We didn’t really plan for this trip except getting a rough idea how to get to Kuala Sepetang from Penang by checking out Google Maps.
Last Tuesday, on the way home from our hometown after visiting my mom and dad, and my wife’s granny during Christmas holidays, we detoured to Kuala Sepetang for a quick visit after getting an inspiration from a friend who went there just a few days before.
Kuala Sepetang is the hometown to one of my best friends but I hadn’t got the chance to pay this small town a visit that was once called Port Weld – which is famous for the first railway station in Peninsular Malaysia. However the station is no longer in existence.
To get to Kuala Sepetang is easy. Just exit from Kamunting (Taiping North) or Changkat Jering (Taiping South) on the North-South Expressway. Head on to Simpang. Upon arriving at a junction in Simpang, take a left turn (if you are from Changkat Jering) or right if you are from Kamunting. The 11km small village road will lead you to Kuala Sepetang – which is about 20 minutes away.
Right at the end of the road is where Kuala Sepetang town (and fishing village) located. If you speak Penang Hokkien, the linguistic skill comes in handy in Kuala Sepetang.
Of course, it’s more to Kuala Sepetang than a fishing village.
I checked with my friend who grew up here on what to do in Kuala Sepetang. We ended up spending 5 hours in this laid back town.
When we reached, we drove almost to the end of the town to take a quick look. We didn’t plan to have seafood there as we wanted to save space for something else special and interesting: mee udang and seafood porridge.
The town is not big and you can finish touring it in just a few minutes. One can still discover some of the old wooden houses which are still common here. But these houses are longer available in big cities.
Another interesting sight is salted fish and dried shrimps. The produce is scattered evenly on a flat ground/surface to dry under the sun.
Mee Udang Mak Jah
This is something not planned for. As we were heading Kuala Sepetang, we realized there were many stalls offering this local Malay dish: mee udang (prawn noodles) – right from Matang to Kuala Sepetang town. It seems that Kuala Sepetang is synonymous with mee udang.
How could we not try it?
We settled at Mee Udang Mak Jah which is located before town (just slightly after the Mangrove Park) if you are coming from Taiping. It’s located at the roadside of Taiping-Kuala Sepetang road.
The popular eatery was crowded when we reached. The service was fast and efficient. We ordered mee undang biasa (prawn noodle soup – standard) and mee goreng udang biasa (fried noodles with prawns – standard).
I asked about the difference between standard (RM7) and special (RM11) versions of the noodles. The waitress told us the difference was special versions had bigger prawns. That’s about it.
I prefer soup to fried noodles. For mee udang, the gravy was thick and flavorful with generous serving of prawns. While the fried noodles lacked in flavor and it was almost to the extent that it was tasteless. If you are there, don’t bother with the mee goreng, just order the mee udang. Neverthelss the prawns were fresh.
J and K could only take the fried noodles as the other one was too spicy for them. As I could tell from their expressions, they didn’t really fancy the mee udang (especially K).
Also, forget about the teh tarik (pulled tea) there. It tasted more like condensed milk tarik than teh tarik.
Overall the prawn noodle is okay but it’s not something that you can’t live without. If you have not tried it, it’s worth checking it out. Malay-styled prawn noodles are not something you can find easily, not to mention the good ones.
Not going to Kuala Sepetang? No worries, Mee Udang Mak Jah has branched out to Kuala Lumpur in Wangsa Maju.
This was the highlight of the trip. Making a trip to charcoal factory is a must if you happen to be in Kuala Sepetang.
Even though the factory is dirty, the visit can turn out to be very educational, even for adults.
When we were there, it happened there was a group of visitors was also there and one of the veteran workers was giving a brief talk on how charcoal was made.
We joined in.
Mr. Lim (who has over 20 years of experience) explained the process of making charcoal from the beginning until the end, starting from how the huge oven was made to how to make sure the mangrove logs were fully turned into charcoal.
Every single tiny process in the charcoal factory is done based on experience and no modern technology is used in the process. For example, to produce high quality charcoal, the right temperature must be applied in the oven at different stages. They don’t use thermometer. But to determine the right temperature, Mr. Lim explained that they use smell from the smoke (that comes out of the oven) to gauge the temperature.
The whole process takes about 25 days in order to produce charcoal from mangrove tree trunks.
To make the tour more interesting, the petite but strong Mr. Lim challenged the men in the group to lift a 150 kg log with 3 fingers. No one succeeded except Mr. Lim – with the help of a gunny sack turned apron.
The group collected RM3 from each person for Mr. Lim as a token. In fact, Mr. Lim had done a good job. He is friendly and proud of his profession. And he is willing to take on any questions that you have regarding charcoal making.
J seemed to enjoy the tour but K was not really happy with the tour as the factory was too dirty for his standard and, in his own words, “It’s very hot!”
Charcoal Factory – Directions: Most charcoal factories are located in the same area. From Taiping, the factory area is located on the left, before Mangrove Park. There’s a clear sign indicating the charcoal factory area.
You are welcome to visit any factory. If you have questions, just ask any worker there or you can organize a tour like what we had if the worker is available and not tied up with work.
We didn’t do much here at the Mangrove Park as it was raining. Furthermore, my friend told us that the park was closed for maintenance. Anyhow, we drove in but there was no clear sign indicating where to go or if the park was closed.
We wanted to try out the “popular” seafood porridge in Matang – a smaller town before Kuala Sepetang. Unfortuantely, Lighthouse Seafood Restaurant closed on Tuesdays.
We had a backup.
When we were traveling from Simpang, Taiping, we saw a roadside restaurant which also sold seafood porridge. The restaurant was Fu Man Lau – on the left from Taiping direction – before the overhead above North-South Expressway.
Our focus was on the porridge although the restaurant also offered other types of seafood. The waitress kept asking us to order a bigger portion of the porridge. Even though we didn’t exactly listen to her, the porridge still turned out to be huge that we almost couldn’t finish it. We should have ordered one portion for two persons. If you are small eater, one portion is sufficient for four persons.
I am not a porridge person so it will not be fair for me to comment on the porridge. Nevertheless, I find the porridge acceptable and the fish used was fresh.
We also tried mantis prawns with salted egg. I don’t like it at all and it was a letdown.