Image

Chee Cheong Fun @ Restaurant King, Batu 14 Puchong

When mentioning food in Batu 14 in Puchong, many would think of the famous Puchong Yong Tao Foo or Yap Chuan Bak Kut Teh. If you like simple and tasty fare, I’m here to introduce another place you can check out in the neighbourhood – Restaurant King, which specializes in chee cheong fun (rice rolls)!

20220924_115754

The shop is a simple, standalone structure, with an air conditioned dining area within. Outside you’ll find staff steaming rice rolls, frying up prawn fritters, and chopping up roasties.

20220924_112742
20220924_112927

The menu offers a good variety. You can get their specialty – the steamed rice rolls – or other items such as rice with roasties (roast pork, chicken, etc.), porridge and soup, as well as dim sum and snacks. The dimsum is not the freshly made variety, but the standard ones you get from most kopitiams or food trucks.

20220924_113245

Fun fact: chee cheong fun has an interesting moniker – it translates to something like ‘pig’s intestine noodles’. This is due to their elongated shape, slightly transclucent appearance, and elastic texture. The noodles are made from rice flour; the mix is poured over a hot flat surface until it solidifies into a sheet, before being ‘rolled’ into it’s final shape. It’s a very versatile dish and can be served in numerous ways: in different parts of Malaysia with a Chinese diaspora, we’ve adapted it to suit our Malaysian-Chinese taste buds. Penang chee cheong fun, for example, is served with dark sauce, chilli, and shrimp paste, while in Ipoh, they serve it with mushroom sauce.

Restaurant King specializes in Hong Kong style chee cheong fun, where various meats such as char siew – bbq pork, and shrimp, are rolled into the noodles and act as a filling. The noodles are then drenched in light soy sauce, and topped with fried shallots.

I quite enjoy the version here! They’ve stuffed it generously with fried onions, the char siew has a gentle and smoky sweet taste, and the noodles are smooth on the surface with a chewy texture. Price ranges from around RM8 to RM13 for the chee cheong fun.

20220924_113124

The Hubs has mostly enjoyed Malaysian food so far, but for some reason he does not like chee cheong fun (that, and apparently I traumatised him the first time we ate Bak kut teh by ordering too much). So he ordered rice with char siew instead. It was decent; the char siew was not too fatty, and the sauce was well balanced.

20220924_112955

My personal favourite has got to be their shrimp fritters (har beng). Some people like their fritters to be thin and crunchy, but I prefer the version here which is quite thick and loaded with shrimp.

Despite the thickness, they’re very crunchy on the outside. Restaurant King’s fritters do not feel greasy at all, so I don’t get that cloying feeling after more than a few bites. The garlicky chilli sauce also helps to cut through the greasiness. Order a glass of calamansi sour plum (kat zai suen mui) and you’re all set!

PS: Hubs also had a char siew bao, but it was pretty ordinary. Nice fluffy bun but lacked filling.

20220924_113248

And there you have it! A simple but satisfying meal for breakfast or lunch that won’t break the bank. It’s definitely one of those places you can come to regularly if you live around the area. Service is decent as well.

RESTAURANT KING

Lorong Jejawi, Kampung Baru Batu 14 Puchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor. (across the road from SJKC Han Ming)

Open: 7.30AM – 6PM (Closed Mondays)

I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

Image

Down to Bones, Eco Sanctuary Mall

Ask any KL-based BBQ pork lover where they get their fix, and chances are you’ll hear Down to Bones being mentioned. Started as a pop-up store that only ran on weekends, their Texas-style BBQ ribs proved so popular, they expanded to a proper shop in OUG. Today, the shop attracts long queues, especially over the weekends.

20220814_184815

If you live in the South Klang Valley, you can get the same goodness, minus the crowds, as Down to Bones has a branch in Eco Sanctuary Mall. Apparently they opened three years ago, but I didn’t know the place existed until I Googled.

The resto can be empty, even on weekends. It’s not surprising, as the location is quite remote, all the way in Telok Panglima Garang. But the plus point is you get to enjoy your meal in peace and quiet, without having to hustle because someone else is hovering over your table!

20220814_184802
20220814_180118

We came here around 6-ish on a Saturday evening and had the whole place to ourselves. Service was fast, although the food took some time to serve since they cook it to order. Their menu is virtually identical to the one you’ll find at their OUG outlet. Aside from BBQ pork ribs, you can also get items such as buttermilk fried chicken and pasta.

20220814_180106

The decor is also similar to their main outlet, albeit pared down. This has a more ‘canteen’ like feel to it, compared to OUG’s Instagramable aesthetics.

20220814_182051

The Hubs had the signature Ultra Ribs (RM34), featuring two humongous sticks of ribs, drenched in house sauce and served with coleslaw and a sausage. I liked the sauce as it was tangy and spicy. The ribs were decent as well, especially the parts with fat which made the meat soft and tender. Some parts were rather tough and stringy though; not sure if that’s just how it is with ribs because I recall saying something similar in my previous review at their OUG outlet.

