the fish satay factory, we were taken to another temple, they called it the Kuan Yin temple or Lin Je Kong. The temple is overlooking a rather picturesque Pangkor sea. We spent a considerable amount of time here as Ern Ern was catching up with her nap, while the others prayed and sought their fortune here. We kinda regretted that we didn’t bring a change of clothes because the crystal clear waters near this temple was beguiling.. we almost wanted to jump right into it to quench the heat!

It was a little over two hours and we decided to go back to Lumut. Since we had a late brunch, we weren’t hungry but, as soon as we reached the jetty in Lumut, some of them complained being hungry so we drove back to Sitiawan town for a bite before hitting home to KL.

All in all, it was rather a pleasant trip despite being overly hectic. The next time we visit Pangkor Island, I guess we would put up a night or two in the island itself so we could spend time doing nothing but to bask in the sun and play in the sea water all day long!

Sitiawan Revisited

6th February 2012, Monday

I was awaken from sleep when a friend suggested to visit Sitiawan so last minute. My aunt supposed to be going to Pulau Ketam but I didn’t want to go because there would be a crazy crowd there for the weekend. Anyhow, she suddenly changed her mind and wanted to go to Sitiawan instead. I got up and took bath, ate late breakfast and waited for the rest to get ready. We took the new highway towards PLUS, using the LATAR highway. It was a hot, beautiful blue skies day.

The cone shaped joss

The purpose of the trip is to pay a visit to the Tua Pek Kong temple at the end of Pasir Panjang. Not knowing the way, we whipped out our GPS for guidance, asked a local on getting there and we got there in no time. The temple is still under renovation but we could see that they have cleared the mangrove swamp area overlooking the Straits of Malacca. I wish we come here in the late evenings as 3 pm afternoon is too hot to take photos.

The cleared mangrove swamp area overlooking the sea

It was reported in some Chinese newspapers that, many came to this temple to seek for fortune. You got it! Asking for numbers to strike it big at Jackpots and 4Ds. However, this was not our main agenda coming to this temple. We pray for smooth operation for our little nephew, Hansen who will  be going for open heart surgery tomorrow. And I also pray for safety and peace for family and friends. Our family has gone through so much the past few years.

The many gods figurines in front of the temple

After a short visit to the temple, we met up with Meehoon Queen. She took us for a very late lunch at nearby seafood restaurant. Everywhere was jammed packed and most places are closed due to Chap Goh Meh. So people, it’s better not to go anywhere during Chap Goh Meh because you won’t be getting anything to eat! We managed to try some kong piah at the Tua Pek Kong temple. They were cold already, so a little stiff. How I wish we had gone to the shop itself to eat kong piah.. but I guess since it’s Chap Goh Meh, probably the shop was not open either.

We went to visit the meehoon factory. This is my second time visiting Meehoon Queen’s factory. My family and friends had a blast, checking out the processes and also, monkeying around. I hope we didn’t give our host too much trouble!

Teluk Batik, Sitiawan

After the visit to meehoon factory, we visited an ex colleague in Sitiawan as well. He took us to Teluk Batik, the beach in Sitiawan which I totally forgotten about it! I think I visited this place 10 years ago! 10  years ago, there were nothing much. Simply the beach with a few holiday chalets which looked rather haunted! And some small shops along the beach. The place has been transformed equipped with many modern facilities. Of course, I think I still prefer it to be free from buildings and places lending floats and tyres… but I guess, this is part of the development. Nearby, there is a dive center, the Marina where you could take up diving license from PADI.

Teluk Batik, Sitiawan

So, we just ended the trip here. I think it was good, given that we didn’t even plan for anything. Just go with the flow! I guess it’s cool to end the Chinese New Year for 2012!

Destination: Sitiawan/Teluk Intan

The day began with light breakfast at the Tiara Coffee House. Hot Momma waited for us at McDonalds’ and off we went to have a second breakfast for the day.

The heavenly Bak Kut Teh

We fancied some Bak Kut Teh and this is simply delicious. I cannot remember the name of the shop, but it’s along the road in Tmn Aman Muhibbah. We ordered a small steamed pomfret to go with the BKT and the usual yao choy. Even Mr I-am-not-fussy-I-am-particular gave his stamp of approval. The growing boy -Sailor Boy had two helpings of rice.

Packing Tau Sar Piah

After the scrumptious breakfast, we made our way to buy some seafood stuffs and mee sua, in which what Sitiawan is famous for. Along the way, we saw many pre-war buildings converted into nesting ground for swallows, where the expensive bird nests are produced. Sitiawan has many home industries and this is possibly one of the most expensive. They have famous pastries and cookies and we were spoilt for choice. We went on a shopping frenzy.

Kong Piah

After that, we went to try the delectable kong piah. As it was a Sunday, there weren’t many shops open, surprisingly. We had the second best – according to Hot Momma and it tasted somewhat good. I could still remember I had my first kong piah some 10 years ago when I went to Sitiawan with another friend. It was simply unforgettable. This one is not that bad. It’s quite torturing to be eating the freshly baked kong piah under the sun, sweating away profusely. We then decided to quench our thirst at the famous cendol along Jalan Lumut.

Temple along Jalan Lumut

*Mr James Muniandy

The famous cendol stall next to the temple along Jalan Lumut is manned by Mr James Muniandy and his wife. Because of his delicious cendol, Mr James was summoned by the Sultan Perak to prepare his much loved cendol for 250 guests in the palace. You can easily spot Mr James Muniandy. He is always wearing a white chef hat and a red bow tie. The cendol is such a delight to ravish on a scorching hot Sunday afternoon.

