Sekinchan: Paddy Fields and Temples

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Imagine a flat expanse of green and golden yellow, stretching on for miles in all directions – dotted only by the odd blockish building in the middle of each field. This is Sekinchan, a paddy and fishing village on the outskirts of Selangor. What was once a sleepy nook has become a famous tourist destination, thanks to a TV show.. but there’s no doubt that even with the throng of weekenders, the place retains a quaint charm.

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Known as the ‘ricebowl of Selangor’, the vast irrigated paddy fields produces one of the highest yields in Malaysia.

We came at a wrong time, as most of the paddy had already been harvested. There were still a few squares left over but nothing compared to how pretty it would be when all the fields are green! :) Perhaps a return trip next time.

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This is how it looks like when the fields are all green. Pretty, non? Photo from: sekinchan.org

The best time to visit is from March – May and Sept – Nov. Time your visit to avoid disappointment! :)

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While driving through the narrow and dusty roads (be prepared to give your car a good wash after the trip!), visitors will come across these random grey blocks now and then. These are ‘nests’ for swallows. The birds usually make their nests in dark caves, hence the enclosed building. The nest, made out of swallow saliva, is collected and sold at Chinese medicinal shops for high prices and are supposedly healthy and nutritious. Might sound disgusting to some Westerners, but it’s not that bad. Really.

When I was younger and whenever my mum had money, she’d buy me some and boil it into a soup with rock sugar and ginger. The nest is dried and only expands when it’s soaked in water. It’s tasteless; the only taste comes from rock sugar. The texture is similar to crunchy gelatin.

Does it have proven health benefits? Maybe, maybe not. Some say they do because of their protein, collagen and vitamin content, but no comprehensive research has been done. These were ingredients handed down over thousands of years of Chinese history, and the modern day Chinese still follow the wisdom of our ancestors. My parents are quite traditional, so when I was growing up, they made me eat a tonne of stuff like frog eggs (yes! They’re kinda like jelly), pigs brain soup (good for the brain, apparently), and whatnot. Maybe that’s why I became a strong, healthy adult (???) Or maybe it’s just all that milk and cod liver oil. Nobody knows for sure.

Anyway, I digress.

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There is a paddy processing plant in the middle of the site. It’s easy to lose your bearings when driving through endless paddy fields, so look out for road signs.

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One of them huge-ass harvesting machines.

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Before going into the plant, we stopped by the roadside stall for a snack of fried strawberry ice-cream. It wasn’t good.. lol

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Another famous produce in Sekinchan is their mangoes, which can grow as big as a human forearm.

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All manner of snacks and produce, neatly packaged for tourists to take home. Fried prawn crackers hang from the ceiling, while biscuits, preserved fruits and jam line the shelves.

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Freshly fried and crunchy sesame rice cakes being cut into neat pieces.

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There isn’t much to do at the processing plant because they don’t allow visitors to look at the actual process. You can pay Rm5 to buy a ticket and watch a show in the gallery upstairs instead. It’s also a good place to shop for cheap but high quality rice. Rice connoisseurs, go crazy! You can find not only regular white rice, but brown rice, fragrant rice, Jasmine rice, the list goes on….

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Leaving the plant and passing by a large flock of storks.

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And stopping by a fruit orchard to get some fresh fruits! :)

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Just a short drive away is the Nan Tian Temple, which overlooks the paddy fields. Dedicated to the Nine Emperor Gods in Taoist beliefs, the fishing and farming community would pray for good harvest and weather.

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The bright yellow and red structure looks pretty with a fresh coat of paint. Architecture is typical of Chinese temples, with dragon statues on curling rooftops and pagodas.  The original structure was erected in 1984.

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Light a candle and offer a prayer to the gods. :)

You’re probably wondering why pineapples. Pineapples are called ‘Ong Lai’ in Chinese, which also sounds like ‘fortune comes’. Chinese people are all about fortune, wealth and prosperity – go to any Chinese community anywhere and it’s the same. lol

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We left around 3pm. It took two hours to get home because halfway through it started raining like a storm. Good thing we left early!

There isn’t much to do in Sekinchan other than visit the paddy fields, eat and shop for souvenirs and fresh produce; but it’s a nice palce to get away from the city for a bit, especially if you don’t feel like staying overnight.

 

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