Short Getaway to Kuala Sepetang, Perak

by Ruby Gege

All hail the weekends, people! Palah and I decided that for our second weekend getaway, we would go to Kuala Sepetang. Where the hell is that? You may ask. Trust me, I asked the same question two years ago. Hahaha.

Kuala Sepetang is a small town 16 km away from Taiping. It is not much of a town, really, but a highly-functional fishing village. It used to be quite busy as a mining area and was formerly known as Port Weld (fancy name, eh?) It is known for its great seafood, fishing village that looked pretty much the same since Merdeka days and its riverside tourism (boat ride, eagle-sighting, dolphin sighting (if you’re lucky) and some fireflies stuff, too). Since I am not a fan of nature, my purpose was mainly to enjoy the scenery and fresh air, aside from going to the Matang Museum and Mangrove Forest walk.

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Sepetang can be quite tiring. Thus, Palah and I (joined by our master nappers, Jeep and Fatin) decided to stop by Ipoh and spent the first night at Palah’s family home. We headed to Kuala Sepetang the next day, which took us about one hour.

The first place we went was Kedai Makan Yut Sun, a superb kopitiam in Taiping. For the past 2 years, I have been having an intense love affair with this establishment. We orded the best food to have there – kaya and butter bread, chicken chop with rice, Roti Seremban and kuey tiow. The coffee there, I tell you, is one of the best coffee in Malaysia.

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Palah looking absolutely serious and Fatin choosing what to eat.

Afterwards, we headed to Matang Museum, which is situated between Taiping and Kuala Sepetang. Rich in history, it tells the history of a powerful Malay nobleman, Ngah Ibrahim, who ruled Larut (together with Matang and Selama, the districts had Taiping as their capital). During his rule, chaos reigned as the Larut Wars were happening between the clan of Hai San and Ghee Hin, two Chinese secret society based in Malaya during that time. Come the intervention of the Perak Sultanate and the British colonial government, somehow Ngah Ibrahim found himself punished for opposing the British rule. A complex history at that time, to be sure.

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Matang Museum, also known as Kota Ngah Ibrahim

The building itself is beautifuuuul! The fort surrounding the building is actually the original fort of Ngah Ibrahim’s mansion. The house is also quite intact. When we went in, the officers of the museum were quiet but cordial to us. The exhibitions in the museum are also praiseworthy. They have different sections – the different types of miners (Chinese and Malay), the Japanese rule, the replica of offices of Malay noblemen and British officers. Aside from that, the museum also offers lots of knowledge about important historical figures that our mainstream society has seem to have forgotten about.

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Jeep smiling with the vintage background. Looks like a painting, does it not? The wall, I mean, not Jeep.

The outer side of the museum, of course, is highly Instagram-ish. It is a good thing that they did not alter or renovate the paint so much that the building retains a nostalgic and historical feel.

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Where art thou, Captain Speedy? Here’s to me fantasizing myself as a Malay princess 200 years ago, and Jeep ignoring my antics.

A few hundred metres from the main building is the house of Captain Speedy, who was Ngah Ibrahim’s officer. Sadly, though, the building is not open for visitors so we could only get to take a picture outside the house.

Then, off we went to Kuala Sepetang. The first place we stopped by is the Mangrove Forest Reserve. Since I am not much of nature’s lover, I’ll just say this to you – it is quite an amazing place for you to take a nice long walk. In the forest. Literally. Surrounded by a gazillion trees. Palah went cray cray with her love for greeneries. Haha. According to Palah, the Mangrove Forest here was actually declared as the best mangrove forest reserve in the world! Not bad, Malaysia, not bad. Sometimes, the country does make me proud!

There is also a small jetty at the end of our walk. We rested by the jetty for a while. Palah embodied her role as a serious inspiring photographer, taking a picture of what-not.

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After spending some time there, we went to have lunch at the famous Mee Udang Mak Jah. The mee udang there is soooo delicious! It is spicy, soupy and has lots and lots of fresh prawns.

After lunch, we went to our hotel, the Happy 8 Retreat, which is right by the river. It is a nice place to stay, though can be quite tiring as it has no elevator and our room is on the (God forbid) 3rd FLOOR! So, lots of climbing for us fat people! The staffs are quite helpful and friendly, most of them seem to be local people. We took a nap, rested and basically enjoyed our beds and air-conditioner. However, if you guys are serious coffee or tea drinkers like me, I would suggest that you bring your own supply of beverages since they don’t supply it a lot there (like… only one packet of instant coffee for each room).

Finally, after resting and before dinner, we went on a boat ride! I can’t really remember the name of the boat service company (Palah does, so you guys can ask her) but it is situated not more than three shoplots away from our hotel. After our phone call, she came to pick us up right away and took us to the boat. Imagine, only four of us and the aunty and the boat driver and the aunty’s son. The boat ride cost us RM 80 but it is totally worth it. We get to see the fishing village in more details! The houses in each side of the village – the one by the river and the other side which is literally… houses on the river… like… floating).

Come the next day, we did not do much. We rested all morning and drove to Ipoh to visit our friend, Ika. She is teaching English at a centre there and we lepak-ed at Plan B, this high-end food chain from KL. I am so surprised to see how Ipoh has changed in some certain parts. People are trying to be more hipster (kinda like Penang) and that annoyed us a bit. Of course, the food, though, is still alright.

