The day began early as the other media delegates and I had to leave our boathouse. While we got ready and had breakfast, the boat was sailing towards the jetty, a one-hour journey.
Well, all good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. It’s all right, another adventure for the day awaited, as our first destination would be Taiping, the town of many firsts. The journey was about 2.5 hours by road.
Malaysia’s oldest coffee mill
Greeted by the enticing aroma of coffee, we knew we had arrived at the country’s oldest coffee mill, Antong Café. Visitors who come at the right time can see how coffee is processed.
Undeniably, one cannot go wrong with coffee, and there’s plenty of variants to sample here. Prefer a particular flavour? It is for sale here!
Read about my earlier visit to Antong Café.
Undoubtedly, tourists can never get bored in Taiping, the wettest town in Peninsular Malaysia.
This town of many firsts was bestowed an international award at the 9th Tourism Promotion Organisation for Asia Pacific Cities (TPO) General Assembly held in Busan, Korea recently. Busan mayor, Oh Keo-don, presented The Best of Public Relations Campaign 2019 award to Taiping Municipal Council (MPT) president Borhan Abdul Halim.
Last year, Taiping was recognised as the third most sustainable city in the world, receiving the 2019 Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards at the International Tourismus-Börse (ITB) travel trade show in Berlin, Germany.
With the many tourist attractions that Taiping has to offer, extra time should be allocated to visit the more than 40 firsts of Malaysia. However, don’t worry, a pit stop for photography along Taiping Raintree Walk by the Taiping Lake Gardens is adequate!
An educational tour
Wonder Farm Mushroom Sdn. Bhd. in Taiping presents an elaborate educational tour of the organic mushroom farm to visitors.
The boss, second generation Mr Tan, is friendly, knowledgeable and most importantly, willing to share information. Just ask him whatever you want to know about mushroom cultivation. They even sell spawn bags, so you can also be your own mushroom boss.
The family-run farm has been in business for more than 30 years and there are various species of mushrooms produced. Besides selling fresh mushrooms, they supply many down-line food and beverage products that are made from mushrooms.
If you wish to make a visit, do arrange an appointment. For further information, log on to the website of Wonder Farm Mushroom HERE.
By now, it was time for lunch, and we had ours at Lemon Tree Seafood Restaurant in Matang, a short drive from Taiping town. Matang is well known for seafood porridge, so we savoured this dish as well! Have a look at what a hearty meal it was.
How are dragon joss sticks made?
This question had lingered on my mind for the longest time, actually, but remained unanswered until recently.
As this is a seasonal industry, there are only three times in a year that ‘dragon head’ joss sticks are made in extra large quantities to meet customer orders, and they are during the 1st, 7th and 9th lunar months, for Chinese New Year celebration, Hungry Ghost Festival and Nine Emperor Gods Festival, respectively.
Hun Leng Heong Hang was the joss stick factory that we visited. Not only were we given a tour and demonstration, we even had the opportunity to get hands-on to make our own joss products as souvenirs.
Did you know that each joss stick is made using three layers of sandalwood powder (or sawdust for lower quality joss sticks)? I definitely did not know the labourious workload and patience entailed. The joss sticks are then left to dry under the sun, before they are painted on.
The time required to produce joss sticks varies according to their length. Some could take months. All I know is that it’s painstaking work, and with the light of a matchstick, when the joss is offered to the deities, all the hard work goes up in the air, too.
When you are in the area, don’t pass up the chance to visit the traditional charcoal-making factories in Kuala Sepetang.
Although there are a few enterprises here, award-winning Khay Hor Holdings Sdn. Bhd., the largest factory with the most kilns, (or its subsidiary My Charcoal Factory) provides the most comprehensive explanation on how charcoal is actually made.
Read about my earlier visit HERE.
An early dinner, seafood again
Yes, don’t say no to seafood when you are in Kuala Sepetang. Not only is the seafood here the freshest you can get, they are priced reasonably, too!
Our dinner was at Xin Kuala Sepetang Seafood Restaurant. This eatery, just by the river, is hidden from view and you need to go through narrow side lanes to look for it. Fresh cockles are a speciality here!
Anyway, dinner was early for a reason. We still had plenty to do before calling it a day!!! Read on….
No running water, no electricity, OOPS, where were we?
We took a boat ride out to a remote fishing village called Kuala Sangga, about 45 minutes from the jetty of Kuala Sepetang. We were told that there is no running water or electricity.
Admittedly, I have been to many similar fishing villages with wooden houses on stilts built in the sea but this has got to be the most undeveloped and smallest, with only ONE walking path, that going from one end to the other takes less than 15 minutes.
However, what surprises is that there’s a school, SRJK (C) Poay Chee, in Kuala Sangga. The student population in this school is SIX, with four teachers and 1 headmaster. Can you imagine that? I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
That’s not all! Unlike many other fishing villages, this one, with about 50 households, is home to a 150-year St. Anne’s Catholic chapel. Amazing, isn’t it?
The popular hangout place here is a local kopitiam, just at the village entrance. Apparently, its milo-mix-coffee is a popular drink among the locals.
I certainly have a good reason to revisit as we were there at about 8pm, and it was too dark to capture interesting sights, unfortunately.
It’s Christmas all year ’round
Leaving Kuala Sangga, there was one more activity to indulge in before we departed for Ipoh, and that’s firefly watching!
I’m not new to firefly-watching but I am proud to say that the Matang Mangrove Forest in Kuala Sepetang, Perak, is one of the most highly populated areas of fireflies (kelip-kelip).
I can’t speak for everyone but the best way to observe fireflies is just through our naked eye because it’s next to impossible to capture them on camera. Do you agree?
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