Some of us had second helpings of the cendol and our stomachs already hit the maximum capacity. We decided to take a break and went to Sharon’s mee hoon factory. This was probably the highlight of the day. Here, we were ushered personally by Sharon and learn how mee hoon is being produced [and also which worker(s) is sleeping with which worker(s) – muahahahahah]. After the educational tour around the factory, we were given souvenirs in forms of packets of mee hoon. Hahhaha! Thanks Sharon for being so generous!

White mee hoon

Furnace to boil water, using timber

After the mee hoon “prize presentation” (I took quite a lot as if our country is going to declare state of emergency soon), we went on to this seafood restaurant called Villa in Kampung Cina to have our lunch. Since we were still stuff till our necks of the food since morning, we decided to go light. Had only 3 dishes and they were simply heaven.

Pahat-pahat in oyster sauce

Sizzling calamari in curry

Marmite Crabs

We went to Teluk Intan to check out the leaning tower. This 6-storey pagoda-like structure was built in 1885 by contractor and philanthropist Leong Choon Chong. There is a road named after him nearby. For more description, please click here.

*Leaning tower

Took some pictures and went to hunt high and low for Teluk Intan Chee Cheong Fun but unfortunately, the shop only opens at 7 pm. In Teluk Intan, we saw groups of elderly people crowding together in coffee shops to bet on horses. We didn’t know how was it done but we could see money changing hands. These people are seriously hard core betters. Isn’t this a great past time? Squabbling over a cup of hot coffee and some kuih muih on horse racing with like-minded hard core gamblers to kill time. Ah, bliss.

Since the Chee Cheong Fun stall will only open at 7 pm, we dropped by the river near the town and took some pictures. We decided to call it a day and returned to Kuala Lumpur. Along the way, we stopped by Bidor again and had some dinner before we continue the journey to KL.

*The yummy duck thigh noodles

It was indeed tiring just thinking of the food we just had. I don’t mind repeating this but not for the time being. I guess I would need to fast for a few weeks to flush out the toxins off my body before taking blood test.

All in all, it was a good trip with great food, awesome company and a fabulous host. We couldn’t thank Sharon enough for being such a generous and accommodating (especially to Mr Ketchup with his unique preferences – I-am-not-fussy-I-am-particular) host.

P.S. Pics marked with asterix are courtesy from Mr Ketchup aka – I-am-not-fussy-I-am-particular. Thanks!

Destination: Sitiawan

You must be thinking I had gone mad for going on a road trip back-to-back for the past few days… well, you are right. As I am typing this, I am suffering some a mild ingestion. But this trip is worth every mouthful.

We drove to Sitiawan on drizzly Saturday evening, as soon as Kikuchi knocked off work. As soon as we turned into the highway, Sailor Boy complained he was hungry. It’s not even 6 pm yet. We made a brief stop at Sg. Buloh jejantas for a quick bite – KFC.

Mr Ketchup: I want snack plate – chicken thighs only okay! Hot & spicy. And I want orange. Thanks.

Kikuchi: I want snack plate – two breasts, hot & spicy and Pepsi.

Sailor Boy: Get me dinner plate please. Mix Hot & spicy and original with Pepsi.

Kikuchi: Eh? They don’t let you mix. It’s either hot & spicy or original. I worked in KFC before leh!

Sailor Boy: I have been ordering this since the day I was born.

Mr Ketchup: Why you ordered original? It’s not nice!

As for myself, I ordered a Zinger maxx combo.

Guess who is the uncomplicated one here?

After eating the intricately prepared dinner at KFC, we went on our journey and not even 2 hours later, Sailor Boy complained he is hungry again. And this fella is so damn thin. God is never fair. Instead of taking advised direction from ML to take Gopeng exit, we took the emergency exit to Bidor to eat at the famous Pun Chun restaurant selling Duck Thigh Noodles and Wan Tan Mee.

Apart from Mr Ketchup who traveled before to Lumut once last year, the rest of us are totally clueless on how to get to Sitiawan. Kikuchi failed his geography and Sailor Boy only knows how to read directions from the stars while he is at the sea and unsure whether it might be the same on land, we decided to just follow the road signs and our gut instincts.

We were quite relieved that it was actually a lot simpler to get to Sitiawan through the Bidor exit. You just need to follow the signboard all the way to Pulau Pangkor.

Mr Ketchup: Where is Orient Star?

Me: It’s in Lumut town. Jalan Iskandar Shah. The locals told me, it’s just along the road. You should not miss it. It’s huge.

Mr Ketchup: I don’t like the sound of this.

True enough. We didn’t see Orient Star Hotel along the road like what other people told us. Damn. It was at the end of the universe after the jetty towards Pulau Pangkor. The irony is, such “famous” hotel don’t even have a decent signboard to show the way. We think it would be better to stay in smaller and less expensive hotels or motels (never mind special effects sounds at night) in the future. There has been a few new motels mushrooming around the Lumut area, which look quite decent.

After dumping our knapsacks in the hotel, we went out with our host for the weekend, Hot Momma Sharon. She took us to this Malay stall in Seri Manjong for its famous kueh teow basah. Don’t let the picture conned you. It might look somewhat disgusting but the taste is unbelievably good! This is probably the best kueh teow I had, at the beginning of this year! Haha.

We called it a day once we finished planning for our breakfast, snacks, lunch and tea time tomorrow.