Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Off the Beaten Tracks......

During the long Wesak Day holiday + weekend, I went to Lumut for a short getaway via the trunk roads of Perak.

The last time i've ever travelled via the trunk roads was during CNY 2006, when the highways were congested way before our balik kampung journey to Penang could were begin. The last time before 2006 was......heck, i can't even remember when......gotta be when i was a kid coz everyone took the trunk roads balik kampung (no highways then) and I can remember the 'thrills' of Dad overtaking huge lorries, and you can see the car from the opposite direction coming real quick.

Well, anyway it was a very interesting trip to Lumut and its surrounding provinces within the Manjung district.

A quick rundown of my experiences during this trip :

Day 1

Destination : KL - Bidor - Setiawan - Lumut Port - Damai Laut

Since we departed during the night, nothing to really watch out for but to concentrate on the trunk roads which does not have street lights. Occasionally passed by what i believe are rubber estate plantations, palm oid plantations and paddy fields. Dare not look around for fear of funny creatures with red eyes staring back at me. Checked into Swiss Garden Damai Laut Apartments around 12:30 am

Bet you dont' know this : there's actually a brightly lit village called Kampung Baru Coldstream somewhere between Bidor to Setiawan. Can't miss it, especially after straining my eyes on the road. Wondered how that name came about.

Day 2

Destination : Damai Laut - Segari - Pantai Remis - Trong/Terong (Day return trip)

We started our journey after lunch with a very basic map provided by Swiss Garden Resort.

First stop : Segari Turtle Sanctuary

I never knew Lumut has a turtle sanctuary, let alone a turtle nesting ground. It's only after The Star highlighted this spot in their travel column, I had to go there.

I loved turtles and tortoise since young. And I have always been frustrated that I have never seen a turtle in real life. So this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After losing our way (we missed two turnings and there wasn't any signboards to guide us), we were finally there! It was just a humble building with no one around, made me wonder if it was open to visitors after all. But since i'm already there, i'm going in anyway to see turtles.

And then......I saw them.

Gliding beneath the waters of the two huge swimming pools.

Beautiful creatures. So graceful yet strong.

And they actually come up to the water to take a gasp of air, how amazing!

I stood there for a very long time, never imagine a chance to come across a turtle so huge. The one in the photo is an Olive Ridley (Penyu Agar). I know it's a pity they can't go to the huge sea, but some of them needs to be saved anyway.

Next to the huge pools was a sheltered area with about 5 tanks. Each of these tanks contained turtles. Two of them contained young Olive Ridley turtles, one of them the Green turtle, and two more are baby Olive Ridleys. One batch of them just hatched the night before.

The kind caretaker Encik Beshari offered me to carry a younger Olive Ridley, which i didn't do so, but I don't regret it, coz it's quite heavy, and I worry I will hurt it. So I just pat its shell. It looked kinda frightened too anyway.

We also visited the site where the eggs were buried. This is not where the turtle come up to lay their eggs, but a safer shelter for the baby turtles to hatch.

What happens is whenever a villager spots a turtle laying eggs, he or she will dig the eggs up and sell them to Encik Beshari. The sanctuary will pay them at a premium, so they won't sell the eggs in the black market.

Once they hatched, they will be transferred to the tanks until their are slightly older.

Bet you don't know this : Eggs that are exposed to more sunlight for 45 days will produce female turtles, while eggs that are carefully shaded for up to 60 days will produce male turtles.

We are also allowed to release the baby turtles into the sea for RM10 per turtle. Well, of course I had to do it!! Released five altogether......aww......I just felt so helpless watching them swimming towards the sea, not knowing what will happen to them. I pray that they will survive and one day return to Lumut to nest again.

We're almost home!!

My favourite photo - "First steps"

Second stop : Trong Hot Springs

After almost an hour and a few wrong turns again, we ended up at the Trong Hot Springs.

The spring itself is around 100 years old, but is only developed some five years back. Upon entering, I was welcomed by a young teenager, asking us to try the temperature of the water of the first spring. Well, it was actually relatively warm. We tested the water of the second spring, and it was very warm. In fact the temparature of the second spring was 48C!!!

What do to in a hot spring if you can't bathe in it? Just soak your feet then!!! We requested for huge pails to be filled with the warmer hot spring water. Then, taking a deep breath, I put both my foot into the pail.

OUCH!!!!! OUCH!!!!!! OUCH!!!!

It felt like someone poured hot water onto my legs. I tried moving around, but it did not ease the scalding feeling. The young girl then advised me to keep calm and don't move my legs. It really worked!! So I was there sitting down and soaking my feet for a good one hour. Whenever the water turned slightly colder, I requested for it to be changed, and went through the pain again, but it gets better once I'm used to it.

Bet you don't know this : Soaking your feet in a hot spring for one hour produces the same effect as exercising - sweating, heart beating faster. If you told someone you just came back from jogging, they would probably believe you.

After one hour, my feet were red and swollen till i can't wear back my shoes!! I was also soaking wet with sweat - the effects were just amazing!! Since they do not have a fixed charge for their services, I paid them RM10 for the experience.

Third Stop : Pantai Remis

We basically headed to Pantai Remis for dinner, as per The Star, seafood there is cheap and fresh. The papers noted a restaurant named Li Song Kee, whose clientele includes former MCA president Datuk Dr Ling Liong Sik and actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh. We thought "the food gotta be good there". When we arrived at the restaurant around 6.30pm, it was still empty.

Hmm......did we ended up in another restaurant instead?

Anyway, we went in and requested for table for two. Guess what? After checking with one of the workers, the restaurant was fully booked!!! No wonder it was empty!!!

We had to go to other places for dinner, and somehow rather, the choices are limited. So we ended up in another restaurant. The lady said we have to wait 1/2 hour for the food. Fine by me - I'm too tired and hungry to go elsewhere......so we ordered tom yam prawns, steamed fish, taufu and kailan. The food was good, and the seafood was indeed very fresh. Yummy......

After buying some biscuits, kacang tumbuk and wafers from a nearby biscuit shop, we headed back to the apartment......zzzzzz......

Day 3

Destination : Damai Laut - Lumut - Ayer Tawar - Seri Iskandar - Menglembu - Simpang Pulai - Ipoh - Bidor - KL

We packed and headed to Lumut for breakfast. I was dreaming of having hot coffee and toasted bread with kaya and butter, but when we were in Lumut, there's no coffeeshop to be seen!!! Instead, every corner you will see Nasi Kandar shops!!! What's going on with Lumut and Nasi Kandar??

We finally found one small coffeeshop with one stall selling kuey teow soup...what to do......after that we headed back to KL, opting for the Ayer Tawar - Seri Iskandar trunk route. Nothing insteresting along the way, except that I misintepreted the map, and we ended up to Menglembu instead of Batu Gajah......well, we did see the giant Kacang Menglembu at one of the roundabouts.....so after a few hours journey (including a late lunch stop at Bidor), I'm finally back home!!

Highlights of the trip : Having able to release turtles into the sea

Only Regret? : Did not take a photo of the 25 hour restaurant somewhere along the way.

It was certainly an enjoyable trip. Makes me wanna retire now, buy a plot of land and start my own vegetable plot. Will I be bored? Well, there's always Astro.....


chwiny said...

I never knew there were these turtle farms on the way...the bb ones r super cute!

nileey said...

yeah - if not for The Star feature, i will never know too...and yes!! they are very very cute indeed!

ChinoDevean said...

wah nice trip! I had crab for the first time in 8 mths, at chinese steamboat. So miss Malaysian food. Yet to see any cute tortoises to add to your collection. The Brits just aren't very good at art.