Get Out to Kuala Kurau

18 December 2015

For a break from the city, head out to Kuala Kurau in Perak, just a three and a half hour journey from KL.

Named after the silver threadfin fish that were found in abundance at its river mouth, Kuala Kurau sits snugly in the north west part of the state of Perak. According to locals, this village has been here since the 1800s, established primarily as a fishing village with occasional swathes of paddy fields and swamps.

There is only one main street snaking through the “town” area, flanking it are charming old Chinese double-storeys, tiny blast-from-the-past petrol stations and a religious shrine or two every now and then. A flyover road is a somewhat new addition that links the main area to another part of town called Bagan Seberang. Before that drivers needed to use a small ferry that could only take two cars at once to get across.

Even as the village goes through its daily motions; the morning market crowd, kids coming back from school, families heading out for dinner, there is a perpetual sense of “taking it slow” here. Old men sit and stare out at the waters as they have a cigarette and drink some warm beer. This scene repeats itself at every shaded roadside bench, every kopitiam, be it daytime or night.

It is therefore surprising to find Mr Ng here. At age 37 this year, he is a clear lover of the arts, and an enterprising one at that. Most people from out of town that visit Kuala Kurau end up getting to know him and are better off for it because of his warm hospitality and local know-how.

Ng quit his job as a supplier development engineer and now calls himself a photographer. Meeting him in Kuala Kurau, he explained that he had just come back from a shoot in Thailand. He comes back, of course, to his other project - Ikan Kurau Homestay.

While backpacking through other holiday spots, Ng begun to appreciate the beauty of his hometown more and more. He saw the quiet life, friendly locals, great food and scenery as something exceedingly attractive to people who lead busy lives in claustrophobic cities.

After two years of constant retooling and painstaking refurbishing, Ikan Kurau Homestay opened its doors in January 2015. Boasting a wide and inviting wood panelled common area strewn with beanbags, the space opens up to a back porch that extends out towards the sea. Calming tunes from a frequency dial radio play softly in background throughout the day. This place feels like home, but a very beautifully curated, nostalgia-tinged home.

The dorms and room upstairs bear the same sense of inviting coziness. Unlike hostels that try to cram as many rooms as possible into a space, Ikan Kurau’s design reflects the owners’ intention of giving his guests space to breathe and relax. Often, guests are drawn to lounge around the living room or the back porch talking quietly or reading a book. If one wakes up early in time for sunrise, the reward will not only be the sight of a pink-purple sky but also the view of fishermen starting their boats and heading out to sea.

Besides lazing around all day, as one is wont to do in such lulling circumstances, Ng recommends and will help arrange bicycle rentals for a bike ride through the rice fields. Reserve sunrise watching for mornings at Ikan Kurau and do sunsets while cycling in the evening breeze amid rows and rows of paddy fields. Weave through small dirt roads into the kampung with its pastel wooden houses. If you get lost, just pause to ask, the residents are probably as curious about you as you are about them.

Joo Hong Chan, famed supplier of salted eggs is another place you can visit while here in Kuala Kurau. With just six workers and a lady boss manning the place, this simple production line churns out more than 10,000 salted eggs per day. Duck eggs are used instead of chicken eggs because their tougher shells withstand all the rolling around an egg has to take when being processed.

First, the eggs go through inspection and sorting, and are then dipped into a yellow-ochre mixture of red earth and salt. The sticky, coated eggs are then rolled down a chute containing roasted rice husks, picking up another layer of coating on their way down. Workers give them a light pat down at the end and then pack them into plastic egg trays.

If you decide to sample their handiwork, ask for the green-hued eggs, they apparently taste better than the normal-coloured duck eggs and are also priced a little higher.

This is as flashy as it gets here in Kuala Kurau. Its main draw has always been the small town charm that it exudes. Ng is not the first and certainly not the last to see the potential in the village. The unoccupied shophouse next to his is already rumoured to be also turning into a homestay as well. Ng doesn’t see it as a threat, though. In fact, he seems positively curious about the new changes awaiting his small hometown.


Website             : http://www.ikankurau.com/

Add                       : Ikan Kurau Homestay 77 Jalan Pantai, 34350 Kuala Kurau.

Contact              : ikankurau77@hotmail.com

Price range       : RM38 - RM228 per night

 

Website               : -

Add                        : Telur Masin Joo Hong Chan 125, Jalan Besar, 34350 Kuala Kurau

Contact               : 05-7277296 (Tel), 05-7278002 (Fax)

Price range        : RM13 - RM 38 per box

 

By Adeline Chua

 

 

 

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