By Anthony Dylan
I was going over some YouTube videos when I found a few which showed how they have made road trips around the peninsula. The videos documented their daily trips and small discoveries along the driven road. Many of which, seemed to be remarkably interesting. These stops range from unique places and scenery normally not seen from the highways. Getting off the highways at some point provides you with excellent value for experience.
Some have even captured the unique livelihoods and the unique food and drinks along the way. The rich yet unexplored domestic tourism is nearly always forgotten though we have the best-connected highways in the Peninsula.
I made a small 3-day 2-night trip up to Ipoh during one of the holidays. I knew it would likely be busy, but I thought that it would be great to try out the journey and sample what it felt like to do one. Previous long road-trips were declinational. Mostly for work. The most I did was between 2008 up to 2010 as I travelled towards Muar.
From there on, I made my way to meetings in Melaka, Batu Pahat, Segamat and occasionally to Johor Bahru. Having to stay in Muar at Classic Hotel right in the middle of Muar town amongst the simple folk and a short walk to many traditional kopitiams. The feeling of Muhibbah is real in smaller towns. Where else can you also find the best Mee Bandung Muar Hanipah at Wah San Kopitiam or where quaint kopitiams are patronized by all walks of life.
Even the Sai Kee 434 brand is from here. They have a shop in Muar and is called so because 434 was their old phone number. They also grow distinctively larger elephant Liberica bean coffee. Mee siput is another interesting snack. The deep-fried crispy noodles are wound up looking like the back of a snail and comes with a packet of sweet chili sauce. By the way, satay is available for breakfast in Muar. Yong Sheng also originated from Muar. They are famed for their pastries and wedding gifts.
Batu Pahat and Segamat all have their share of unique eats as with the famous Tangkak Kuang Fei Beef Noodles in the middle of the cloth selling town. Tangkak is also fondly called “syurga kain”. Of course, Kluang is also known for the famous train station and the “kopi cap televisyen.”
I have never forgotten what it was like to travel around in those two years. The feeling of discovering novel places and experiencing the simpler form of life which is richer than even the wealthy. After so many years have gone by, and perhaps due to the prolonged MCO of 2020 till 2021; I had discovered many who have also took time to drive around the Peninsula.
One of my must do in life would be a grand trip taking me down from Subang Jaya all the way to the south. This would include going through Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor. This journey would then skirt the east coast of Johor heading up towards Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. The next stage would be to cross across into Belum of Perak as the journey snakes into Kedah upwards to Perlis. From there, the final leg would go down towards Penang and then Perak before arriving back in Selangor. This would take no shorter than 14 days up to 30 days.
In the meantime, we must make do with going up to Ipoh first. Going up north had been quite a while for me as the only other visits were short trips to Cameron Highlands or Penang. The only other places we had been to were Tanjung Malim and Kampar. I had only been to Teluk Intan once as I was the driver of the wedding car for my best friend to fetch his then wife to be.
We decided that the trip to Ipoh would be to be a leisure one and to go to places where locals would go. The drive from Subang Jaya provided us the route using ELITE and the NKVE. Traffic was quite busy on an early morning as we began before sunrise. It got busier near Sungai Buloh but traffic was moving smoothly. We took the first Ipoh exit and looked around for a kopitiam to have our breakfast. We eventually stopped by Loke Wooi Kee for some ‘kai si hor fun.’ They also have ‘hor hee’ which is fish ball and fish cake with hor fun.
We also discovered good dry curry mee at Nam Chau Kopitiam and even Paris Restaurant which has a plaque proudly claiming to have the best Hakka Mee. To be honest, they may have a point as they make their own noodles. You cannot get away without trying the tau fu fa from Wong Kee. This is a local favourite. In the old town, there are also many places you could walk to.
The famous Concubine Lane aka Lorong Panglima and the other two; Wife Lane aka Hale Lane and Concubine Lane 2 aka Market Lane are in the area. You could also find yourself walking through Little India. It feels like walking onto a different scene each time. The famous Nam Heong Kopitiam is well known for their siew mai and egg tarts. But coffee wise, I would suggest you head across the road to Sin Yoon Loong. You can also buy a portion of siew yuk to eat with your roti bakar.
We also drove around to Kellie’s Castle and Tanjung Tualang before we retuned and stopped by the small town of Pusing. We discovered an off road towards this place called Papan which had a long history. The town is in a sad state but was once the last bastion of rebellion against the Japanese. Sybil Kathigasu comes to mind. The old mining town is a one seemed frozen in time but with immense potential for historical and cultural tourism. All theses places are easily accessible and driven to from Ipoh.
The short trip was testament as to why domestic tourism is rich with undiscovered yet lively places. We decided that we should do short excursions more into the state of Perak and Negeri Sembilan. There’s so much to see and discover. I guess it is time to plan for more and have that grand plan happen within the near future. I suggest you try doing short road trips too. It is addictive.