Bored in KL? Head to Bentong

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Bored in KL? Head to Bentong

by My Indie World • December 19, 2022

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Bentong

If like me, you find Kuala Lumpur bewildering to explore as a visitor, well, you can always get out of it for a day and take the highway to a small town nearby.

As I did recently. 

The inspiration to visit Bentong, a small town in the neighboring state of Pahang, actually came when I stumbled upon Restaurant Sri Karak in Petaling Jaya New Town. This restaurant has been there for ages and I am told is famous for its Karak-style noodles and particularly its pastries – its durian puffs are much sought-after.

I tried the “karipop” (curry puff) and I have to say, it was easily one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Crunchy and flaky on the outside and juicy and spicy on the inside.

Anyway, while feasting on the karipop, I looked up Karak on the map and found it was on the KL-Karak Expressway, and behold, Bentong, which I have always wanted to visit, was just a stop before Karak. 

“Why don’t we drive to Bentong on our way to Ipoh and Penang?” I asked Henry. 

“It’s not exactly on the way but ya, why not?” he said. 

Ah, the randomness of travel – that’s the beauty of road trips in Malaysia, I reckon. The roads are good enough and you can cover as much ground or as little as you like, depending on your mood and schedule.

The next day, after breakfast at a coffee shop in Section 17 where I had Robert’s Penang char koay teow (by the way, KL probably has as good char koay teow as in Penang due to the many Penang exiles to be found in the bit city), we set off for Bentong.

Once out of the big city, you realise how much nature Malaysia still has, although much has also disappeared. The highway is fringed by forests on both sides. You see lots of signs for resorts, a sure sign that this is a good escape route for stressed-out urban KL-lites. One, Tiarasa, described as a glamping resort, catches my eye. 

Glamping became huge during the pandemic everywhere – from Thailand to Taiwan – and seems to be also big in Malaysia.

But we had our hearts set for Bentong. Travel websites will tell you the top 10 things to do in Bentong – like visit waterfalls, hot springs, recreation parks – but Henry and I headed straight to an old part of the town where at the end of the road sits a huge Chinese temple called God of Prosperity.

I think any place that promises prosperity for people is bound to be prosperous and this temple certainly looks it. 

A huge, golden statue of the God of Prosperity welcomes you at the entrance.

There are deities everywhere and, to ease the customer journey, there are numbers to guide you as to which deity to pray at in the right order. 

What I found striking about it is that there’s an Indian temple right in the midst of it – I like anything that blends faiths.

In town, we stopped at Tauhu Auntie Mok, known for her bean curd and anything to do with soybean. The bean curd is smooth and silky, and the “tau pok” springy and delicious.

An entrepreneur named “Mr Bentong” seems to have cornered the market on ginger and his face is everywhere we look. We pop into his shop for a look and yes, while ginger is the mainstay of what he sells, the shop also offers everything from cuttlefish from Thailand to biscuits from Ipoh. As I said, entrepreneur …

We then headed for Bentong Happy Farm – we were told by a friend to check it out – but when we arrived, it looked closed and deserted. There was nothing remotely happy about it – neither human or animal – and we were told we had come to the wrong farm. This one offers chalet accommodation while the other Bentong Farm offers a petting zoo and a garden and orchard. 

When you get to Bentong Farm, a huge replica of a durian greets you.

Now this should be the happy farm – we know durians make every Malaysian happy – but it’s not durian season and so we have to be content with other fruits like pomeloes and mangosteens.

The ‘animal attraction” there was somewhat disappointing. I guess it’s more meant for families and kids to pet the animals which include deer, goats and chickens.

The pride of the place is the peacocks, one of which chose to put up quite a display for us.

Next time, I’ll head to Karak to try the noodles.

 

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