Sunday, October 28, 2018

Short Trip to Kuala Selangor

Kuala Selangor is a town around 70 kms from Kuala Lumpur. We visited two main attractions there- Bukit Malawati and Kampung Kuantan.

Bukit Malawati is the place where the previous rulers built their fort of defense. There are several attractions available on the hill, including Altingsburg Lighthouse, Dutch and Malay handmade cannons,  the location of old Malawati fort, Historical Museum of Kuala Selangor, and many more. The attractions are connected by small roads which are closed to visitors during weekends and public holidays. Therefore visitors have to use tram service to move around the hill. We visited the hill on Friday afternoon, so we had no issue driving our own car there. 

Altingsburg Lighthouse was first built by Dutch some two hundred years ago, and named it after the Dutch Governor at that time. The lighthouse was then rebuilt in 1907 by British government, retaining the original name. The lighthouse is 83 meters high, sending light as far as 50 kms away towards the Strait of Malacca, signaling the location of the mouth of Selangor Rivers. It is still in operation today. 
The lighthouse is closed to public.
The Dutch cannons are located in front of Altingsburg Lighthouse, facing the Straight of Malacca. Dutch cannons are much bigger compared to Malay handmade cannons. This is a great place to enjoy the nice scenery around the estuary of Selangor River, while taking photos with Silver Leaf Monkey.

Historical Museum of Kuala Selangor District is just next to Altingsburg Lighthouse. It was a small museum with brief history of Selangor Royal family. We spent around 40 minutes in the museum.

The old location of Malawati Fort is located behind the museum. Today, only the stone walls and a few cannons can be seen there. Other structures had been long destroyed by war, or consumed by natural elements.

Batu Hampar or Bedrock is one of the old legacies from the fort. This stone structure is located at the entrance of the fort. Some believed the structure had been used for the execution of traitors, which had been denied by a few local historians. The real usage of the structure remains unknown. Can it be a coffee table for old king?

Old stone walls reveal the past of this area. Malawati fort was first built by Sultan Ibrahim- the second sultan of Selangor. The fort fell into different hands due to the political and military turmoils. 

The old location of Malawati Fort.

Silver Leaf Monkey, a threatened species in Malaysia, has grown extremely well in Malawati Hill. The monkeys are tame, human friendly, and presence almost everywhere on the hill (upper left). Monkey food was sold with RM 10 per pack. Although these monkeys are tame most of the time, they will get a bit frenzy during feeding time. So our advise- don't feed them if you don't want to have body contact with the monkey. 

There are a few other attractions nearby Bukit Malawati (upper left). During weekends and public holidays, visitors to Bukit Malawati are required to park their cars at the entrance to the hill and buy the ticket for the tram there (upper right). The is a Royal Mausoleum at the hill side (lower right). The mausoleum was not opened to visitor during our visit. The road on the hill is narrow. We saw several stone piles along the way. Are they historical relics? 

We spent around 2 hours on the hill. By the way, we saw some visitors walked around the hill by foot. There was no food and beverages sold on the hill, so we might need to bring enough drinking water and some snacks there. Mosquitoes were everywhere on the hill, especially at Malawati Fort area. So please get some insect repellents ready, just in case.

We continued our trip to Kampung Kuantan to see fireflies. Kampung Kuantan is located along Selangor River. We were lucky that night, the rain stopped around 4 pm. The night was cooling, and the fireflies were not affected by the rain water. Kampung Kuantan is located 20 minutes drive from Bukit Malawati.

The ticket counter opens at 7:30 pm, while the firefly watching tour starts at 8:00 pm. As we are required to queue at ticketing counter and the dock side, it will be great if we can arrange two persons in the group to queue at these two places at the same time. First, we bought our ticket for one sampan (non-motorized boat) with RM 50 at the counter, and then asking for others to join us. We took less than 1 minute to find a couple from Ukraine to share the boat with us. Every boat there can accommodate four people.  The whole boat tour took around 30 minutes.

Insect repellent is very important here as mosquitoes are fierce. We applied the repellent even onto our clothes. Insect repellent can be bought outside the ticketing counter as well with RM 5 - RM 10 per bottle. 

We reached Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park around 6 pm and found nobody there (upper left). However, the whole park was lighten up around 7:30 pm (upper right). After we bought our ticket, we need to queue at the dock (lower right). Life jacket is required before boarding the sampan. 

We were surprised to find an open air food court at the firefly park. 

Fireflies are sensitive to our flashlight. So the best place to take photo with firefly is here. 

Kampung Kuantan is quite far from everywhere. So if you are using taxi service or even Grab a car there, make sure you ask them to wait for your return trip. Fireflies are very sensitive to flashlight. So we can't actually take any photo after boarding the sampan. The fireflies are getting lesser there, despite continuous effort to conserve their habitat. We are glad to see our national energy cmpany, Tenaga Nasional is joining the conservation work now. We hope our small little fireflies can stay happily at Selangor River for a long time.

We went back to our hotel at Sekinchan at around 8:30 pm. We share our experience at Sekinchan in our previous post.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Things to do in Sekinchan, Selangor

Sekinchan is a major rice producing area in Malaysia. Located around 100 kms from Kuala Lumpur, the small town is a popular tourist spot on weekends and public holidays. The town is beautiful providing three different atmosphere- endless paddy field that change from green to yellowish in different seasons, simple fishing village that offers fresh seafood right from fishing boats, and slow-paced small town with eateries serving local dishes and shops selling local products and souvenirs. 

