2016 – North-Eastern Peninsular Malaysia Road Trip - day 4, 5

1,611km North-Eastern Peninsular Malaysia Road Trip
KL > Marang > Kota Bharu > Taiping > Cameron > KL
A 5day road trip from 30.09.2016 – 04.10.2016

Day 4 (03.10.2016) – A 225km drive from Taiping to Cameron Highlands, Pahang

The Route:
> by road A7 to Sugantha Restoran at 177, Jalan Taming Sari
> by road 313 to Antong Coffee Factory, Kampung Asam Kumbang
> by road Jln Stesen, 74 to Charcoal factory Kuala Sepetang
> by North South Highway to Masjid Ubudiah, 33000 Kuala Kangsar
> by Jln Istana to Istana Kenangan (Muzium Diraja Perak)
> by road A136 to Kompleks Barangan Kraftangan, Kuala Kangsar
> by highway to Ipoh Railway Station, Stesen KTM
> by Jln Sultan Idris Shah to Green Town Dimsum Café
> by road 1, 81 to Twin Pines Guesthouse, Tanah Rata

We had the best Indian breakfast at Sugantha Restoran along Jalan Taming Sari. We then visited the Antong Coffee Factory in Kampung Asam Kumbang. From here we drove to Kuala Sepetang to visit the charcoal factory. On the road to Cameron Highlands we stopped at Kuala Kangsar, Ipoh for lunch at Dimsum Café and at 3.40pm it was all the way to Twin Pines Guesthouse in Tanah Rata where we stayed for a night. Dinner was at Restoran Tringkap, No 14, Taman Tringkap Puncak.
Restoran Sugantha an Indian Restaurant, 177 (Jln. Taming Sri), Taiping, Perak

I loved the reasonably priced tasty thosai and roti chanai. The restaurant is clean with friendly staff including the lady owner.

About 83 years ago Aun Tong was founded by Mr. Tiah Ee Mooi in Taiping, Perak.  Today, Aun Tong is known as the most historical coffee mill is now managed by the third generation of the Tiah family.

That was the tri-cycle used to sell coffee then.

The water boiler for making a cup of coffee then.
A five minutes Aun Tong profile video presentation was educational.

The very old weighing machine.

Coffee beans used here are mainly sourced from local plantations in Banting, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. However, beans from overseas may also be used when necessary, imported from countries such as Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia and Kenya.

Aun Tong is the oldest coffee mill in Malaysia which was formerly the horse carriage garage of this century-old mansion.

They have designed the factory conveyor line by using only one unit of electric motor which is still used until today.

We could see how coffee beans are roasted in a traditional method using wood-fired oven. Currently, the products from the factory include pure black coffee mixture, black coffee 3 in 1 premix and the latest addition to their product, the white coffee 3 in 1 premix.

Coffee beans are put through a multi-step process in 60 minutes from roasting for 15 minutes to the last step of grinding to powder form.

Besides producing home-brand coffee products, Antong Coffee also into premixed coffee O.E.M. manufacturing.

We were invited to their coffee tasting. Visitors to Antong Coffee get to try out traditional Hainanese breakfast with roti jari dipped in the many home-brand coffee products.

Interestingly, the office of Antong Coffee is the house that the father of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, stayed in whenever he visited Taiping.

His second wife, a Hong Kong-born lady by the name of Chen Cuifen, lived here for 17 years. The couple even adopted a local girl as their daughter. Cuifen subsequently relocated to China where she passed away.

Formally this place was known as Chang Chun Pu bungalow or Evergreen Mansion, where Dr Sun and Chen Cuifen once stayed, is now owned by Aun Tong Sdn Bhd, a coffee powder manufacturing factory.

Dr Sun and Chen Cuifen

Antong Café administrative office.

A photo of Sun Yet-sen descendant came to visit Mr Tiah.

The coffee factory has been passed by Mr. Tiah Ee Mooi to his son Mr. Tiah second from left.

At the end of the visit, we bought so much coffee to take back.

The production of charcoal is a very time consuming process. Almost all of the process is manually done. People in Kuala Sepetang, Matang and other small villages in the area have a living from the mangrove charcoal factory.

One charcoal factory that one must visit belongs to Mr. Chuah Chow Aun. He is the 2nd generation in the family who owned the factory since 1930s.

Mr. Chuah is a gifted story teller who is fluent in multi-lingual is hard not to listen to his intense explanations of the charcoal making process.

Mr. Chuah well explained the whole process of charcoal making to us. The kiln usually last for around 15 years whereby the logs are brought inside and heated.

The trees can not be processed with the bark so workers have to clean the trees first. The trees are than transported to the kiln which look like cones where the baking process starts.

It's all about the right temperature, so the process has to be monitored 24 hours a day. Slight temperature drops or overheating with just a few degrees can waste all the logs in processing.

