Perak Tourism News Volume 26
An enchanting district on the borders of three states with constrasting sights to see and enjoy…
Perak’s Kerian District is south of Seberang Perai Selatan, and some 80 minutes’ drive north of Ipoh. It has eight sub-districts, namely: Parit Buntar, Bagan Tiang, Tanjung Piandang, Kuala Kurau, Bagan Serai, Beriah, Selinsing and Semanggol.
There is a story as to how the district got its name. And the most popular one goes this way:
In the 1800s, a British Resident Officer was on his way to Pangkor Island from Parit Buntar by boat, when he referred to the land on his left as ‘KIRIAN’, his pronunciation for ‘kiri’, which means ‘left’ in the Malay language. That was how this area later became known as “Kerian”.
A unique feature about Kerian District is its river, Sungai Kerian. The river marks the boundary of the three states of Perak, Kedah and Penang. Being a district where rice is the primary agricultural product, driving through the countryside, one would be greeted by acres upon acres of paddy fields in myriad shades of green, yellow and blue.
Following the launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2014, a series of railway packages was publicised on January 10 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. At the state level, the railway tourism brochure was introduced by its Minister, Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz, together with Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Diraja Dr. Zambry Abd Kadir and Puan Khadijah Abd Rahman, President of Railway Tourism Association Malaysia (RTAM), and myself.
With the convenience of the Electric Train Service (ETS), the intercity train service by KTM Bhd that shuttles between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, our beautiful city is becoming even more accessible to tourists and visitors alike. Rail travel is an exceptionally enriching experience and I believe that Perak has a lot to offer. We are excited that RTAM has drawn up four day-tour packages to Ipoh, the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar, Sungai Klah and Pasir Salak. Five Perak homestay packages are also available, to homestays in Kampung Beng, Klah, Maju Manik, Pendiat Bota and Bukit Gantang.
Those who can afford more time to explore the country, including Perak, can opt for the 13D/12N “Resplendence Resort By Rail” package, where one of the stopovers in Perak is the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat.
For further information, check out the website of Railway Tourism Association Malaysia at www.malaysiarailwaytourism.weebly.com
Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz too launched the “Victoria Bridge Green Day – 1Malaysia Clean, 1Malaysia Green” voluntourism programme on January 12, at this imposing structure in Kampung Seberang Karai, at the edge of the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar. Built around 1897, Victoria Bridge, which crosses the Perak River, was a vital link for the growth of the tin mining industry and the development of mining towns nearby, connecting Perai in the north to Johor Bahru in the south of Peninsular Malaysia.
Named after Queen Victoria (May 24, 1819 to January 22, 1901), the great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, Victoria Bridge is the oldest railway bridge in Malaysia and is one of the most beautiful bridges in South East Asia. This bridge is yet another exciting historical destination to be visited by locals and foreign guests, especially shutterbugs.
Those requiring information on Victoria Bridge may contact its tourism office by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 019-5560992 (Puan Siti Norlizawati, Director, Victoria Bridge Tourism Centre).
Sunset at Ban Pecah
Ban Pecah is a popular beach to hang out, especially for those who wish to witness an awesome sunset. Fishing competitions are held here regularly.
With a coast stretching over 8km from Kuala Kurau and Tanjung Piandang, encompassing four villages, namely Kampung Nelayan, Kampung Kuala Sungai Burung, Kampung Sungai Baru and Kampung Kuala Parit Tok Hin, and facing the Straits of Malacca, one can see the lights of Penang Bridge at night in the distant horizon.
Story has it that this area was named Ban Pecah, which literally translates to ‘Broken Bund’, due to a curse of an orphan in the 1960s. This orphan owned a piece of land here but it was sold off by his uncle without his approval. Because of this curse, the wall erected along the coast continued to disintegrate.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 02.695’ E100° 22.967’
With the Straits of Malacca on the west of Kerian District, it is no surprise that fishing is a major industry here.
In fact, the Malaysian Golden Arowana has its origins from Bukit Merah Lake and Kerian River, and is not found anywhere else in the world. Asian arowana (Scleropages formosus), incidentally, is an endangered species.
This area is so suitable for arowana breeding that in 2009, the Perak state government gazetted a thousand acres of land in Simpang Empat, Semanggol, for the industry alone. So far, some 550 acres have already been developed by the more than 100 industry players.