20220814_182030

20220814_181853

I wanted pasta, so I went for the Butter Sauce Spaghetti (RM24). The sauce tasted similar to the local dai chow buttermilk, with a hint of curry leaves and bird’s eye chilli adding some kick. The pasta was cooked al dente, topped with juicy pieces of fried pork, a beautiful egg yolk, and sliced pork sausages.

While I enjoyed the initial bites, the creaminess got cloying after awhile. The butter sauce was good, but there wasn’t much to cut through the greasiness ,and it tasted very bland for some reason – I could taste a hint of butter, but mostly it was just salty without depth of flavour. It’s not a bad dish, but I think it could have been better.

So my second trip to Down to Bones turned out a little underwhelming. Perhaps in my mind, DTB OUG gave me such a good first impression that this paled in comparison. To be fair, the food wasn’t bad – it is fresh, hot food. It just wasn’t wow. But I guess if we ever crave some ribs and don’t want to drive all the way to OUG or queue up for an hour, this place would tick the right boxes.

DOWN TO BONES

G-33&G-33A, Ground Floor, Sanctuary Mall, Lot 41296, Persiaran Eco Sanctuary, 42500 Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM (weekends), 11AM – 9PM (weekdays)

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

PS 2: I wanted to update more often, but my health has been sucky lately and a physical condition has rendered it difficult for me to touch my keyboard for long periods at a time. It sucks. But I’m trying a new treatment, hopefully it’ll work out and I can get my health on track again! I’ve been so depressed I’ve just been eating shit and haven’t been working out or focusing on my mental health.

Image

7-Eleven Flagship Store @ Bandar Puteri Puchong Has a Cafe / Bookstore in it !

Konbini ( convenience store) culture has really taken off in Malaysia in the last couple of years – touting not just convenience, but a lifestyle.

Family Mart has its popular oden counter (in Japan, it’s only available in summer, but you can get it all year round in Malaysia), ice blended drinks straight from the fridge, and soft serve ice cream. Meanwhile, Korean franchise CU and local brand Mix.com.my carry a wide variety of imported snacks, with unique products like self-heating hotpot meals.

But 7-Eleven?

Despite being one of the OG konbinis in Malaysia, the brand has been slow in the uptake when it comes to attracting younger clientele. Most of their stores look dull and uninspiring, with generic products you can get at any supermarket or local kedai runcit. The only thing they have that other brands don’t is their Slurpee machine – and that doesn’t even work 9 times out of 10 lol. Which is sad, because I’ve been to 7-Elevens in Thailand, and they. are. awesome.

20220606_141153

Someone in the Malaysian management must have thought the same, because they leveled up with a 7-Eleven flagship store in Bandar Puteri Puchong; also the brand’s largest in Malaysia. Spanning two storeys, it even has a cafe and a bookstore within. About time you upgraded, 7-E! And judging by the endless crowds here, it seems like they’ve finally figured out what makes their customers tick.

20220606_135900

The ground floor is where they have the usual konbini stuff, but there’s a much larger variety of products available than the usual 7-E. Aside from snacks, ice cream, and beverages, they also sell frozen goods tgat you can cook at home such as fried chicken patties, nuggets, and the like. There’s also a counter with ready-to-eat meals including rice, pasta, onigiri, and sandwiches that you can request to be heated up.

20220606_135907
They carry imported Japanese ice creams here, which is a step up from the usual Nestle / Cornetto / local ice creams available at other 7-E stores.
20220606_135930
20220606_135934
20220606_140006
20220606_140114
20220606_135945

There’s a cabinet selling 7-E merch – but unless you’re a hardcore 7-E fan, nobody in their right mind would pay RM99 for a tumbler lol.

20220606_140036
20220606_140023
20220606_141026
Hot meals, ice blended drinks, and small bites available at the counter.
20220606_140218

Snacks aren’t the only thing at the store – toy enthusiasts can also find a nice collection of FunkoPop figurines.

20220606_140335

Time to head upstairs! The first floor houses a cafe and mini bookstore, in collaboration with popular green tea cafe Niko Neko Matcha, and local bookstore chain Book Xcess, respectively. The space is beautifully designed – spacious, clean, and minimalist; with an island counter in the middle where baristas whip up drinks.

20220606_140428
20220606_140412
Grab some pastries to go with your beverage.
20220606_140500
Green tea based drinks and cookies.
20220606_140542
Skincare products on display
20220606_140602
20220606_140357

You can browse while you’re waiting for your orders.

There’s not a big selection, but it was enough to tempt me to get a couple of books (to join the rest of the unread pile at home, lol).

20220606_140533
There are children’s books, stationery, and toys/decorative figurines as well.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to the 7-Eleven experience store – this is what konbinis should be about! According to this article by Marketing Interactive, it seems like the brand is planning to have more of these concept stores soon; so here’s to 7-E no longer being bland, boring, and blah!

7-ELEVEN FLAGSHIP STORE PUCHONG

No. 22A, Jalan Puteri 1/2, Bandar Puteri, 47100, Puchong, Selangor.

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

Image

The Owls Cafe, Sunway Pyramid

Known for their signature waffles and hearty Western-style brunches, The Owls Cafe already has several successful branches under their belt. Their latest venture, The Owls Cafe at Sunway Pyramid, is no exception, drawing long queues of hungry diners on weekends. Weekdays are a quieter affair, so if you’re able to, drop by for a relaxing brunch, minus the crowd.

20220712_113650
20220712_113701

Like their outlet in Bukit Jalil, The Owls Cafe at Sunway Pyramid is bright and cheerful, with floor to ceiling windows that allow plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. They also provide panoramic views of the Sunway Pyramid theme park below. The central island counter is where staff members busy themselves preparing coffee and tea, the aroma of which wafts across the air to where you’re seated.

20220712_113724

20220712_114240

The Hubs wanted something lighter, and opted for the Junior Meal of Mac n Cheese. The portion was still pretty generous, with al dente pieces of macaroni tossed in a sweet and savoury tomato base topped with gooey melted cheese.

20220712_114430

Fragrant oolong tea was served in an adorable owl-shaped cup.

20220712_114750

My favourite dish here when I’m craving for something savoury is the Salted Egg Yolk Pasta. The pasta’s texture is just perfect, and the sauce is rich and creamy without being cloying, coating each strand of pasta with delicious umami. Another highlight is the deep fried chicken karaage, which are juicy, and moist, perfectly battered, and very crispy.

While we did not get to order any of their signature waffles, would gladly make a return visit (on a weekday, because the weekend crowds are crazy!) for their awesome food and great service.

Prices are typical for a cafe, ranging around RM15 to RM20++ for mains.

THE OWLS CAFE

Unit G1.PT.08, Ground Floor, Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre, Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Open daily: 10AM – 10PM

Image

Tian Hock Kung – The Snake Temple of Klang

I’ve always had a fascination with temples—and being raised a Buddhist (the faith of which a majority of Malaysian Chinese people profess to), I’ve been to my fair share of unique places of worship in Malaysia. Among them are:

But just when I think I’ve seen it all, my backyard surprises me with a hidden gem — Tian Hock Kung, also dubbed the “Snake Temple of Klang”. I chanced upon some pictures online while doing research; there wasn’t a lot of info available in English, but it was enough to pique my inner travel journalist. So I decided to drag the Hubs, a fellow person of culture, on an impromptu adventure to seek out the place.

20220625_135359

Once the capital of Selangor, Klang is one of the region’s oldest cities, known for its colonial buildings and rich heritage sites. It has a huge Hokkien Chinese population, and as such, there are dozens of beautiful Chinese temples within the city, some of which are over a hundred years old.

Tian Hock Kung is tucked in a quiet locality next to the Klang River, a few minutes drive from the city centre. There are no signs along the way pointing to the temple and the building is hidden from the main road by foliage, but it’s not that difficult to find (you can Waze there, or look out for Klinik Kesihatan Sungai Berthek, which is just next to it).

Even though it was a weekend, and most temples would have seen at least some visitors, it was so quiet that we thought the place was not open to visitors. But since the gate was open, we ventured in cautiously. No caretaker was present; we were greeted only by a skinny black and white dog, ie the informal temple guardian.

20220625_135614

On the outside, Tian Hock Kung looks like an ordinary Chinese temple, with all the elements — curved orange roofs, lots of red, typical Chinese motifs. But as you walk closer, you’ll see why they call it Snake Temple.

In place of dragons or phoenixes, which are common motifs that represent auspiciousness and prosperity, you’ll find dozens of life-like snake statues and carvings; coiled around pillars in menacing poses and perched atop roofs.

20220625_135720

Even for someone without ophidophobia (fear of snakes), looking at the figures can trigger a feeling of uneasiness — even though they are clearly not alive. I think it stems from a primal sort of fear : a NatGeo article suggests that fear of snakes may be hardwired, a remnant from a time when being wary of dangerous animals gave humans an evolutionary advantage. Even though only one in five snakes are venomous (a smaller number are fatal to humans), and snakes are generally shy creatures that would run away from people rather than attack them, I think the natural reaction for many of us towards snakes is to get the hell away from them, lol.

20220625_140937
20220625_135748
A large green snake figure surrounded by flowers and plants on a giant wheeled float.

There is also, perhaps, another reason why we fear snakes. Their appearance and slithering movements seem cold and alien; far removed from mammals like ourselves, and so unlike cuddly, furry animals such as dogs and cats.

PS: For those unaware, a majority of the Malaysian Chinese population subscribe to an amalgamation of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, the latter two which incorporates many elements of traditional Chinese folklore and pagan practices of ancestor worship. Tian Hock Kung is primarily a Taoist temple, but it has a Guanyin statue as well, which is worshipped in both Buddhism as a bodhisattva, and Taoism as a deity/god.

20220625_135641

So why does this temple have so many representations of snakes?

Since I couldn’t find a caretaker to answer my questions, I can only rely on info I found online (most of these are written in Mandarin, which I can’t read lol and had to Google translate— so excuse me if I get some things wrong in translation).

The deities worshipped here are three sworn brothers, and like many Taoist deities, they are based on real historical figures. They are Zhang Gong Sheng Jun, Xiao Gong Sheng Jun, and Hong Gong Sheng Jun. You will find their statues inside the temple, with the main deity sporting a green face.

I’m not 100% sure which brother it is (I think it’s Zhang Gong Sheng Jun) but the god has an affinity for snakes and was known for defeating a thousand-year old snake demon. He also carries a magical weapon that used to be a snake which he subdued. You can read about the legend here.

20220625_140102

The interior of the temple is quite spacious, and the ceiling features an octagonal window with a Yin Yang motif — the primary symbol of Taoism — surrounded by other Taoist symbols that represent the different Immortals, such as the fan, gourd, iron crutch, and flute. In the centre of the room are several small but intricately carved wooden shrines with wooden seats on them (I’ve seen this before and I think they’re used to carry the deity statues out on religious parades). During our visit, there were also large stacks of paper offerings, sorted into neat bundles.

20220625_135956

Of course, it won’t be a Snake Temple without at least one resident snake — a huge albino python in a cage in the corner. Apparently snakes used to come here from time to time (on their own). According to a China Press article, in 2011, a six-foot-long python climbed into the temple and made a cozy nook for itself behind the altar, just before the deity’s birthday celebration. However, the snakes don’t come anymore, likely due to the surrounding neighbourhood’s development.

PS2: The northern state of Penang, another Chinese majority place, also has a snake temple, but instead of being in cages, the snakes roam freely around the temple. The history behind that temple is super interesting too, but I haven’t visited, and that would be a story for another time.

20220625_140519
Wall paintings. I think they tell the story of the deities worshipped at this temple.
Not being able to read Chinese characters is a real bummer. :c
20220625_140429

The main altar has been designed to look like a cave, complete with stalactites and outcroppings. There are three nooks, each housing one deity. The main one, as mentioned, has a green face, with a dragon on its back, and many smaller deities at the base. There are also large snakes with glowing LED eyes on each side of the central altar.

Unlike Buddhist statues, which often have serene, calm expressions, Taoist gods can appear quite….intimidating. In Cantonese, we call it having a strong sat hei, or ‘killing’ aura — ie a fierce disposition which is meant to scare away evil. You need not fear if you’re not an evil-doer, but those with evil in their hearts, beware.

20220625_140543
More paper offerings, these in the shape of clothes.
20220625_140554
Why pineapples? Pineapples are symbols of prosperity and good luck — the Hokkien word for pineapple ‘ong lai’, sounds like ‘prosperity comes’.
20220625_140612
20220625_141023

The entire time we were roaming around and taking photos, there was not a soul in sight. I would have liked to speak to the caretaker to understand more about the place, but it was also a positive experience in a way, as I could take my time exploring without having to worry about bothering anyone.

20220625_141247

While on my way to the toilet, I chanced upon an area that was almost hidden from sight, adjacent to the main building. Peeking in, I saw that it was a shrine to the Taoist god of the underworld, Yanluo Wang. The entrance was designed to look like the gates of Hell, flanked by Hell’s guardians in Chinese mythology, Ox-Head and Horse-Face. As the name suggests, they have the bodies of men, but the head of an ox and the face of a horse. They are believed to escort newly deceased souls to face Yan Wang’s judgement, where they will subsequently be sent to the different levels of hell for punishment, based on their earthly crimes, or sent on to heavenly realms if they’ve been good people. Trivia: Japanese mythology has similar beliefs, where they are known as Gozu and Mezu.

20220625_141323

If what the temple committee wanted to achieve was to evoke a sense of fear and apprehension, then they certainly succeeded. The shrine was located lower than ground level, so visitors would have to descend steps to get closer (I did not because no way, Jose), and it was also bathed in an eerie blue light.

Instead, I respectfully (call me superstitious if you like, better safe than sorry!) asked for permission to take photos (the husband, a Christian, looked at me with a funny expression at what must seem to him absurd; ie me talking to the air, lol).

There were baskets of paper offerings lined up on one side of the shrine, a small table and chair on the other with some teapots (for mediums to channel the gods, perhaps?) on the other. Like at the main shrine, Yanluo Wang’s shrine was made to look like a cave, with the deity elevated on an outcropping, flanked by his assistants, the Black and White Guards (Heibai Wuchang). Taoism is heavy on balance, and like the concept of Yin and Yang, the Hei Bai Wuchang represent rewarding the good, and punishing the evil.

20220625_141656
20220625_141740
20220625_141901

Before leaving, I paid a visit to the Na Tuk Kong shrine within the temple’s compound. You might be wondering why there’s a dome resembling a mosque, and why the deity within seems to be wearing traditional Malay clothes. Well, when the Chinese migrated to Malaya centuries ago, they brought their folk worship beliefs with them; that is, paying respects to the local guardians and spirits they may encounter in this new land. Malays probably have another word for it — penunggu.

Klang’s Snake Temple is an interesting look into the Malaysian Chinese community’s way of life, culture, and beliefs. It’s a unique mixture of adherence to long held traditions passed down through hundreds, perhaps thousands of years – combined with new influences shaped by centuries of migration and assimilation. Definitely one of the more unique temples around!

TIAN HOCK KUNG (KLANG SNAKE TEMPLE 巴生天福宫)

Lot 3115 & 3116, Jalan Siakap, Jln Tepi Sungai, Taman Teluk Pulai, 41100 Klang, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 11PM (daily)

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

Image

Pulau Ketam Day Trip 2022 — Selangor’s Unique “Crab Island”

If a foreign friend was traveling to Malaysia for the first time, where would you recommend they visit?

Perhaps Melaka for its rich history, Penang for its art and food, Langkawi for its gorgeous beaches, or Sabah and Sarawak for beautiful nature. Not forgetting Kuala Lumpur—the bustling metropolis and the heart of the Malaysian economy—with its eclectic mix of skyscrapers, glitzy malls, colonial shophouses, and chic cafes; a true melting pot of the region’s culture and influences.

Pulau Ketam, however, is probably not the first place that comes to mind. That should change — because it’s an excellent spot for visitors seeking something truly immersive and local. Doubly so for the Malaysians who have yet to pay this place a visit! You might be surprised at the unique experiences you can find in your own backyard.

Here’s a video for the lazy-to-read people. Also to give you a ‘feel’ of how it’s like on the island!

Located off the coast of Port Klang in Selangor, Pulau Ketam (or Crab Island) is a fishing village established in the 1880s by Teochew and Hokkien Chinese immigrants. The settlement, built on mudflats surrounded by mangroves, is known for its quaint homes and elevated pathways built over stilts, which gives them the appearance of floating over water during high tide. What started as a small fishing village soon grew; today, the island hosts some 1,000 homes.

In the past, the main industry in Pulau Ketam was fishing, but tourism now contributes a major part to the local economy as well. Visitors to the place are mostly Malaysians; the few times I have been here, I have not seen many foreign tourists. All the more reason to put it on your itinerary !

20220514_104225

GETTING THERE

Since there are no roads connecting the island to the mainland, villagers have their own boats in lieu of cars whenever they need to travel for supplies. As for visitors, the only way to access Pulau Ketam is via ferry from the South Port Terminal in Port Klang. If you’re driving, you can park your car at the Asa Niaga Habour City compound, next to the terminal.

The terminal can be quite warm, and crowded on busy days, but there is a canteen where you can order drinks and finger food, as well as stalls selling snacks. There are several ferry operators here, so once you step into the terminal you’ll be greeted by touts yelling out prices.

We went for the Alibaba Cruise (RM20 – return tickets, RM12 – one way) which is slightly cheaper than a speedboat. Regretted this decision, as even though they have scheduled departure times, they still waited for the boat to be full before they left the port. We waited more than 45 minutes on the boat, which was supposed to leave at 11.30AM, but only left around 12.15PM. -_-

20220514_111601

Either way, off to Pulau Ketam we go!

The ride takes about 30 to 40 minutes. If your boat has a deck on top, I suggest sitting there so you get a nice view of the mangroves. But maybe not in the afternoon because the weather can get extremely hot.

20220514_120358

WHAT TO DO ON PULAU KETAM

I last came here in 2016 and made a blog post about my trip (read it here) – so you can check the post out if you want a gist. This time around, I’m going to share more photos and commentary, because on my previous trip I didn’t really get to explore as much as I wanted to.

20220514_150016

Walk along the pier and enjoy the breeze. If you come in the afternoon, when the tide is low, you’ll see hundreds of tiny crabs and mudskippers crawling around in the mud (hence the name Crab Island).

20220514_124246

A new addition since my visit in 2016 – colourful signage and some nautical/ocean-inspired art installations. You’ll also find some interesting murals scattered around the island.

20220514_124535

Houses on Pulau Ketam are built on stilts measuring around 1 to 10 metres above the water. Most of the structures are made of either wood or concrete, as are the walkways that form an intricate maze connecting the many different parts of the village. Because of how narrow the streets are, there are no large vehicles, only motorbikes and bicycles. You can rent a bike to get around the island, but I prefer exploring on foot, since you can really take your time to soak in the sights.

Take note that most of the bikes are electric. Since they don’t produce a lot of noise, you have to be aware of your surroundings while making your way through the alleyways!

20220514_124855
20220514_124919

Despite it’s remote location, Pulau Ketam is well equipped with all sorts of facilities. They have their own police station and volunteer fire brigade, 3 primary schools and a secondary school, a post office, and even a Maybank (so don’t worry if you’re strapped for cash – there’s an ATM machine within).

The internet and call quality is probably better than what I get at home (thanks for the ‘coverage’, Digi!), and they also have a constant supply of electricity and water from the mainland. You might still find a couple of homes with a rainwater harvesting system, which is what they used before a direct water supply was installed in 1991.

20220514_124758
Mini post office and souvenir shop.
20220514_125023

Pulau Ketam’s Jalan Besar (main street) bustles with activity, flanked by seafood restaurants, snack stalls and souvenir shops. It was high time for lunch, so we popped into one called Restoran Kim Hoe.

20220514_125631
Very Chinese decor. Bright red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, red fans, auspicious paper cutouts, red chairs and round tables, all the trimmings.
20220514_131819

It was just the Hubs and me and we didn’t want to overstuff ourselves, so we went for fried squid and kam heong style bamboo clams to go with our rice. The squid was fresh and springy, the batter deep fried to crunchy perfection. There was some seasoning in the batter so it wasn’t bland, and the chilli sauce complemented it well too.

20220514_131025

Bamboo clams get their name from their long, cylindrical shells. I think they taste like a meatier cross between oysters and Live Venus clams (what we call in Malaysia and Singapore as ‘lala’).

Because shellfish tends to have a briny, ‘fishy’ smell, they are usually cooked with strong spices such as curry and kam heong. FYI, kam heong is Cantonese for ‘golden and fragrant’ – a fitting name for an aromatic, rich sauce made from dried shrimps, curry powder, shallots, and garlic. Here’s another fun tidbit: kamheong is a Malaysian Chinese creation! Chinese immigrants here took influences from their Malay and Indian neighbours (hence the curry powder, dried shrimps, and other spices), added it into their own cooking, and voila.

The version at Restoran Kim Hoe is tasty. The clams were not cleaned thoroughy so there was a bit of sand left in them, but I understand that it’s difficult to get the sand out entirely sometimes. Otherwise, an excellent dish!

20220514_134224
Having had our tummies filled, it was time to explore the streets.
20220514_134444

Chinese immigrant communities back in the day were deeply religious and had strong beliefs in gods and the supernatural. More so for a fishing village, as they were dependent on the sea and nature for a living. As such, you’ll still find many temples scattered across the settlement. The one right after main street is probably the most photographed/popular, but if you wander deeper, you’ll find other temples too. Although small in size, the temples are colourful and richly adorned – great for photography.

20220514_142753
20220514_134508
20220514_134608
I love the detailing here! Aside from dragons, which are a common motif in Chinese temples, you can also see that they have crabs, as well as other sea creatures like shrimps, squid, octopi, and fish.
20220514_135038
An empty wooden altar in the hall next to the temple with phoenix, dragon, and cloud motifs.
20220514_135405
A shrine dedicated to the Thousand Hand Guanyin.
20220514_134821

Since most of the villagers built their own homes, no two houses on Pulau Ketam are the same and each boasts unique features. They’re mostly single storey, but there are some grander double storey homes as well. They’re also painted in various colourful shades. No two homes next to each other have the same colour – I wonder if they discussed beforehand like “Hey, I’m going to paint my house yellow, so maybe you can take blue instead?” xD

20220514_134848
Instead of cars, villagers have boats parked next to piers in front of their homes.
20220514_134917
20220514_141855
20220514_135819

Keep your eyes peeled for interesting murals. I like this creative piece – if you look more closely, you’ll find that the yellow guy on the left has an Ultraman tattoo on his belly drawn in the style of a Chinese deity!

20220514_140953

Many homes on Pulau Ketam leave their doors unlocked during the day – something almost impossible to see in the big city. But I guess if you’re stuck on an island (with their own police station to boot), it’s going to be pretty hard to run anywhere unless you have your own boat…

20220514_141015

A local Datuk Gong shrine.

Fun fact: a lot of people don’t know this, but the deity/spirit that the Malaysian Chinese here worship as Datuk Gong is actually – wait for it – Malay! That’s why you’ll often see the figure within these shrines dressed in traditional Malay clothing, such as a songkok and sarong.

The story goes that when Chinese immigrants came to Malaya, they brought their folk worship beliefs with them (specifically the worship of Tudi, or the god of the earth/the local deity of whatever land they’ve settled in). It was believed that the Chinese back then blended it with the animisme that some Malays practiced in ancient times, before they embraced Islam – hence why Datuk Gong has the appearance of a Malay personage.

This belief is also prevalent in other Nusantara Chinese communities, such as in Indonesia and Singapore.

20220514_141315
Someone’s hall in front of their house, complete with rocking chair to wile away the hours.
20220514_143134
More colourful homes. Some of these have been renovated and turned into homestays, but the more traditional ones are still made of wood.
20220514_142704
Another temple.
20220514_135604

20220514_143034
20220514_143231
A Taoist temple with a hexagonal window featuring the Yinyang symbol. There were a few very old, weathered looking statues within. Unfortunately the temple was not open during our visit.
20220514_143455

A clan association building.

Clan associations were the OG social networks – a place where people could mingle, and where they could go to for support, especially financially. In the 1800s, when many Chinese emigrated overseas in search for a better life, they often travelled long distances and arrived on distant shores with nothing but the clothes on their back. Clan associations were founded as a way to offer a support network for its members, and to build camaraderie and a spirit of kinship in a place far from home.

The associations would pool together resources to help solve problems that their members might face, such as securing a loan so start a business, buying land for burial, or building temples. They also facilitated personal and business introductions, and acted as important links to their homelands back in China. Some of these clan associations became very wealthy and powerful, such as the Khoo clan in Penang.

Today, clan associations are dying off because the roles they used to fulfill have been taken over by modern institutions such as banks or business associations. Also, many Malaysian Chinese communities no longer have any links to China. Their role, if any, has evolved to focus more on culture, education, and social service.

20220514_143646
A villager’s garden, filled with gorgeous blooms.
20220514_143705
20220514_144105
20220514_144851

Pulau Ketam is not very big, and you can probably explore everything within the day. We were done by 3.30PM, caught the next ferry back, and reached Port Klang by 5PM.

To be honest, nothing much has changed (aside from the addition of a couple more homestays?) – but that’s the beauty of living in a village like this. Seasons change, but the essence of the place – it’s quaint charm, the friendliness of the locals – remain constant. Personally, I love the story behind how Pulau Ketam came to be, as it’s a testament to the resilience of the Chinese immigrant community in Malaysia, most of whom came to Malaya with nothing, and built a life for themselves here.

There are a couple of things to remember while planning a trip here:

  • Bring a hat or sunscreen, as the weather gets super hot. Maybe because they don’t really have trees to shade the place, or because they’re located in an intertidal zone.
  • Most places operate with cash, but some have upgraded to accept e-wallets too.
  • Please remember these are actual homes and that there are people living in them, so be respectful.
  • The last ferry from Pulau Ketam leaves at 6PM on weekends, and 5PM on weekdays. While chatting with a local, she told me that some tourists forget this, miss the last boat, and are forced to spend the night on the island lol. Be mindful of the time!

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

Day Trip to Bukit Malawati, Kuala Selangor

The beauty about living in Malaysia is that as a multicultural society, we have loads of holidays for each of the major ethnic groups/religions in Malaysia. So even though I don’t celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Fitr (or Hari Raya as it’s known colloquially), my office still gave us a three-day break. Plus the weekend, I had five days off – plenty of time for some R&R!

The Hubs and I did not plan to go to the usual tourist places like Penang/Malacca, as the highways were extremely congested – but we did a short day trip to Kuala Selangor, where we got into some… monkey business. Literally.

20220430_150404

Located about 70km from Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Selangor, or “Estuary of Selangor”, lies at the point where the Selangor River meets the sea. Surrounded by forest and mangroves, it was once the capital of the Selangor sultanate in the 18th century, thanks to its strategic location. Today, the town oozes a sleepy, laidback vibe, but is well equipped with facillities, including major banks, a school for sciences, a firestation, and places of worship.

20220430_135046

We arrived a little after lunch and hopped onto the tram (a modified vehicle with carriages attached to a tractor). For RM5 (locals) and RM10 (foreigners), it ferries you up to the top of Bukit Malawati. Along the way, you’ll pass by large boulders on the hillside – all that remains of the ancient Malawati Fort.

Built during the Malacca Sultanate in the 16th century, the fort offered a strategic vantage point, with its steep hill face and surrounding mangrove swaps acting as natural defensive ramparts. It fell to Dutch invasion in the 18th century, and they renamed it Altingburg, fortifying its walls and strengthening the fort with cannons. They also built a lighthouse on top of the hill. A year later, a surprise attack by Selangor sultanate forces drove the Dutch back to sea. It remained under Malay rule until the late 19th century, when British gunboats pounded the walls to smithereens.

20220430_140418

These days, people come for more than just the history: they come to see monkeys! A colony of silverleafed monkeys (and a couple of macaques) call the hill summit home. Because the hill is a tourist attraction, the primates are used to humans, and are reliant on them for their source of food. There are peddlers here selling food like bananas and fruits that you can feed to the animals, but beware because the animals will climb onto you to get your food.

20220430_135701

The silverleafed monkey, or silvery lutung, is an Old World ape endemic to the forests of Sumatra, Borneo, and Peninsular Malaysia. They are categorized as vulnerable, with populations declining due to deforestation and loss of habitat. Like their namesake, they have silvery fur, although babies are golden with pale skin.

20220430_140443
20220430_143816

The summit of the hill is the highest point for miles around, affording visitors panoramic views of the river winding towards the sea. There are a couple of canons here as well, but I’m not sure if they are well preserved originals or just replicas.

20220430_140253

Also here you will find the Baitulhilal, a moonsighting pavilion, which I believe our Muslim religious authorities use to sight the moon on the eve of Ramadhan, which would then signify the beginning of the holy month.

