Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:45 PM PDT
A day out to Balik Pulau and Kampung Pulau Betong
It is always fresh and exciting to look forward to some little adventure touring the lesser known part of home in this island. Although born and bred in Penang Island, there are still many places here that I have not explored.
Mention Balik Pulau to locals and they will immediately tell you that's where you will find the best Laksa/Lemak Laksa. Laksa is a noodle dish with sour and spicy fish gravy. More about this later below.
But in this post, let me take you (virtually) on not only food but also a scenic perspective of this part of the island which is seldom visited by tourist and even to a certain extend, locals. The main reason for its low exploration is the modest development as compared to the east side of the island.
We took the more uncommon road to Balik Pulau via Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang. This route has less vehicles on the road and also a better view of nature. This routes take us pass the Teluk Bahang Dam and through the hills into the lowlands of Balik Pulau.
A view of Teluk Bahang Dam which is also the venue for the recently concluded International Dragon Boat Race.
First stop was of course to fill up our tummy before sight-seeing takes place.
The newly built bus station in Balik Pulau has a section dedicated to selling hawker food. Over here, you can get very fresh nutmeg juice and koay teow th'ng, pasembur, chicken rice, and other local chinese or malay food.
Almost every beverage stall offers freshly blended nutmeg juice. At one corner, the workers were busy cutting the nutmeg into smaller pieces for juice-blending while at another stall, some are peeling off the seed skin and drying the seeds which will be turned into nutmeg medicated massage oil.
One popular food stall there is the Sai Toh fish ball koay teow th'ng. The fish ball has a very springy and smooth texture but minus any fishy smell. Other ingredients in this dish are slices of fish cake, bits of chicken meat, garlic, spring onions and some leafy greens. Very simple and light but comforting. The fresh and thick nutmeg juice and ambla plum juice brings a soothing end to the first meal. Yes, the first meal!
This is what most locals and visitors come to Balik Pulau for. Assam Laksa is liked by many for its sour and spicy taste. Siam Laksa or better known as Lemak Laksa or Nyonya Laksa is a spin-off from the assam version by adding rich and sweet coconut milk to the soup.
This stall is located next to the old market. There is another stall opposite the market but this stall commands more customers.
Pungent and spicy, this dish is a favourite among locals but to some who are new to it, it can go either way - the love or hate affair.
Assam or Lemak? Lemak or Assam? If you are undecided on which to have, order the Cham version (mixed). The seller will gladly make up a tantalizing bowl of laksa mixed with both soup.
Who wouldn't give a smile when you have this tempting bowl right in front of you!
With a full stomach, we were then off to the fishing village at Kampung Pulau Betong.
Some patience local boys were throwing bait into the river and caught these crabs.
We then reached Pasir Panjang, a secluded beach which is partly taken up by Kem Bina Negara, a government training centre.
As we move along back towards to our initial starting point, these view of coconut trees, paddy field, and blue skies are the focal point of the journey.
Here's more photos of the scenic view:
Along the winding road back to Teluk Bahang, we were in luck as it is the durian season and some makeshift stalls were set up by the roadside to woo customers to buy the king of fruit.
Other than durian, there are also cempedak, mangosteen (Two- to three-inch tropical fruit with juicy flesh suggestive of both peaches and pineapples), rambutan, and even coconut.
The durians we tried were very delicious. Don't know what the brand/number/nickname of the type, but the distinct indication is that it had really yellow flesh, aromatic, and taste very sweet….all the plus points of a good quality fruit.
A voice in our head was begging us to buy more back. We can't resist the temptation and hence got the seller to open more to bring back!!
And so we head back with a satisfied tummy and even more satisfied field trip around the island!
View more photos here:
In upcoming post, I'll share with you about exploring Balik Pulau via cycling, visiting even more scenic areas which cannot be covered by car!! There area so many beautiful places to see and eat in Penang
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