Kalaiarasy, what is the weight of this log?
It is about 30kg.

JP Anandan looked on.

Cecilia Thavamani.

This is the dome-like oven call charcoal kiln.

The logs are standing up inside the cone on stone. Then the cone is almost closed a part of a small hole where a fire is burning.

The workers have to keep the fire burning thru the small door at a temperature of 220°C.

The fire heats up the cone at a temperature of 220°C where water will start to vaporize from the logs.
The first stage of this process takes around 8 to 10 days. The log condition inside the cone is determined by the feel of the smoke that comes out of the holes of the cone. Mr. Chuah and his workers have such an experience that they can tell on the feel of the vaporized water how the condition of the log is.

Mr Chuah told us that the liquid collected in the bucket can also sell as ointment for skin and mosquito repellent.

After 10 days the cone is completely shut off. The baking process continues on a temperature of around 83°C. It takes another 14 days to complete. Then the cooling process starts, this takes another 8 days before the hole in the cone is opened.

After the water is vaporized out of the wood it becomes the charcoal that looks shiny black. The workers now get the charcoal out of the still hot cone and it is sorted, put in bags or transported in a whole log. Most of the charcoal of Mr. Chuah's factory is exported to Japan.

Getting into for a "Sauna Bath".
You can see the tree trunks placed vertically in the kiln standing on a piece of brick.

Our engineers checking the wall using their phones.

This helper is packing charcoal pieces into bag according to the size.

Just before leaving, they gave us some sweet potatoes which were baked in the charcoal of his factory.

The cut tree trunks float from the mangrove swamps to the factory by the river.

The mangrove logs are also brought in by small boats on high tide via narrow man-made canals that link to the nearby rivers such as Sungai Sepetang

Masjid Ubudiah the most beautiful mosques in Malaysia stands proudly and majestically in Kuala Kangsar with its golden dome and minarets.

Built in 1913 during the reign of the 28th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris Murshidul Adzam Shah I Ibni Almarhum Raja Bendahara Alang Iskandar Teja, the Masjid Ubudiah is located beside the Royal Mausoleum on Bukit Chandan.

The Istana Kenangan is a charming wooden structure in Kuala Kangsar, now housing the Muzium Diraja Perak, or Perak Royal Museum.

Istana Kenangan is being built entirely of wood, without the use of nails in 1926. It was planned to shape like a sword in its scabbard. The handle of the sword is where the Sultan's bedchamber is located. The walls are made of diamond-shaped plaits while the roof structure takes the combined styles of the five ridges and the ridge of the five bananas.

The first Ipoh station was constructed in 1894 as railway tracks for the Perak Railway (PR) serving the town for 20 years through the final years of the PR and its consolidation into the Federated Malay States Railways (FMSR). 

In 1914, construction of a second station and hotel to replace the first station began and was only completed in 1917. The new double-storey station building was constructed to house railway offices and also the Majestic Hotel with a restaurant and bar. Originally with 17 bedrooms and later upgraded to 21 rooms in 1936. However, the hotel has been closed for many years when new management took over - a sad story to tell.

The menu offered by Greentown Dimsum Café is very extensive: prawn dumpling, BBQ chicken dumpling, siew mai: chicken, seaweed & prawn, chicken glutinous rice, fried bean curd rolls with sauces - mayonnaise & mint and the popular Carrot Cake.

Day 5 (4.10.2016) – A 314km drive from Cameron Highlands (T.Rata) back to KL

The Route:
> by road to Ringlet > Lembah Bertam Valley > Kuala Lipis > Raub > Bentong > KL

At 8am we had breakfast at Twin Pines Guesthouse before departing for Ringlet at 9.30am. We then drove pass Lembah Bertam valley and then stopped at Kuala Lipis to visit the Lipis District Administration Building (1919) and Hugh Clifford school (1913). We continued our journey to Raub for lunch at Restaurant Kim Leng. Our final stop was at Bentong Genting Sempah R&R for tea. We then collected back all the walkie-talkies and say farewell to each other until we meet again in the near future.

Some of the beautiful flowers at Twin Pines Guesthouse.

Bertam Valley is an agricultural village about 1.5km off Ringlet town, home to numerous flower nurseries and vegetable farms perched along the banks of Bertam River.

Bertam Valley is a quiet district and alternative gateway to Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lipis and Raub - via the most recent highway that cuts through the dense rain-forest region of Pos Betau.

