7 Things To Do In Sekinchan – The Rice Bowl Of Selangor, Malaysia

Located on the far northwestern reaches of Selangor, Sekinchan is a small fishing and agricultural town that is perfect for daytrippers from KL. Known for its vast paddy fields, it is also called the Rice Bowl of Selangor. For urban folk, the laidback pace here can be a nice change from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The only way to get here is by car, as public transportation is virtually non-existent. From Kuala Lumpur, Sekinchan is approximately a two-hour drive. Part of the trip is through the expressway, but most of it takes you through small towns, scenic kampung roads and even parts of palm oil plantations. Just be ready with Waze!

Here’s a short guide to things you can do / eat / see in town:

Take Lovely Photos of the Paddy Fields (In season: Sept – Nov)

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You’ll know you’re in Sekinchan when the landscape turns into vast swathes of paddy fields, dotted with concrete buildings (these are swiftlet nests; the locals use them to cultivate birds nest for consumption in Chinese herbal medicine), scarecrows and heavy machinery. The fields are green (pre-harvest) from September to October, which is also the perfect time for photos. Some couples come all the way here just to do their pre-wedding photoshoots (getting their gowns dirty in the mud / dirt notwithstanding). December is harvest season, when the fields turn into lush carpets of gold. Make sure you come at the right season to avoid disappointment !

Visit the Paddy Gallery 

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Sitting among the fields is a large paddy processing plant that also has a couple of shops for tourists. If you think rice is just rice, be prepared to have your eyes opened: they sell all kinds, from long grained basmathi to fluffy Jasmine and chewy brown rice (in smaller packs of two kilos up to gargantuan 20 kilo portions). There is a small ‘museum’ upstairs detailing the paddy processing, but entrance is RM5 which isn’t worth it IMO as all you get are static displays. Aside from rice, you can also get other products such as noodles, belacan, snacks, homemade goods, and more.

 

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Offer Prayers at Nan Tian Temple 

Overlooking the paddy fields is an old Chinese temple dedicated to the Nine Emperor Gods, which are nine deities in Taoist belief. Our visit conicided with the Nine Emperor Gods Festival and there were awnings out front, so I couldn’t capture the exterior – but it looks extremely Chinese, down to the bright yellow/red colour scheme and the curved, tiled roofs topped with dragons.

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2-metre high joss sticks, which will be burnt as an offering to the gods

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An intricately decorated paper (?) tower in front of the main altar, with figures of deities and mythical creatures

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The main prayer hall. The wood columns look pretty old.

Even if you’re not a devotee, come and observe the architecture and the going-ons in the temple – it’s a great insight into the local way of life here.

Get A Dose Of Nostalgia At Ah Ma House

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Close to the edge of the fields you will find Ah Ma House, a bakery-cum-tourist attraction. Step into its interior to be greeted by the smell of freshly baked goodies such as their famous kuih kapit and kuih bahulu, and while you’re munching away, browse through the decor which is filled with items from yesteryears. On display here are items such as antique furniture, cabinets, analog telephones, old sewing machines, black and white TVs, vintage radios, suitcases, and even a replica of a traditional wood-fired kitchen.

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I am old enough to remember the days when we had to adjust the antennas on our TV to get better reception. lol

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Ceramic bowls and tiffin carriers were a common sight in kitchens and dining rooms back in the day, and they were often kept on glass/wooden shelves like these.

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Colourful hand made fans – perfect for cooling yourself down in the sweltering Malaysian heat

 

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Shelves lined with local products you can buy, like belacan, sauces, noodles, snacks, and more. We bought a large packet of fried shrimp crackers for RM8 which we finished in a day, lol.

Lunch Break: Tuck Into Fish Noodles At Old Friend Kopitiam

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Since Sekinchan is also a fishing village and part of it is located by the sea, the place is famed for its fresh seafood. The initial plan was to look for a seafood restaurant, but we ended up at a kopitiam called Old Friend, in the centre of town. This turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as a random order from the noodle stall (handmade noodles with fish slices) was delicious, with soft slices of fish in a spicy, peppery broth paired with al dente noodles (only RM6!)

Address: Old Friend Kopitiam, 158, Jalan Radin, Pekan Sekinchan, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor

Indulge In Fried Goodies

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We noticed many diners with packets of what seemed to be fried goodies and located the source: a street food vendor just across the road. Business was brisk, with workers frying batches of items in a huge, oil-filled wok. There were fried prawn fritters, nian gao with yam (glutinous rice cake – it’s rare to see it outside of festivals!), sesame balls filled with red bean paste, goreng pisang (banana fritters) and more. We got a bit of everything and it did not disappoint; seasoned well, and not the least bit greasy. Should have gotten more!

