Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Baik membawa resmi padi

The past weekend was spent at the wedding reception of my nephew held at his parent's home in Rawang, Selangor. Rather than post more wedding photos, I thought it would be better if I upload pictures taken while we were at Kedah and Perlis the week before.

While the groom and his family headed back to Rawang after the ceremony at the bride's place in Alor Star, we decided to drive a bit further north to Kangar in Perlis to stay at another brother-in-law's place.

We spent two days in Kangar. The first night, my BIL took us out for dinner at Kuala Perlis. We had our fill of fresh seafood. The next day, lunch was at this popular makan place called Anjung Keli. While I do not eat ikan keli (freshwater catfish), my sons love them. Later in the day, my BIL took us to Padang Besar where I bought some imitation football jerseys for my sons.

When we left Kangar the following day, I decided to take the old road to Alor Star rather than the highway, just for adventure. This journey took us past beautiful landscape of paddy fields stretching as far as the eye can see. The scenery reminds me of another Malay proverb that I have used as a title for this post.

A few kilometres before reaching the town of Alor Star, I spotted a roadsign showing the way to Kota Kuala Kedah. I decided to make a detour and was pleasantly surprised to come across a site of historical importance.

View from Kota Kuala Kedah towards upstream

Downstream view from Kota Kuala Kedah towards the sea

Kuala Kedah town and fishermen's jetty on the opposite bank

Kota Kuala Kedah is an old fort built in the early 17th century during the reign of Sultan Sulaiman Shah II. It is located on the north bank at the Sungai Kedah rivermouth. The ruins of the fort is now maintained as a tourist attraction.

The old Shahbandar's house has been converted to a tourist information centre. Note the old Portugese gate in the background.

The old Kuala Kedah lighthouse within the fort compound

After making a quick tour of the fort, we went to look for a place to have lunch. I saw a large signboard of a newly-opened eating place called Restoran Bahtera Nelayan. The way to this restaurant took us along small winding roads right on the edge of some paddy fields. When we finally reached the place, we found a new building built next to the river with part of the structure standing on piles by the water's edge. A wooden jetty connects the building to the river, past some mangrove trees. It was quite a peaceful setting.

Wooden jetty connecting the restaurant to the river's edge

View of Sungai Kedah from the wooden jetty

The restaurant is managed by the local Persatuan Nelayan Kawasan Kuala Kedah and of course, serves mainly seafood. Since I was in the adventurous mood, I had the waitress recommend they way the dishes should be cooked. We had ikan jenahak bakar basah, udang sambal thai and ikan sembilang masak gulai asam.

The bakar basah style refers to grilling the sambal-coated fish in a pouch of aluminium foil. This way, the moisture and flavour is kept within the pouch. The prawns were cooked in a spicy hot sauce that I have never tasted before. The ikan sembilang (saltwater catfish) which I also do not eat, was my son's choice. It was cooked in a simple sour soup not unlike tomyam but not quite. Also somewhat similar to asam pedas but not quite too. The soup contained cubes of keledek (sweet potato) to give the dish a hint of sweetness. A truly unique taste of gulai utara.

Udang sambal thai, gulai asam ikan sembilang and kailan ikan masin

All the dishes tasted delicious and the price was reasonable too. It was worth the trouble driving along the winding lanes to search for the place.

The lovely lunch meant that the driving back to Kuala Lumpur would be tough journey. We left Alor Star and entered the North-South Expressway to head south. We safely reached KL, made a brief stop at a sister's house before driving onwards to Johor Bahru. The full stretch from north to south in a single day.

On the whole, it was a very tiring trip but a very memorable one too.

12 comments:

DrSam said...

What a wonderful journey. I haven't got a chance yet to explore the norther territories (Kedah and Perlis). The nice travelog and your experience really excite me, especially that restaurant on the mangrove.

Nurie said...

wow! U drove all the way from aloq staq to Johor in one day!

A wonderful journey indeed- esp dapat detour to the nelayan restaurant...the food looks so so good! *drooling* eventho i dun take ikan sembilang too!

When I was small, my mom, my sis and me used to frequent alor setar and butterworth road. Bila lalu terusan wan mat saman (betul ke..) i selalu teringat my buku sejarah!
The padi fields memang sehijau mata memandang tapi yg tak syok tu bila lalu ladang getah coz bau busuk! he he..
Dulu kalau tak silap, it took us like 2 and 1/2 hrs to reach alor setar from butterworth in my mom's mazda 808. It has been ages since I last been to Kedah!

zafi said...

uh u shud try nasi ganja in perlis... erm near the bus station n market! sangat2 tempting!

Oldstock said...

Doc,

This is my first time exploring Kedah and Perlis. I have been to all the other states in peninsula. The few days spent there is not enough. Hopefully there is a next time.

Oldstock said...

Noor,

The drive from Kangar back to JB was aided in part by the missus. Kalau sorang-sorang rasanya tak larat.

We didn't have that much time to explore Kedah. I wanted to stop by Masjid Albukhary tapi tak sempat. Terusan Wan Mat Saman pun tak dilihat dari dekat. In fact I have old school friends in Alor Star but couldn't meet up with them.

Maybe next time, insyaallah.

Wow, Mazda 808... classic car.

Oldstock said...

Zafi,

The trip to Kangar was actually not planned because I could not take too long time off work. That's why we didn't go to many places. Mana yg sempat je. I'll remember about the nasi ganja next time I visit Kangar.

I first heard of nasi ganja at Ipoh tapi belum dapat try lagi.

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Wow! So many things to see. So many things to do and so many things to EAT!!! Uhmm..must see if I can persuade my husband to cuti-cuti Malaysia this year instead of going to UK for home leave.

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Sorry, one question - what does "Baik membawa resmi padi" mean?

hanitha said...

salam bro...
wah..hebat tul la..dpd utara ke selatan..lenguh kaki oooo....
tp semmgnyer betul..jauh perjalanan...luar pandangan n tambah pengalaman..
dh lamer tk g alor setar, pekan rabu mmg best, ikan pekasam mmg ramai yg pesan klu ke saner..dulu mmg tk suka makan ikan pekasam tp biler biler dh rasa sekalik..lazat rupernyer ehehehe..lebih2 lgk klu di goreng ngan bawang hiris n cili api, perah limau nipis atas ikan pekasam goreng tu... pergh!!! bak kata pepatah, mak mertua lalu belakang pon tk nampak ehehehehe

Oldstock said...

Andrea,

The full Malay proverb reads, `Baik membawa resmi padi, dari membawa resmi lalang. Resmi padi semakin berisi semakin tunduk.'

I will not even attempt to translate the full proverb. Suffice perhaps, if I give the essence of the meaning : As we grow older and smarter, it is better for us to remain humble (as opposed to becoming more aloof). The analogy with the rice plant here is that as the rice grains develop, the plant bows lower to the ground.

If my other readers can help explain, I'd be most grateful too.

Oldstock said...

Hanitha,

Bila semua orang cakap ikan pekasam rasa sedap, I nak cuba kalau next time ada peluang beli kat Pekan Rabu.

Cuma yg rasa hairan, kenapa kat kedai makan atau restoran takde yg jual ikan pekasam ni?

hanitha said...

emmm....ya la kan...knp tkde kedai makan atau restoran yg jual...kos bahan mentah nyer dh sedia mahal kot? ntah la, nanti kite wat survey :))
bro, cuber bro ikan pekasam, jgn tk cuber...