The under-construction 372MW Ulu Jelai Power Station is 40km from Ringlet on route 102 connecting Ringlet and Sg Koyan within Ulu Jelai and Bukit Jerut forest reserves, near Cameron Highlands-Lipis district border. Water from 3 rivers - Sg Bertam, Sg Telom and Sg Lemoi is used for electricity generation. A dam is built to impound Sg Bertam. Diversion tunnels are built on Sg Telom and Sg Lemoi to divert water into the main reservoir at Sg Bertam. From the reservoir, water is channeled into a series of tunnels 15km-long to generate electricity before being released back into Sg Telom. The underground power cavern houses 2 units of Francis turbines each with a generating capacity of 186 MW.

This 1919 building was the administrative centre of Pahang. It holds the British Resident office and several administrative officers of Pahang on the top floor. On the lower floor is the revenue collection office and the treasury of the British administration. Lipis was then the biggest district in Pahang. Its administrative area covered the whole district of Jerantut and was blessed with lots of nature's treasure such as gold, charcoal, rubber and its forest's treasure.

The school was first known as the government English school and started operating in 1913. At first, it was a small hut on the banks of the Jelai River and was a home to 12 all male students. In 1918, the number of students has grown rapidly to 100 students and it was moved to its present ground.

Classes that was used during that time only consists of wooden buildings. Since it was the biggest educational institution in Pahang, the Malay Hostel and the main D block was built to accommodate the growing demand.

The official launching of the school was done by Sir Hugh Clifford, the ex-resident of Pahang. On 1926, he was appointed as the governor of the straits settlements and high commissioner of the federated Malay states. The school was named after him afterwards.

It was the first school certificate class on 1936, the first batch of students that sit for the school certificate was 11, out of that, 9 students passed. Besides being academically excellent. The school also excels in sports. Jp and Siva were student of this school.

Just look at the van after 5 days - full of things purchased on the roadtrip.

At Alkisah Gerai Nangka Madu 916 to buy some sweet jack fruit.

Ah Fatt held on to one big jack fruit.

I had the biggest jack fruit available at the stall.

We had lunch at Restaurant Kim Leng in Raub.

Yes, the total 5day expenses for meals and accommodation was RM337.50 per person. Well done and appreciation to the MOBYA coordinator Shahrul, the treasurer and bookkeeper Ray Lee and all participants of this memorable road trip.

Click below to view:
North-Eastern Peninsular Malaysia Road Trip - Intro
Day 1 Fri. (30.09.2016) - KL to Marang, Terengganu (480km)

Day 2 Sat. (01.10.2016) – Marang to Kota Bharu, Kelantan (258km)
Day 3 Sun. (02.10.2016) – Kota Bharu to Taiping, Perak (334km)
Day 4 Mon. (03.10.2016) – Taiping to Cameron, Pahang (225km) 

Day 5 Tue. (04.10.2016) – Cameron to KL, Selangor (314km)

Append below the beautiful words taken from whatsapp:
Lim Ka Tin said:
Just reached home safely. Thank you for the good time we spent together and looking forward to meeting up again. 👏👏👏
Tan Chee Seng said:
Thanks to everyone for the great trip together. And special thanks to Shahrul for making all the arrangements. 👍 😀
Kalaiarasy Subramaniam said:
Awesome trip Shahrul, thx for the great effort.
Song Poh said:
Thank you Mohan for the initiative and detailed planning. Its been a good and interesting trip.
Catherine Navamani said:
Great and awesome trip Mohan. Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible. Looking forward to seeing all of you again.
Chan Nam Hong said:
Thank you Shahrul for planning such an enjoyable trip. Thanks to everyone for all the good company too. Great meeting u guys.
Siva said:
This was our first trip with you and your beloved friend's. We enjoyed the company and the places of interest. We are looking forward for the next trip. Bye, have a good rest.
JP Anandan said:
Thank to all good friends for making our trip a safe and wonder experience. To Mohan a life of fun and excitement for all of us. Thank you for the valuable time to have organised this trip. Adios.
Cecilia Thavamani said:
Thanks Mohan and all who helped plan this wonderful holiday. We enjoyed each and everyone's company. Though meeting you all for the first time we could blend in so well. Hope to meet you all soon. Thanks to the amats 😝 for driving us around and bringing us home safely. Tks once again.
Michelle Yeow Pik Mui said:
Thanks to everyone who planned this holiday trip and also many many thanks who help me when I was not feeling well. Also, thank Shahrul for inviting us for this trip. We really enjoyed ourselves very much. 🍻🍴🍰👍
George Ling said:
Special thanks to Shahrul and friends who made this wonderful trip from me and Wei Wei. 👍👍
Catherine Oon said:
Thank you Shahrul and friends for a wonderful and successful trip. We've got great company and good food. Hope to see all of you soon.
Shahrul said:
Thanks everyone for making this trip so exciting. Thank you all. 👍👌😄👏 JP, please convey our thanks to Karunan for accompanying us in KB and introducing Kopitiam Kita and Restoran Chengmai... 👍👌😋 Thanks to my sisters n BILs for the company... see u all soon. 😃👍