Arowana fish bred here are mainly exported to China because of the popular belief that this ‘feng shui’ fish brings good luck and prosperity. The Chinese call the arowana “Golden Dragon Fish”. Arowana is also exported to Japan, Taiwan and Korea but on a smaller scale.
Those who wish to visit an arowana farm can write in to the Kerian District Fisheries Office, and extend a copy of the letter to the North Malaysia Arowana Farmers Association (NMAFA).
GPS Coordinates (Crossback Arowana Bukit Merah Sdn. Bhd.): N 05° 01.048’ E100° 38.589’
Kerian District Fisheries Office
Add: 34 Kuala Kurau, Perak.
North Malaysia Arowana Farmers Association (NMAFA)
Add: Lot 5511 & 7273, Terusan Besar, Tebuk Panchur, Simpang Empat, 34400 Semanggol, Perak.
Tel: +6012-5578577 (Sahibol Anwar Bin Arba’e – Secretary NMAFA)
Cockle breeding is another major industry here. Cockles harvested, after meeting local consumption, are exported to Thailand. The high quality is attributed to the pollution-free environment of Kuala Bagan Tiang.
One hundred gunny sacks at 65kg each are harvested daily. This is a year-long activity.
Those interested to watch the process of ‘cleaning’ cockles, where cockles are separated from empty shells and dead cockles, can contact the Kerian District Office (Tel: +605-7161963 during office hours).
GPS Coordinates (Jetty Kuala Bagan Tiang): N 05° 06.703’ E100° 23.847’
Commercial shrimp (Vannamei) breeding began in 2012 along Jalan Gula in Selinsing. The company, Hannan Corporation, owns about 150 ponds on 300 acres of land – a joint-venture with Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA). 6.5 to 7 tonnes of shrimps are harvested each time.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 55.971’ E100° 33.989’
To request for a visit, contact Hannan Group of Companies at A-3-2, Megan Phoenix, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: +603-91025772 Fax: +603-91025770
Agriculture Besides rice, other agricultural products include oil palm and pomelo.
Low Tow Chuan is an award-winning pomelo grower. His 12-acre orchard in Sungai Gedung, Bagan Serai is also planted with other local fruits such as cempedak, nangka, and limau kasturi.
There are some 20 families who own pomelo orchards here. According to Low, the fertile soil and water enable the fruit to thrive.
It takes a pomelo tree some six months to start fruiting, but surprisingly, trees can continue to fruit for a hundred years and more!
Johan Limau Bali Chuan
Add: Batu 14, No. 111, Telok Medan, Jalan Taiping, 34300 Bagan Serai, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 58.403’ E100° 35.945’
Under the One District One Industry programme, the Department of Agriculture has been disbursing grants to local cottage businesses to encourage them to expand.
One of the beneficiaries is Ieda Frozen Food & Bakery, which was established in 2010. Proprietress Norafidawati Md. Nordin and her four workers bake buns, biscuits, cookies, frozen sausage rolls and curry puffs, among other snacks, which are supplied to schools and shops, and even as far as Putrajaya.
Ieda Frozen Food & Bakery’s food and bakery products are for sale from 12 noon to 8pm. The shop is closed once a week, either on Friday or Saturday.
Those who make an appointment to visit can request for a guided tour to see how bread and cookies are baked.
Call Norafidawati at +6017-4183225 to book a visit.
Add: F246, Batu 3/4, Tanah Kebun, Simpang Lima, 34200 Parit Buntar, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 05.057 E100° 29.051
Another cottage industry that has benefited from the Agriculture Department’s grant is Perusahaan Bainah Md. Nor.
Already 15 years since taking over his mother’s small home-based business of making ‘kuih peniram’ or traditional doughnut, Kamarudin Mat Yusof and his six staff produce 8,000 pieces a day, working from 8am to 2pm. Sunday is their rest day.
A visit to this cottage is rather educational as one is shown how this traditional snack is made.
To arrange for an appointment, call the Agricultural Department at 05-7161463 during office hours.
Add: 109, Parit Mentara 2, Jalan Taiping, 34300 Bagan Serai, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 00.408’ E100° 33.551
The square along the riverbank of Sungai Kerian on Jalan Sungai in Parit Buntar is the locals’ favourite recreational spot. They converge here for aerobics every Saturday and Sunday morning, for an evening jog, for skateboarding, fishing and also boating. In 2011, a national- level water fiesta was hosted here.