We spent two days in Sekinchan, explored the paddy field, walked down the village and the seaside, and tried the food there. A two-day trip was just nice to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere there. Let us share our stories starting from the biggest attraction in Sekinchan- paddy field.

Field with endless green paddy is breathtaking. The paddy field is around 5 kms wide.

Water is important for the growth of the paddy. The water will be drained during the harvest season.

Small roads are built along the water way. It is a great place for us to take a walk. 

Paddy Gallery is a must-visit site in Sekinchan (upper left). It is located at Malinja Road, in the middle of the paddy field. The gallery is within a huge rice processing factory (upper right). The visitors have the chance to learn more about the whole process of rice production, starting from the the growing of seedling to the packaging of white rice. The explanation is done through video and a tour guide. The gallery operates daily from 9 am - 6 pm. The entrance fee was RM 5.

The huge machinery for automated rice processing. Each white package on the far right contains 1000 kg of unprocessed rice.

We could buy different rice products at the end of the visit, including rice porridge and desserts (upper left), rice crackers (upper right), and rice for cooking (lower right). There was a planter machine located at the entrance. That machine plants paddy like a breeze.

A Ma House, or literary translated as grandma's house, is a small shop selling souvenir and snacks. The shop is located at Malinja Road (on the same stretch with Paddy Gallery), in front of a very big bird house (upper left). Antiques can be found in the shop (upper right), together with food and souvenirs (lower right). We tried some hand made cakes and shrimp rice crackers. The cake was soft, and the cracker was a bit salty.

Paddy field is located behind Sekinchan Town. We can't see much of it from the main road.

The second attraction in Sekinchan- the fishing village. The nickname of Sekinchan- "The land of fish and rice" (渔米之乡) revealed two important industries of the town. The fishing village however is not as pleasant as the paddy field. The air was not fouling, but  light "fishy" smell was in the air most of the time. There were several rows of village houses built along Bagan Road- the main street of the village. Redang Beach is around 3 minutes away by car. 

Redang Beach is the main attraction at the fishing village area. The beach area itself is small, either fills with coarse sand or sticky mud.

There is a small temple and a wishing tree nearby the beach. Many visitors happily hung their wishes on the tree. But we don't think the tree is happy with so many things hanging around its branches.

There is a Coca-Cola Souvenir Shop beside the beach (upper left). The shop is small, selling drinks, clothes, fridge magnets, key chains, and many other souvenirs (upper right). There was only one food stall in operation during our visit on Thursday (lower right). The tree house was recommended by many websites, but we found the tree houses there were not well-maintained. 

We found sitting next to the river mouth and watching the fishing boats returning back home was a great experience. The river mouth is just next to Redang Beach.

Fishing boats of all sizes were nicely "parked" along the river.

The entrance to the fishing village can be seen clearly from the main road (upper left). Shops (upper right) and temple (lower right) along Bagan Road. Motorbikes were the main vehicles in the village.

Ji Mei Lala Chien is located at the residential area beside the fishing village (upper left). The cook served nice fried la la clams with eggs (upper right). Although it was a small family running eatery, we found the fried la la clam and the fried stingray were special. 

We tried a few seafood at Guan Huat Restaurant (upper left). The stall is located at Bagan Road. It is a small simple wooden restaurant (upper right). We tried the shark meat sour spicy soup and stir fried shrimp with chili. The price, fair, and the taste, average. 

Sekinchan Town is located along the main road. There are many shops there, including several souvenir shops, restaurants and kopitiam. We tried a few of the restaurants there, and we would like to recommend 168 Restaurant and Tai Huat Restaurant.  

Kedai Kopi 168 is located along Tepi Sawah Road (upper left), nearby the paddy field. The wooden restaurant was small and simple, but always full with customers (upper right). We tried kung pau squid (lower right) and la la clam there. Good taste with fair price. We found that the restaurant next door also had quite a number of customers. You may give it a try too.

Tai Huat Restaurant, is located in the middle of the town (upper left), along Peria Road (upper right). The fried noodle (lower right) and chicken and barbecue rice were really good there. It is actually a kopitiam.

We visited Riri Fatt, which was recommended by many. Facing the main road, the restaurant, or to be more precise, kopitiam, is really easy to be found (upper left). The kopitiam had few stalls serving curry noodle (lower right) and prawn noodle. The curry noodle was average, but the prawn noodle was a bit disappointing. Well, that's our personal taste preference.

Sekinchan is busy during harvesting season on March and November (we can always call the homestay or hotel to confirm the exact harvesting date). We can see farmers working on the field while tourists amass to see the golden sea of paddy. Hotels and homestays are full, abd restaurants are packed with customers and stressed staff. However, if you prefer to have a quiet and peaceful trip, which you can enjoy walking along the paddy field without accompany by hundreds of visitors, and sitting in a restaurant and enjoy your meal peacefully, then you can opt to visit the town around February and October, like us. You will be able to experience the quiet side of Sekinchan.

Sekinchan is around 30 minutes away from Kuala Selangor by car. We took the opportunity to visit Bukit Malawati and Kampung Kuantan. We will share our experience there in our next post.

You can read more about our travel experiences around Selangor and Perak at: