Friday, February 10, 2017

A family trip to Kuala Sepetang (Port Weld), Perak

Kuala Sepetang is a fishing village located just 16km at the west of Taiping, Perak, Malaysia. It is about 72km drive from Ipoh, and 99km drive from Penang. Nearer to the confluence is a Chinese village which most of the houses are wooden and built half on top of the water and half on the landside. There is also a Malay village (a.k.a. kampung) at the adjacent inner land.

The Chinese village is pretty traditional. Most of the houses are wooden. There are several temples around the village. There is also a private independent petrol station at its center.

There are quite a few homestays available in Kuala Sepetang, of which most are not advertised in the Internet and they prefer to be contacted for booking information by phone. There is also a larger scale one called The Happy 8 Retreat @ Sepetang which is well advertised in most of the major online hotel booking websites in the Internet.

Right before arriving the 2 villages of Kuala Sepetang, there is a small junction on the left of the main road, leading to several charcoal factories. The larger and famous one is owned by Khay Hor Holdings Sdn. Bhd, which is free for tourists visit. They can also arrange a guide to explain about the charcoal manufacturing process to the visitors if the crowd is keen to know more about their operations.

There are quite a number of charcoal kilns inside the factory. The entrance (which is sealed as bullet shape on the whiter lower part of the kiln in the photo below) is taller than an adult.

Beside the factory is a small river, which mostly dried out during our visit. Right at the entrance of the factory, you can buy some charcoal soveniors, and a kind of unique natural vinegar with multiple functions.

After visited the charcoal factory, we went straight to our accomodation, which was the Happy 8 Retreats.

This wooden building with an eagle figure in front has already become a famous landmark of Kuala Sepetang. It is a multifunction building, which in front of it is a fishery wholesaller. Inside ground floor is the Happy 8 Retreat receptionist, lobby and dining area.

Do you notice the "cage" outside the wall, on top of the blue signboard? It is actually a lift, accessible from inside the building.

Its 1st floor is a Chinese restaurant named as Makanan Laut Kang Kao. 2nd floor onwards are the rooms of Happy 8 Retreat.

The Happy 8 Retreat at Sepetang is very artistic with wooden theme. Below is the photo of one of its dining table surrounded with decorative wooden designs. We had our next morning breakfast there. The breakfast was included in the accomodation package. It is fixed for each day, instead of buffet style.

Despite its rustic wooden theme, you might be surprised to find out this retreat is well equipped with modern contactless keycard system similar to those used in 5 star hotels.

Our room was river facing with a queen size bed below and 2 more single beds on top, big enough for family stay. The room is equipped with modern electrical system and attached with a modern toilet. WiFi password was provided and its signal was pretty strong and stable.

After settling down, we went to walk around the village.

There is a KTM train station sign which is another famous landmark in Sepetang, which formerly known as Port Weld. In fact, this is the 1st train station in Malaysia which commenced operation in 1885, with a short railway track connected to Taiping. Notice that during those good old days, the sign has 4 languages on it. Today, the train station has already ceased operation and the railway track had been demolished, leaving this sign as memorial.

Nearby, there is a Chinese hawker stall selling the famous curry mee, laksa, red bean drink, ice kacang, etc.

The stall opened at 3pm, and always crowded with long order queue. Outside the stall is another hawker selling prawn crackers which is pretty famous too.

Beside the riverbank, there is one multi-storey brick house which is actually one of the homestays. The price per room per night is RM100 only.

There are houses on both side of the river. We were told by the villager that last time, there was no road linking the 2 sides. Villagers need to take water transport to go over to the other side. A few years ago, a new bridge was built linking the 2 sides. Now the villagers can cross over to the other side by walking or riding on motorcycle, which brings much convenience to them. The photo below was taken at the middle of the bridge.

There are 2 kinds of boat owned by the villagers in Sepetang. One is the fishing boat, and another is the tour boat. Each of the fishing boats is marked with a large alphabet, either A, B or C. The villagers informed that boats of type A are for fishing in the sea, and the boats normally went out for a few days before returning; B is for prawns and crabs catching, while C is for clams and cockles catching.

We went for river sight-seeing on one of the tour boat. Tickets were sold at counters near the jetty.

The first destination is eagles feeding. There are many eagles at the spot hunting for food.

Then, we went to a floating fish farm for fish feeding activity. The fishes are breed in nested cubicles. The workers on the fish farm also shown us some wild animals found there, including puffer fish and horseshoe crab, for photo shooting.

Then, the boat brought us went along the village before returning to the jetty.

At night, we took another tour boat for fireflies seeing at the mangrove forest researve area, which departed at 7.30pm. The tour was slightly more than 1 hour. There were many fireflies on the trees at both side of the riverbank. The fireflies blinked synchronously, which is different from the asynchronous fireflies we saw in Cherating few years back.

The next day, we visited the mangrove forest reserve in the Matang Mangrove Eco-Educational Centre, located diagonally opposite the junction to the charcoal factory. This mangrove forest reserve is said to be the largest of it kind in Malaysia.

Before entering the mangrove forest reserve, we need to purchase ticket at the guard house. We were given a passbook which we can stamp at each of the visiting stations inside the forest. There were quite a lot of monkeys outside the guard house.

Jungle tracking inside the forest is pretty easy and should not be getting lost, as we just need to follow the wooden bridge built on top of the swampy forest to complete our track.

Deep inside the forest, there are also huts and houses for homestays, as well as camping area for campers.

There is also a jetty beside the river, with tour boat service going to sight seeing activity similar to those offerred by the tour boats at the Sepetang village.

If you are interested to have a trip to Kuala Sepetang, you can download the tourist map below (click to enlarge) to plan for your itinerary.

This trip of my family did not cover all the attractions. We didn't visit the Matang Museum nearby, we didn't visit the cockles factory, we didn't visit the Kuala Sangga fishing village, which is a small village only accessible by boat. We also didn't go for dolphin watching, as we were told that dolphin is hardly seen at the season.


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