Behind the serenity of Sungai Kerian was a ferry tragedy that took place in September 1972. It claimed about 20 lives, mostly school children from Bandar Baharu, Kedah who crossed the river using the ferry to attend school in Parit Buntar, Perak. Since this unfortunate incident, the ferry ceased operations and a concrete bridge was built.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 07.764’ E100° 29.712’
Shopping Surprisingly, shopping is interesting here, with many choices of Muslim apparel, textile and carpet up for grabs.
The weekly night market is eagerly anticipated by the locals. Right in the heart of Parit Buntar town near the clock tower, along Jalan Teh Peh Kong and Jalan Menteri, traders begin their business as early as 4.30pm, with most stalls open until 10pm. About half of the almost 300 stalls here sell various types of local food.
Pasar Kemboja, or Cambodian Market, is split into two sections, with one half of it in Simpang Empat, Perak and the other half in Nibong Tebal, Seberang Perai, separated by Jalan Sempadan.
Initially started by the large Cambodian community here, this street bazaar is open every Saturday morning from 7am until 2pm.
There are approximately 200 stalls here. Many boutique owners from other states come here to source for products and buy in bulk at wholesale prices.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 07.814’ E100° 28.366’
More than 50 species of migratory birds can be spotted at the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary, which forms part of the Matang Forest Reserve.
The birds, flying from the north as far as Russia, and heading to Australia to escape the bitter cold winter, stop here to recharge their energy.
Naturally, this sanctuary attracts many bird-watchers. However, luck plays a major part in bird-watching, even though one has chosen the right timing, that is, early in the morning from August to April.
Those who wish to go on a boat ride to the Kuala Gula estuary for bird-watching can contact Kuala Gula Sanctuary Resort for reservation. Boat rental is RM180 for maximum passenger load of 13. The duration of the trip is 1.5 hours.
Kuala Gula Sanctuary Resort
Add: Jalan Kuala Gula, 34350 Kuala Kurau, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 56.255 E100° 28.094’
Orang Utan Island (OUI) is about 15 minutes by boat from Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. The Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation is located on this tiny island on the lake. The foundation conducts conservation, infant care, education and research programmes on Orang Utan.
OUI is the only ex-situ conservatory of its kind in Malaysia, where primates are conserved, cared for, rehabilitated and then released to their natural habitats when the animals are ready to be independent.
There are only two Orang Utan species in the world. Those at OUI are of the Pongo pygmaeus (Borneo) species. It is a protected animal under Malaysian wildlife laws.
Although OUI is open to the public, visitors are only allowed visual contact. There are boat trips at 30-minute intervals. However, the island may be closed at certain periods of the year due to low water level in the lake.
Fare: RM30 per adult with MyKad and RM18 per child.
Orang Utan Island
Add: Jalan Bukit Merah, Semanggol, 34400 Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 0.527’ E 100° 40.538’
Seafood is very popular in this area. Warung Sembilang Wani, one of the food stalls in Gerai MDK along Jalan Kg. Raja Bashah in Kuala Kurau, sells 15kg of kari ikan sembilang sirip merah (red fin catfish curry) a day!
Open for dinner from 6pm to midnight daily except Sundays, proprietress Kak Zah has been in business for 23 years.
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 01.128 E100° 26.044’
Kuala Gula Sanctuary Resort’s Restoran Cenderawasih also serves one of the best kari ikan sembilang, but the restaurant is also known for its mouth-watering deep-fried soft shell crabs.
Parit Buntar, the capital of the District of Kerian, has a variety of affordable lodgings that suit different requirements. Two good examples are Parit Buntar Inn and Hotel Damai.
In Semanggol is Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, the gateway to Orang Utan Island, whereas in Kuala Kurau is Kuala Gula Sanctuary Resort, the gateway to Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary.
Parit Buntar Inn
Add: No. 1, Jalan Pejabat, 34000 Parit Buntar, Perak.
Tel: +605-7173160 / +605-7176750
GPS Coordinates: N 05° 07.877’ E100° 29.351’
For further information on Kerian District, contact the District Council Office at +605-7161228 during regular office hours.