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7 Off-The-Beaten Path Experiences in Selangor

The Malaysian government recently announced that interstate travel is allowed again. After months of isolation, many of us are understandably excited to finally be able to be out and about for leisure. Even so, we should still be vigilant – so here are seven off-the-beaten path experiences you can get in Selangor that are away from the crowds.

LEMON MYRTLE TEA PLANTATION, SEKINCHAN

TEA GARDEN SEKINCHAN 2 by @narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Lemon myrtle is a flowering plant endemic to Australia, where it is grown in abundance and used to make essential oils and tea. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Malaysia has its own lemon myrtle plantation. Organic Lemon Myrtle Plantations has been around since 2010, and is touted as the first of its kind outside Australia. It has several nurseries, including one in Sekinchan.

The farm is usually open to the public, but is now indefinitely closed to visitors pending further updates from local tourism bodies and the government. That doesn’t mean you can’t make plans in advance, though: and visitors can expect experiences such a relaxing nap in hammocks, shopping for products made from myrtle tea at their on-site stall, and more, when the plantation reopens to the public.


PS: Prior to closure, the entrance fee was RM3 for adults and RM1 for children below 7 years of age. The plantation is usually open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 5pm. Stay tuned to their social media for more updates.

Address: Lot 16281, Jalan Tali Air 6 Sekinchan,Selangor Darul Ehsan

SEKINCHAN

SEKINCHAN by @marioncaunter
@marioncaunter

Paddy fields are not something city folk get to see very often, which is what makes a visit to Sekinchan a must for day trippers from Kuala Lumpur. Come during the September to November months to admire vast blankets of green as far as the eye can see, or in December for a sea of rippling gold. Learn more about how paddy is planted, harvested and processed at the Paddy Gallery, where you can also buy sacks of rice (pearl, basmathi, brown, you name it, they got it!)

SEKINCHAN PADDY 2 by @Narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Aside from paddy fields, the enterprising folk of this small agricultural and fishing town have also turned their traditional livelihoods into tourist draws. Stop by Ah Ma House, a quaint wooden shop at the edge of the fields which sells traditional Chinese snacks like biscuits, crackers, snacks and baked goodies the likes of pineapple tarts, kuih kapit and kuih bangkit.

For a detailed guide, check out my blog post on 7 things to do in Sekinchan.

Address: Sekinchan Paddy Fields, Sekinchan, Sabak Bernam, Selangor

THE NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS, SHAH ALAM

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @littlemisshappyfeet

You don’t have to travel far for a quick, green respite: just head to Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (The National Botanic Gardens), a green lung located in the middle of Selangor’s bustling capital. The agro tourism park covers an area of over 817 hectares, part of it designated for leisure, the rest for research.

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @maya_jaafar
@maya_jaafar

Go for a spot of forest bathing underneath the Seraya and Meranti trees which are found in abundance within the reserve, or go hiking along the paved trail to reach Bukit Sapu Tangan(200 metres above sea level), which offers panoramic views of Shah Alam. There are also cactus, orchid and spice gardens to explore, as well as an animal park and fruit gardens. The park’s famous attraction, the four season house, where visitors can experience spring, summer, autumn and winter,is currently closed and will reopen in early 2021.

The entrance fee is RM3 for adults,and RM1 for children (6 to 11 years old) and seniors above 55. Disabled visitors enter for free. Opening hours are from 7.30AM – 4.30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Address: Taman Botani Negara, Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor

SELANGOR RIVER DAM, HULU SELANGOR

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

A dam might seem like an unlikely place to visit, but the Sungai Selangor Dam makes for an interesting destination, especially for nature lovers and photographers. The crystal-clear man-made lake is surrounded by picturesque hills, and visitors can also take part in fishing and cycling activities along the way. Night time sees a sky filled with stars, as the area is far from city lights and pollution.

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

Address: Lookout Point Sungai Selangor Dam, 55, 44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor

PAYA INDAH DISCOVERY WETLANDS, KUALA LANGAT

Paya Indah 4

For those who like peace and quiet, Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands in Kuala Langat makes for the perfect retreat. Filled with trees, large fields and natural plants such as waterlilies, the wetlands are home to over 300 species of animals, and is also a great spot for bird watching.

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Family-friendly fun awaits, with various activities such as feeding rhinos, crocodiles and fish in their enclosures, as well as fishing, kayaking, jungle trekking and more. There’s also a Safari Insta Tour: a 45-minute ride on a truck to three scenic locations within the Wetlands, namely the Bamboo Trail, Lake Sendayan and Rumah Melayu, a traditional kampung(village) house on stilts.

Entrance fee is RM35 on weekdays and RM45 on weekends. MyKad holders enjoy a 20% discount. The Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands is open daily from 8.30am – 4.30pm.

Address: KM 4, Jalan Dengkil, Banting, 43800 Dengkil, Selangor

SELANGOR FRUIT VALLEY, KUALA SELANGOR

Selangor Fruits Valley

If you like local fruits, then a trip to Selangor Fruit Valley should be on your list. The agricultural attraction offers many types of local fruits such as rambutan, papaya, starfruit and guava, which you can enjoy for free (it’s included in your entrance fee!). Aside from the fruit orchards, there are also other attractions such as a mini petting zoo, agricultural centre, traditional houses, and deer and kelulut honey farms.

Don’t feel like walking? Hop on a tram service which takes you around the park, no hassle. When you’re thirsty, drop by the coconut stall to quench your thirst with fresh coconut water. Entrance is RM15 for adults and RM10 for seniors (above 60), children (4 – 12 years old) and the disabled.

