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A Local’s Guide to Sungai Buloh
The quiet, industrial town in Selangor is putting itself back on the map thanks to its fascinating history, lush greenery and traditional eateries.
Located along the Kuala Selangor highway, the Sungai Buloh settlement was first formed in 1930 when the British government set up a leprosy settlement near Bukit Lagong. Today, Sungai Buloh is known as a quiet, suburban town surrounded by nature, but it’s also becoming a major transportation hub with the launch of the Phase 1 Kajang-Sungai Buloh MRT. Here's a look at some of the best things to see and do in this town.
Valley of Hope
In the 1920s, leprosy patients in Malaysia were living in awful conditions in a cramped facility in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. Recognising the plight of this forgotten community, Dr. E A O Travers, a high-ranking British health official, lobbied for the creation of a more humane facility where patients could receive necessary treatment as well as live in comfort and dignity. In 1930, the Sungai Buloh leprosarium was officially opened and became the second largest leprosy settlement in the world. Located in a lush valley with streams and mountains running through it, this mini utopia was a self-sustaining community complete with houses, farms and places of worship, providing both hope and humanity to the people who called it home.
With most of its 2,000 residents having rejoined society after modern leprosy treatments were made available in the 1970s, the settlement is now a cultural landmark. Today, Valley of Hope is open to the public with guided tours and a heritage museum scheduled for completion later this year to remind everyone of its unique place in Malaysian and world history.
Address: Jalan Hospital, Sungai Buloh, 47000 Selangor.
Call 03 6138 8536 or 012 467 7011 to book a heritage tour.
Restoran Lee Hong Kee
This popular Sungai Buloh institution draws hungry visitors from all over neighbouring states with its traditional Chinese fare. Reservations are essential, judging from the long lines that stretch well beyond the entrance during lunch and dinner. Favourites here include the poached chicken garnished generously with basil, mint and spring onion that's served steaming hot in a traditional bamboo basket, with accompanying soy sauce poured over upon serving.
Other recommendations include the restaurant's rendition of poon choi, a Cantonese dish that's stuffed with a medley of abalone, fish maw, steamed prawns, pig's skin, beancurd and broccoli; as well as Dong Duk Gai (standing chicken), a whole roasted chicken that's skewered through the middle and served upright.
Address: 3, 5, 7 & 9 Jalan Kati GU19/G, Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, 47000 Selangor (03 6140 2678). Open Mon, 11am-3pm; Tue-Sun, 11.30am-3pm & 6pm-11pm.
3Bears Drip & Dutch Café
This new café on Jalan Tong Seng is the brainchild of South Korean Will Jung Young Soo, who decided to open his flagship gallery in Sungai Buloh after discovering how purveyors of specialty coffee were almost non-existent in the area. Coffee beans are also roasted in-house by Jung, who doubles up as the head barista.
Signatures here include the hand drip coffee, which can be fully customised based on your tastes and preferred brewing methods. Brewing tools that the café takes pride in include cotton flannel filters, ice drips and Moka pots. The ready-to-drink Premium Dutch Coffee range is another standout, featuring bottled americano, latte, mocha and even a coffee concentrate which can be served with ice cream or milk. 3Bears also provides a selection of Korean food like jumeokbap (rice balls), ramyeon (instant noodles) and dosirak (Korean-style bento).
Address: 21-G & 1, LGSB 1/4, Pusat Komersial LGSB, Off Jalan Hospital, Sungai Buloh, 47000 Selangor (011 1434 6778). Open Tue-Sun, 11am-12midnight.
Kota Damansara Community Forest Park
Kota Damansara may be known as an area on its own, but it’s geographically a subdistrict of Sungai Buloh. Kota Damansara Community Forest Park used to be part of the now defunct Sungai Buloh community forest reserve, which was the oldest reserve in Peninsular Malaysia. At the heart of the park lies an artificial lake that was created when a previous stream was cut off by development and road works.
Nature lovers will be fascinated by the hundreds of species of flora and fauna, while more adventurous individuals can hike up one of the fourteen nature trails or participate in activities like mountain biking, camping and kayaking amidst a picturesque, natural landscape.
Address: Jalan Merbah 10/1, Seksyen 10 Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya, 47810 Selangor.
Sin Sang Loong Hakka Hot Plate Pancakes
The over three decades-old Sin Sang Loong is where locals crowd around the small, partially hidden stall for traditional Hakka pancakes served piping hot off the griddle.
Stuffed with your choice of red bean, peanut or coconut paste, the pancakes have a golden crisp on the outside but are soft and chewy in the middle. Be sure to come early as the bestsellers here are often snapped up by teatime.
Address: 345 Jalan Besar, Sungai Buloh, 47000 Selangor (03 6156 2931). Open daily, 11am-4pm.
By Erik Gan
Photos of 3Bears Drip & Dutch Café courtesy of the café.
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