Tuesday, March 13, 2018
East Coast Road Trip III: From Cherating to Calong and Celup
Although I wasn't happy with the hotel room, I slept like a baby anyway. When I got up, KH was randy and wanted to get inside me. I went to clean-up, then he got me nice and ready with foreplay. As he was poised to enter me, we got a knock on the door! Bwahaha. Time to get ready and have a walk on the beach. So we tucked our woodies into our shorts, combed our hair, and headed for the pool. SK already her morning swim on that dreadfully windy monsoon morning. If the weather was nicer, it would have been great. The beach was clean, but halfway through our walk, we were hit by sporadic showers. Anyway, we didn't have long to linger there as we had a breakfast appointment with the Y Tribe in Kuantan.
Breakfast was the famous Mee Calong in Beserah. A fairly new addition to Kuantan's culinary dictionary. Created perhaps a decade or so ago. They brought us to Joe Warung Mee Calong dan Keropok Beserah, an open-air restaurant that's built right in front of Joe's wooden house. The Y Tribe's patriarch is actually one of Joe's suppliers, so they know each other quite well. Mee Calong is something like the Malay version of Chinese fishball noodles. Instead of fishballs, they use keropok lekor fish paste. Kinda like Indonesian pempek. The clear soup is a mixture of anchovies and Malay spices which gives it a delicious flavour. As the name suggests, Joe also specializes in keropok lekor. Truth be told, of all the keropok I've had on the trip, Joe wins the prize for best taste, and texture.
Riding on Joe's success, kuih and nasi lemak suppliers also sell their stuff there by consignment. Pretty decent really, especially the onde-onde, and kuih cara berlauk. Believe it or not, we extended our breakfast just to wait for nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah and rojak to be available. LOL. Whenever you're in Beserah, do pay this JJCM-awarded restaurant a visit.
I grew up in a government quarters called the Survey Quarters because my late father was an employee for the Land Survey Department. The whole compound had no fencing, and everyone stayed in identical single-storey houses, with red cement flooring. Living room, dining room, three bedrooms (to get to the master bedroom, one had to go through an intermediate bedroom), and a garage. The toilet and the bathroom are connected to the garage. So when I was a kid, it was a daunting task of unlatching the folding doors to get 'out of the house' to use the toilet in the middle of the night. Every house was fronted by a big field that when combined with neighbouring houses became a huge playground for me. Back then, it was also a very multi-cultural community-- Malay, Chinese, Indian, Punjabi, and Portugese. But that doesn't mean I didn't hear the occasional, "Cina Babi" heckle. That aside, it was harmonious.
Although my old neighbour had warned me that Survey Quarters ain't what it used to be, nothing prepared me for the sight of my old house. Firstly, the government decided to erect a high wall around the compound. Better security perhaps. Secondly, the houses had gone to shit. In this day and age, I think civil servants would rather rent a house outside with their housing allowance. Hence many of the houses were abandoned and subsequently 'claimed by nature'. My old house was one such example. It had a rumah mat gian vibe to it.
When in Kuantan, it's a must to buy salted fish. My hometown is well-known for a variety of salted fish known as mui heong which literally translates into "rotten fragrant". Perfect when used to steam minced pork or to add into claypot chicken rice. Jalan Besar used to be a hot spot for the salted fish business, but many of the shops have closed down. One big player still remains though-- Chen Hing. All sorts of dried seafood products can be bought here. A great one-stop shop.
From town we made a quick detour into Bukit Sekilau so that I could take a quick look at my old primary school. Still remember the places I used to play during recess, and the field opposite the main entrance where a lady used to sell aiskrim ikat underneath a cashew tree.
Then I visited my secondary school or whatever is left of it. The St. Thomas Secondary School is no more, as it is now Regent International School. There's some controversy surrounding the whole issue because the Ministry of Education deemed that the relocated St. Thomas school would be renamed to Sekolah Mahkota Abdullah, effectively erasing its history as a missionary school (established by Rev. Fr. Louis Guitat in 1950 and later taken over by the Brothers of St. Gabriel in 1960). The red sports house was named Guitat.
Just beside the old site of St. Thomas Secondary School is St. Thomas Church. Mum and I made a quick visit around its compound. I don't have much memories of it as I just attended mass there once in my life. The tall bell tower was just a landmark to me.
Rushed over to lunch at Tanjung Lumpur. The Y Tribe's extended family was already waiting for us at Gerai Mok Na. So much East Coast Malay sin food under one roof. All my favourites were there-- otak-otak, satar, ketupat palas, ikan goreng tepung, keropok lekor, tebosa, pulut panggang, etc. I also got my laksam fix there. For dessert, there was pengat pisang and kuih asam gumpal. It was a very satisfying lunch! From there we bid farewell to the Y Tribe, and Kuantan as we were making our way back to KL.
But of course, we made a stop at Seri Jaya, for more food! Hahaha. Been craving for Restoran Sin Tong Kok's big pau. SK had to pre-order, else we wouldn't be able to get it. Ahhhh, a truly fruitful trip to the East Coast.
And look at this coffee shop opposite Sin Tong Kok. It's weird enough that they have a pillar right in the middle of the entrance, but they made it more 'presentable' by installing a huge God of Prosperity on it. LOL. Only in small towns I guess.
P.S.: I didn't get fat from all the food. Blek.