Address: Selangor Fruits Valley SFV, Rawang, Berjuntai Bestari, Selangor, Malaysia

PULAU KETAM, KLANG

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Although the name means ‘crab island’, Pulau Ketam is not an actual island; more an amalgamation of homes and buildings built over water. Located off the coast of Port Klang, the place was originally founded by Chinese fishermen in the 1880s and has since become a thriving community. To reach Pulau Ketam, visitors take a ferry (RM14, two-way) or speed boat (RM20 two-way).

Pulau Ketam 1

While the ‘island’ itself is not very big, there are plenty of things to do. Being a fishing village, there are many seafood restaurant where you can take your pick of freshly caught seafood prepared in a variety of ways (salted egg, chilli, kam heong, etc.). Another popular activity is to rent a bike and cycle around the village, which has roads just wide enough for bikes and scooters (there are no cars in the settlement). Aside from colourful murals (a rather recent addition to attract tourists), visitors will also find small but beautiful old Chinese temples and quaint self-built homes made from wood and concrete.

For a more detailed guide, check out my blog post about Things To Do in Pulau Ketam.

Address: Jalan Foreshore, Kawasan 20, 42000 Pelabuhan Klang, Selangor

So there you have it! Which place in Selangor are you looking to travel to next? Remember to always maintain social distancing and adhere to standard operating procedures during your visit.

More information at selangor.travel.

**Photos courtesy of Tourism Selangor.

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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.

 

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.

 

The Sekinchan Wishing Tree & Redang Beach

It’s been such a long time since our last family trip, so even though I had to wake up really early on a Sunday morning, it was worth it 🙂

Anyway, the fam and I went on a daytrip to Sekinchan, a small agricultural and fishing village on the far reaches of Selangor. It has become very popular among local tourists in recent years for its beautiful paddy fields. The village is a 1 1/2 hour drive from KL, and is only accessible by trunk roads. Although the trip is long, the scenic views of quaint Malay villages and small towns along the way make up for it.

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One of the attractions in the area is the Sekinchan Wishing Tree at Redang Beach. The place was featured in a Hong Kong TVB drama and has since become THE place for tourists to take photos. The tree itself is a beautiful sight, with hundreds, if not thousands of wishes written on red strips of cloth weighted down with two coins, then thrown over the branches.

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Just next to it is a simple wooden temple painted red,  where visitors can say prayers and get the wishing knots (or whatever you call them, idk). I’m guessing there’s a small donation to get the knot, but we didn’t get any coz it seemed like a waste of money lol.

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While you’re at it, snap a photo at the ‘I Love Sekinchan’ placard at the base of the tree.

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So many wishes and hopes. I’m sure a few of them have come true. 🙂 What would you wish for if you could throw a wish onto the Sekinchan Wishing Tree?

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Next to the big red tree are a couple of smaller ones and swings, made out of old chairs. I chill for a bit in a hammock underneath the shade. It was cool and breezy; I could have fallen asleep.

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Hammock view.

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Redang Beach is not pretty, if you compare it to places like Ya Nui Beach in Phuket. It’s small but there’s a certain, rustic charm about it. There was a man picking up discarded litter and rubbish from the beach. “Wasn’t that much before the tourists started pouring in,” he lamented when we went to pick shells. People, please, please be more responsible with your trash! A beach is not a garbage dump. If you want to visit a place, leave only footprints and take only memories (and photos).

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Speaking of shells, the beach is littered with them. They’re mostly white and grey, but there were a couple of really pretty ones.

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A rickety treehouse facing the beach.

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For those wanting some cheap produce, there are a few stalls here selling all manner of dried seafood, fermented pastes and snacks like prawn crackers.

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We left the beach to go hunt for food. On the way out, we passed by this congested dock, lined on both sides with wooden village houses.

 

 

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On the suggestion of a local, we stopped by a place called Cha Po Tion. It’s next to a Thai restaurant and can be hard to find coz the signboard is obscured by a tree. The restaurant was packed with customers even though it was only 11am, so we were expecting some good food…

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We were sadly disappointed. We initially wanted squid, but were told that they had run out (at 11am?).  Service was very slow, and we waited a good 45 minutes for food to come.

Mi got so pissed off she started eating plain rice because her gastric was giving her problems. When the food finally arrived, they messed up our order (gave us Kam Heong Shrimp instead of Oyster Sauce Shrimp) and completely forgot another dish (Kam Heong Lala). We were famished by then so we just dug in with no objections. Who knows how long it would take for them to cook up a fresh batch ?

The Hung Joe (red snapper) (RM30) was almost tasteless and the meat was not fresh. Good fish should have a smooth texture that falls off with each spoonful, but this was flaky and felt dry on the tongue, even with all that sauce. You know you’re in deep shit when the fish you serve at a seafood restaurant in a fishing village isn’t fresh.

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The Kam Heong Shrimp (RM16) was slightly better, but they were very stingy on the shrimps, which were miniscule in size, and the dish was mostly stir-fried onions and tomatoes. I would not recommend coming here, despite what the locals say…. or maybe we were just unlucky that we were there on a busy weekend and quality control went down. There are many reviews online which swear by this place.

There is another restaurant further down which is endorsed by a famous celebrity food show host but the prices are more expensive.

CHA PO TION

Jalan Besar Bagan,

Bagan, Sekinchan, 45400, Sekinchan,

Selangor, Malaysia

Opens at 8am

More of Sekinchan to come!