Endurance Holiday Feel
How much do Malaysians love their holidays? Very much. It could be for just one day and everyone wakes up extra early to maximise their "free gift".
Early in the morning petrol heads gather. Their destination being a drive and naturally to feed. During this round, our destination was Kuala Sepetang. Traffic was perfect with very little cars on the highway and the drivers seem to be more relaxed.
Everyone loves to convoy on holidays
Our destination this time was Kuala Sepetang in northern Perak. Formerly known as Port Weld, this is a thriving fishing village which supplies a large portion of fresh seafood to Penang and Kuala Lumpur. We were setup to receive some fresh green crabs. As they were very scarce, these crabs are not commercially viable so the fishermen save the goodies for themselves. Even in our catch, we only got 9 crabs and they weren't very big. But that does not stop us from driving 240kms to taste it.
Freshness and Flavour
Rare "Sai Tou" fish and Fried Tofu to mop up the crab sauces
We were not disappointed. Pairing superior live produce and a masterful chef, the "suspect-fly-by-night" shop lot in the middle of nowhere unexpectedly dished out banquet-level cuisine. Mind-boggling when it is served on 90 cents plastic plates and zebra-esque stainless steel dish. The crabs stole the show. Like how the flower crabs in Pulau Aman were fresh and meaty, these green crabs were smaller, meat packed and the flavour was outstandingly sweet. Presented in cilipadi-steam and sweet and sour, the chef delivered a perfect rendition of these hard found crustaceans. The Sai Tou fish was also fantastic. The meat was firm and the delicate flavours were retained successfully.
Meanwhile in Belum Rainforest, about 170kms away from us, our counterparts are catching dinner. Being more than 130 million years old, this Rainforest is older than the Amazon. Gazetted as a state park, visitors are kept to a minimum and limited permits are issued throughout the year. The target is Tomans or Giant snakeheads. Left to flourish in the wild, these fish can grow quite big and they will put on a good fight once hooked. Good eats it should be.
After our lunch we went to the Mangrove swamp reserve park. It was a serene and cooling place with chalets you can rent for overnights. Look hard enough you see tiny crabs climbing the trees.
We then took a boat downriver passing some small fishing villages. As we reached the river mouth the views transformed into a Port-like (Port Weld) environment. The bustling of boats and densely packed buildings atop water made us feel like we were in a foreign country. We did not realize Malaysia had these types of scenery!
Part of the local fair is eagle sighting and again, we have never seen so many eagles at one spot before. Between 30-50 eagles swarm over the river as boats throw seafood chum along their path.
And then the skies poured and we headed back to land. One of our fellow members has a knack for attracting big storms. If not mistaken, during one of our Port Dickson sails he also initiated a formidable storm that got the boat heeling well over...
Some homes park cars in their backyard. Some homes park boats in their backyard.
Since we were soaked, we made our way to the nearby charcoal factory to dry up. Another local fair, many boats on the waterway were transporting logs to these factories for charcoal production. It was huge spanning a few hundred meters and many kilns filled the interior.
Our guide Mr Chu explaining the process of charcoal manufacturing. Did you know Japan is a primary importer of Malaysian coal as we use 30 year old mangrove trees which are adequately matured and dense. This creates the highest quality charcoal that burns consistently for longer. The government gazettes areas in the mangrove swamp that can be logged and replants the trees for the charcoal factories ensuring sustainability!
Interior of a kiln
That is not smoke but steam. The logs are being dried in the kilns, not burnt.
200kms away another drive takes place in KKB (car related post)...
...and in Belum first Toman landed. 3kg
Second at 7kg
We are back at Port Weld, now on land, to try their famous curry-mee. It was packed as the shop only opens mid-afternoon for a few hours. But all the walking, boating and driving got us hungry again. So we ordered the lot and it did not disappoint.
Fantastic views at the river mouth. The white patch of land at the mangroves are made out of cockleshells. The cockle meat is harvested and the factories dispose of the shells at that location. Overtime "land" emerges and some fisherman do rod fishing there. That is how much cockles Kuala Sepetang processes for your char kuew teow and curry mee. After coffee and chat overlooking this enchanting view, we made our way back to KL. It was after all a food drive and we have dinner caught enroute back to KL.
Fast forward back in KL the next day. Appetizer. The stage was set for our fish showcase.
From the sea another driver caught a 6 kg Tenggiri and he brought just the head. Another big fish. Deep fried with chillies and soy sauce. Fantastic. It was a huge dinner with two big fishes and we were full to the brim. Great ending to the short escape.
And then the head chef appears fully dressed to impress, carrying out another Toman which we had forgotten about. 7kg. It was huge.
Black pepper fried, its head measured about 7inches across. Even other tables came over to see the behemoth. And suddenly all conversations revolved around fishing. Certainly one of the longest dinners we undertook.
3 fishes fill a table seating 12 pax. One thought on the mind now. No more fish for the next few days! Looking forward to cars...
Picture credits: Touge Drive Team