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Scenes from Bentong Town
From a sleepy village to a thriving commercial and tourism centre, Bentong, Pahang has stood the test of time and is now seeing a revival in its local trade and businesses. We explore Bentong on foot to unearth the town’s old and new identities.
Ask the residents of Bentong, Pahang and most of them will agree on one thing: the town has more people and road traffic than it did 20 years ago.
Bentong is located along Karak Highway, en route to major towns and destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands, Kuantan and Cameron Highlands. On a weekend, local vacationers flock the town for a day trip to stock up on good food, fresh produce and most notably, ginger. Bentong ginger is known for its depth of spiciness and darker-coloured skin, due to its cultivation in cool and temperate terrains.
Bentong’s morning market is a cacophony of vendors and patrons haggling for the best prices. On the second floor, an old eatery serves comforting bowls of wan tan mee, while a quieter side houses several traditional tailor shops.
Tourism is now a major source of income for the thriving town. Today, family businesses see a revival as the old switch hands with the young.
In the last 30 years, old textile shops make way for new additions such as comic bookstores, galleries and restaurants. New factories spring up on Bentong’s periphery, producing local goods such as timber, electronic components, copper, and soy products such as soy sauce and beancurd.
Two small bridges link Bentong town to neighbouring Kampung Perting, a community comprised largely of retired rubber tappers and small business owners. Here, time remains at a standstill despite the spillover of Bentong’s growth from trade and commerce.
Presently, about 4,000 residents live in Kampung Perting. With its growing prosperity comes a new two-storey library, and a modest clubhouse dedicated to birdwatchers – which also doubles as a hangout spot to play mahjong.
Text and photos by Lillian Wee
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