Make A Wish At The Sekinchan Wishing Tree

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Done with lunch? Drive away from the town and fields to Pantai Redang, the seaside portion of Sekinchan. There stands a picturesque ‘Wishing Tree’, which was popularised by a Hong Kong TVB drama and now attracts tourists and shutter bugs who come to snap photos and make their own wishes. Just next to the old tree is a small temple where visitors can make a small donation and write their wishes on one of the red ribbons, weighted on both ends with holed coins. Once you’re done, sling it up onto the branches!

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There are many resident kitties and dogs around the area; some are friendly but always approach with caution.

Protip: Relax on one of the wooden swings under the tree and let the gentle rocking motion lull you into a nap.

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The beach itself isn’t pretty, but there are a couple of elevated huts where you can sit down and enjoy the sea breeze.

 

Fluffy Sheep & Beautiful Mountain Views – Cing Jing Farm, Taichung Taiwan

There are two must visit places while at the Nantou district in Taichung, Taiwan. One is Sun Moon Lake (check out my previous blog post!) , and the other is Cingjing, or Qing Jing Farm – a sprawling farm and tourist attraction high up in the mountains. The weather is chilly due to its high altitude, and a visit here in the different seasons yields a unique experience each time, as the landscape and surrounding greenery changes in spring, summer, autumn and winter.

20170214_155032-tileThe entrance is rather gimmicky – I’d do away with the castle and focus more on the whole rustic farm experience. 🙂

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We got here late and the farm was closing in an hour (!) so we made a beeline for the sheep pasture to catch them grazing before they were herded back to their pens. The landscape was breathtaking, with beautiful mountains shrouded slightly in mist, gentle rolling slopes and orange/red tinted trees all around (our visit was at the end of winter, so vegetation was still sparse and yellowish).

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There was a show area with ponies and horses.

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Early cherry blossoms, just beginning to flower. In Spring, the farm plays host to dozens of these beautiful blooms.

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Finally got to the grazing area! There were a dozen or more sheep, their fluffy beige coats giving them a puffy, fat appearance. Guests can feed them with pellets from a vending machine.

20170214_162121-tile 20170214_162659-tileA couple was there doing a wedding photoshoot. While the view was picturesque, I can’t imagine trudging through the mud and grass for those shots. When the bride was told to sit down and fan her skirt out behind her, I could see her wincing when a curious sheep sat right on her train, while others tried to nibble the hem of her gown! 😛

At 5pm, the shepherds came to get the sheep back to their pens. They whistled from the fence, and the sheep immediately fell into a ‘line’, trotting to the gate. Fascinating. 
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More pink cherry blossoms…

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And white ones!

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Tried out ‘Sheep’s milk ice-cream’. It was more ice than cream, less sweet and more milky.

 

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While you might not be able to see the sunset properly, the view in the evening is lovely. it gets cold so remember to bring a windproof jacket.

Getting There 

From Taichung City, take a 2-hour Nantou bus from Taichung Gancheng Bus Station, or board the bus from Taichung High Speed Rail Station. Bus schedule here:

ntbus.com.tw/cjfm.html 

 

Things to Do at UK Farm Agro Resort Johor, Malaysia – Goat Feeding, Mushroom Farm, etc.

If you’re looking for an experience beyond the usual shopping malls and tourist spots, well. How about visiting a farm?

Established in 2003, UK Farm is located in Kluang Johor, a good three-hour-drive from Kuala Lumpur. Here, visitors can go on guided tours through the largest goat farm in the country.  It also has a mini zoo area, fruit/vegetable/mushroom farm enclosures, picturesque fields and a gimmicky Orang Asli Jakun (aborigine) village. The fam and I came here for a weekend trip, and it was an interesting experience for this born-and-bred city girl.

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The place caters mainly to Chinese visitors, as the tours are conducted in Mandarin and most of the signs are in Chinese. We waited in a park for the ‘bus’ to arrive. There was a giant goat statue in the middle of the park.

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There are horses on the farm, which are used to pull carts with tourists. This one was really sweet and gentle.

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The ‘bus’ was really just a converted lorry, with makeshift wooden beams holding up a roof. The ride to the first stop, the mill, took about three minutes.

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Here, a guide explained to us (in Mandarin.. earning confused looks from my dad who can’t speak Mandarin to save his life) about the feed process, whereby the bushels of grass are cut into smaller blades and fed through a grinder.

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Just next door was the pen, which housed hundreds of goats. They were mostly white, and there were two distinct types – the one with pointy ears and the ones with long droopy ears like Anjali from The Hunchback of Notredame.