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Jeep and Fatin, possibly over-whelmed by the over-hipsterness of Ipoh…

Of course, we would not want to leave Ipoh without going to a museum. First, we went to the Darul Ridzuan Museum but left extremely disappointed as most sections of the museum were closed for renovation. Determined to never give up, we googled and finally found Ho Yan Hor Museum. The outer look of the museum is very pleasing – blue in colour and homey-like. We did not know what the museum exhibits but the staffs there are extremely hospitable and friendly. Ho Yan Hor is a really famous herbal tea brand in Malaysia created by a pharmacist/tabib/healer decades ago. Due to his hard work, he managed to spread the fame of the tea nation-wide.

After saying goodbye to Ika, we then returned, quite reluctantly, to Kuala Lumpur. The short trip to Perak was short indeed. But it was lovely as hell. So guys, if you are looking for a place to visit which does not require lots of planning or money to be spent, we think Kuala Sepetang is the place for you. If you have more days to spare, you can actually stop by many townships on your way there ie Kuala Kangsar and Teluk Intan as well. I’m sure they have lots of interesting things to offer there as well.

That’s all for now! Bye bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAIPING – The Small Paradise, A Great Piece of Heritage

BY RUBY GEGE

I’ve been feeling quite down lately mainly because I’m having a hard time adjusting to my work life. Thus, I woke up last Thursday with a great feeling of distress and desire to escape KL for a while. I texted Palah and asked her whether or not she’ll be free this weekend. She instantly replied, “if you are thinking of coming here, just come lah!!”

So I did. I told myself – what the hell. It’s a three hour drive but I’m sure I’ll reach Taiping in two hours and half. Fuck long hours at work on a Friday. Fuck the exhaustion. Fuck everything. I am going to visit my best friend in Taiping to make myself happy. So I did. I woke up that Friday, feeling so pumped up and could not wait for the day to be over. I left office at 8 pm and drove straight to Taiping, reaching there at almost 11 pm. It was quite an easy drive and the traffic was clear. 

After spending two days here, I have to say Taiping is a lovely town with a rich heritage values with old pre-colonial buildings almost everywhere. Palah is living with Ika, another friend of mind, who is a native of Taiping. The town is a pretty much a quiet town, almost dying in a sense with ruined buildings here and there. Yet, it felt amazingly calm and peaceful to be there – a feeling I can never experience in KL. Ouh, my dislike towards that city is unfortunately increasing day by day…

Saturday morning, we had breakfast in Restoran Yut Sun, a nice kopitiam with great white coffees and breakfast menu. 

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Then, we visited the Perak Museum. Even though it is not as big as Penang Museum, the building has a very beautiful colonial infrastructure. 

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Afterwards, we visited the First Galleria, a private museum exhibiting all the ‘FIRSTS’ things in Taiping. Taiping, which means ‘Everlasting Peace’ in Mandarin, was the centre of tin mining in Malaysia. A lot of facilities were built here in Malaysia ie the railway station, the post office and others. We had a very nice and passionate tour guide, who is also a student, Rais to explain to us the history of Taiping.

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Then we had dinner at Taiping Mall and watched Annabelle. I had no idea why I agreed but it was fun, anyway.

Sunday, we had breakfast at a bakery (because all kopitiams were closed on Sunday. I was soooo sad!!) Afterwards, we went to Antong Coffee Factory, which was the first coffee mill to ever be built in Malaysia. The sisters there are very very nice and offered us free coffees. 

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BUT my favourite place to visit has to be the historical house which was located inside the factory compound. It used to be resided by the father of modern China, Dr Sun Yat Sen and his second wife, Chen Cui Fen. I honestly did not know that the factory houses a massive historical piece of Dr Sun and was literally gawking as I saw the signboard with Sun Yat Sen’s picture on it. Being a fan of Chinese history, I could not help but to turn a little crazy and over excited. The uncle who works there is super nice and allows us in to take photos!!

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Then, we went to the Lake Garden. One friend of mine suggested I visit the place, telling me that a visit to Taiping would not be complete without seeing the beautiful Lake Garden. I am so glad I listened to her advice. 

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It is 3.48 pm now and I am about to leave Taiping, feeling tremendously satisfied and happy yet a little bit melancholic.

Why? 

Perhaps because I am growing increasingly unhappy in KL. It’s too crowded, too materialistic, too money-centred. Everybody is so intense, everybody is so crazy, everybody is trying to achieve something. I did want to run away for a while. Coming to Taiping, it gave me everything my heart has been seeking for. A small town that reminds me of my happy childhood in Kuala Krai and Bentong. A small town that reminds me that life does not revolve around money, success and stability all the time. Most importantly, I get to meet my best friend!! Hahaha, because really, life without the physical presence of your best friends near you is so so so ultimately depressing. Dear Fatma, how I hope she can join us one day and the three can go visit the beautiful small towns in Malaysia!!!

Bye bye Taiping!! I have a strong feeling I’ll be meeting you again soon!! *hahaha maybe next month??*

FOR MORE PHOTOS OF MY TAIPING VISIT, GO TO THIS LINK! Hehehehe – https://www.facebook.com/ruby.jusoh/media_set?set=a.10205333369920319.1073741842.1430351623&type=

and Palah also has a lot of gorgeous Taiping photos in her Facebook as well – https://www.facebook.com/mrs.athrunzala/media_set?set=a.10204806687148244.1073741845.1270314211&type=1

P/S – I really have to get the extremely negative thoughts out of my head. They have been keeping my spirit down to the point I feel like escaping KL every single day and go live with my friends. I have to be positive positive positive!! (I am mumbling here so that I can actually try to absorb this fucking advice!) Work for just a few more months and prepare my PhD proposal at the same time… I believe I can do it!!!!!!! But maybe, just maybe, to survive, little escapades to small towns like Taiping is a necessity… Hahaha