20220430_140117
20220430_141722

Another prominent landmark here is the Altingsburg Lighthouse, built by the Dutch and spruced up by the British almost a century on. Unfortunately you can’t access the buildling, but the views from the outside are still great, and it looks well maintained. Within its grounds is a museum chronicling the history of the fort, but it wasn’t open during our visit.

20220430_140800

We spent some time enjoying the sea breeze under the cool shade of the trees while watching the monkeys. It was fascinating to see them interacting with each other; relaxing on the branches, playfully chasing one another, jumping across branches, fighting, grooming – very human interactions.

20220430_142032

If you’re up to a walk around the area, there are a couple of interesting historical attractions to see, including a Poisoned Well, where traitors were apparently lowered into a mix of poisonous latex and juice from bamboo shoots, undergoing a slow and painful death. There’s also a large stone slab, where legend has it that a palace maiden was beheaded for adultery.

20220430_145229

We spent about an hour on the summit, before returning to town and driving 2 minutes away (the weather was scorching, it wasn’t coz we were lazy lol) to Auntie Foo, a cafe in the middle of town. Only outdoor seating was available as they told us the inside was ‘reserved’ (we came and went, but no one showed up though) – so we had to sit on the verandah. It was still fairly cool, as are most of the old shophouses. Perhaps something to do with the design and materials used in the old days?

20220430_150436

Auntie Foo serves mostly Western and Asian fare. We already had lunch, so we got some dessert to quench our thirst and cool down from the sweltering heat. The cendol was nice but the portion was small; the Hubs gulped it down within two mouthfuls. The Ais Kacang, on the other hand, was humongous, topped with a dollop of sweet vanilla ice cream, crushed peanuts, rose syrup, and other goodies.

20220430_151150
20220430_152725

The cafe also sells souvenirs and handicrafts.

20220430_152823
20220430_152934

Aside from visiting the hill and its monkeys, there are a lot of other things you can do in Kuala Selangor, namely firefly watching at night on the river, and taking photos at the Sasaran Sky Mirror beach (which is often dubbed the Salar Uyuni of Malaysia, because the beach appears like a mirror at certain hours of the day). You can also go eagle feeding, or take a hike at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park.

As our trip was kinda spontaneous, we were content with just visiting Bukit Malawati and enjoying the relaxing drive. If you like the laidback vibe of small towns, history, and nature, it’s worth the drive for a daytrip, or even an overnight stay as there are plenty of homestays and boutique hotels around.

Getting There

Kuala Selangor is best accessed by car. Driving along the North-South Highway, exit at Sungai Buloh and follow the signs towards Kuala Selangor. There are buses plying the route as well, but I wasn’t able to find updated information online.

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee, Damen Mall USJ

You’ve probably heard of pan mee (or ban mian, literally ‘board noodles’), the popular Chinese noodle dish served in soup, with various condiments such as minced pork and anchovies. But did you know that chilli pan mee is a wholly Malaysian invention?

Chilli pan mee traces its roots to Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur in 1985—the brainchild of one Tan Kok Hong, proprietor of the now legendary Kin Kin Pan Mee restaurant. Tan initially sold regular soup pan mee, but noticed his patrons adding chillies to their dishes. After a lot of experimentation, the chilli pan mee that we know today was born. I think it’s an excellent example of how the Malaysian-Chinese diaspora have taken elements of local culture and blended it into their cuisine, birthing something unique altogether.

20220331_130528

It has been ages since I last had a solid bowl of chilli pan mee. The cravings led the Hubs and I to DaMen Mall in USJ, where Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee has a small branch within the mall’s non-halal food court. I have tried the chain’s SS2 outlet and it is consistently good, so I was expecting the same from this outlet. Thankfully, it did not disappoint!

20220331_130531

The Hubs and I both ordered the signature chilli pan mee, which came in a generous serving topped with fried anchovies, minced pork, fried shallots, lard, and a runny egg. The chilli flakes are served separately, so you can adjust your level of spiciness. The noodles were cooked al dente, and the runny egg yolk created that smooth, silky texture which bound all of the elements well together.

20220331_130535

The Hubs loved their fried dumplings, which were fried fresh to order. The meat was moist and juicy, while the outside was crisp and fried to perfection.

20220331_130539

Cold longan drinks to quench our thirst!

Damen is kind of a dead mall on weekdays, so when we got to the food court, it literally looked semi-abandoned lol. The stall was the only one open, there was no one else sitting in the section, and some of the lights were not even turned on. But I was satisfied with the food quality and freshness (something that restos with low traffic may struggle with)—and me being anti-social, a quiet environment to dine in was just perfect!

Prices are reasonable for the setting. I would even say they’re one of the more affordable options when you’re at DaMen.

SUPER KITCHEN CHILLI PAN MEE (DAMEN USJ)
L3, Damen Mall, No. 1, Persiaran Kewajipan, USJ 1, 47600 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via my Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.