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We fed them grass, and while attempting to take a selfie, one of the goats mistook my hair for food lol. I know I don’t have luscious locks but come on.

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The goats were really sweet and didn’t bite at all (except if you counted the one that tried to chew my hair off.)I felt a bit sickened at the thought that they were destined for the slaughterhouse. I guess it feels different because I actually got to see them on the farm. A lot of times people (myself included) ignore the fact that these are animals raised for their meat – because we often get our meat nicely packaged, sealed and cut up. We forget that these are real, live animals.

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It is not common among Western cultures to eat goat meat, but goat is common in Malaysia, especially when cooked with curries and spicy sauces, as it tastes strong and gamey.

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And wtf these kids were so cute all huddled up in a bundle while they were sleeping. T-T

I shall refrain from consuming mutton if I can help it.

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Another short bus ride later, we got to the ‘milking station’. The goats were all lined up in a row with their butts facing the handlers. Their udders were full and swollen at this point, so the workers placed them in a pumping machine and the milk just started squirting out.  The workers then helped by squeezing any remaining milk left over until the udders were saggy and thin again.

The guide said that it didn’t hurt the goats… because if you left the milk in the udders, it would hurt them even more coz they’d get swollen and uncomfortable.

One goat can produce about 1.5L of milk per day. That’s a lot!

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Pasteurised goat milk. It tastes kind of gamey. Goat milk apparently has a lot of beneficial properties, especially for those who can’t take cow’s milk and are lactose intolerant.

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We hopped on the bus to our next stop – the ‘Ostrich Farm’.

The pens were fairly big, but there was only one ostrich out and about. The other two were resting in the shade. We were given corn feed, but the poor ostrich must have been overstuffed because there were too many people attempting to feed it. Annoying, ill mannered children threw the feed into the ostrich’s coat and it clucked at them impatiently. disapproving grunt. I don’t remember being such a pain in the ass when I was young. Kids these days #youknowyouoldwhenyousaythat 

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Just a minute’s walk away was the ‘Orang Asli’ (aborigine) village…. although technically, there was only one ‘villager/employee’ there. He introduced himself as one of the Jakun people from neighbouring Pahang state. The quaint wooden houses with atap roofs were reminiscent of traditional Orang Asli homes. Everything was very basic, with only one room per house.

The kids loved the tree house. I was too big to climb up.

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They caught a ‘wild’ animal lul.

The guy also demonstrated how to shoot a dart using a blowpipe, by bursting a balloon far up in the tree. Wouldn’t want to mess with him

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We stopped by for a rest at a restaurant/souvenir shop area. What are these creepy masks

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Then there was the mushroom farm, where they had a pretty ‘wishing tree’ complete with small wooden gazebo on top and hundreds of prayers from visitors.

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Inside the damp and dark mushroom farm area. I didn’t know they grew them in bottles stuffed with wood shavings and moist earth. They even had ‘lingzhi’, which is a type of fungus prized for its medicinal properties (and very expensive!)

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We tried a few mushrooms snacks, like monkey head ‘satay’ sticks and spicy mushroom/vege salad.

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A board where visitors could leave messages and doodles.

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Our last stop was a mini ‘zoo’ area near the entrance, where chickens, ducks and fowls ran rampant. There was a paddock where visitors paid money to try and catch a herd of goats (?). You get a medal if you manage to catch one. Most of the times, they didn’t but it was hilarious watching people attempt to lol.

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Most. Informative. Board. Ever.

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Le fluffehz. They kept twerking their little butts, so cute.

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We finished our tour with some refreshing passion fruit drinks and goat’s milk ice-cream. The whole visit took about three hours.

If you’re bored and would like a day trip, UK Farm is a good choice to spend a few hours. It’s also educational, both for adults and children – a great place for family or student trips. The entry price is RM47 for adults and RM37 for children; including a bottle for goat feeding, corn and grass feed, as well as snacks.

I think the owners of the farm have excellent entrepreneurship, because aside from just running the farm, they’ve created this tourist destination where people can come and buy products, mingle with the livestock and get educated on the farming process. They even have chalets available for rent, for those who would like a taste of farm/country life.

GETTING THERE 

There are no buses servicing the route, so if you’re not driving, a taxi is your best choice. If you are coming from KL and using the North South Expressway, take the Air Hitam exit. Further down the road there will be many signs guiding you to the farm.

UK FARM/AGRO RESORT 

Plot 8, Project Pertanian Moden Kluang, KM13 Jalan Batu Pahat,
86000 Kluang, Johor, Malaysia.
Tel : +607-759 7555
Fax : +607-759 7991
H/P : 013-778 7235 / 013 – 722 2299
Website: www.ukfarm.com.my
Email: info@ukfarm.com.my