A Road Trip to Sekinchan, Selangor: Coffee by the Fields


Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side?


My friend Joyce and I met up for a late New Year’s celebration in March. It was then that we decided it was ripe time to bring our long-shelved road trip idea to life. After all, the coronavirus restrictions were being relaxed, and people were beginning to venture out more. We checked our calendars. Holy kamoley! The only day when both of us would be free was the following weekend. That was too soon, considering I’d hardly travelled beyond the twenty-kilometre radius in the last two years. Nevertheless, we were both determined to have a blast of a trip to feast our eyes on lush green paddy fields and catch up on missed miles. So Sekinchan would be our start. 


reaching delphi, Sekinchan


Since neither of us are early-weekend risers, we decided to meet at 9:30 a.m. In case you are wondering, Sekinchan is a well-known fishing village and one of Malaysia’s major rice producers. Seeing vast paddy fields is not new to either of us, as we both grew up in Malaysia. Joyce in particular has endless fascinating tales of growing up in Kedah, the rice bowl state of Malaysia. On the other hand, I had only dreamed of walking in these green fields from the passenger’s seat, but I was determined to change that because we were going to have a picnic by the fields! 

According to the GPS app, Sekinchan was only seventy kilometres away from our homes, and the drive to our destination would take an hour. Joyce had already picked up coffee and some muffins by the time I picked her up. I brought lemon drizzle slices, paper plates, and cups. A sixth sense told me to transfer the coffee to an unused flask I had in the back seat. Our picnic basket was complete. 




After thirty-five minutes of travelling on newly paved but unfamiliar roads, we noticed a beautiful hilltop temple, so we made a pit stop here. We were in Ijok, Bukit Rotan, at the Sri Shakti Devasthanam Temple. I had vaguely heard about this temple’s impressive craftsmanship and was glad to have a chance to appreciate its magnificence. The elephant sculptures, basking on the outer walls, welcomed us. We couldn’t wait to get in, for the glorious sun was beating our backs. Alas, we were only allowed to take photos up to this point. 




Later, back in the car, my friend checked her apps and scratches her head. Despite the travel thus far, Joyce calmly pointed out that we still had to travel seventy-six kilometres. Oh dear, our eyes were now wide open, and eyebrows raised high! Our navigation app was not wrong, but this route was taking us on a yo-yo ride. Joyce sipped her cold ‘hot’ chocolate while the coffee in the thermos was becoming cool.




We continued cruising and admiring the quaint shops along the way, and soon after, we were relieved to note the distance to Kuala Selangor (a major town near Sekinchan) on green signboards decreasing. But as we approached Kuala Selangor, the sun shied away behind dark clouds, and moments later – rain! Heavens to Betsy, my thoughts were of a wet picnic and cold coffee. 




We braved the rain, which thankfully lasted only ten minutes. But the sun still tucked itself behind sheets of thick cloud as we drove nearer Sekinchan. Alas! Boy oh boy, we were rejoicing at the sights of grassy fields. High five! We’d made it. We’d made it! 

Since we were wary of the weather, the first thing we did was park haphazardly beside one of the fields for some pictures. The picture below was the first of the many at the fields. 


reaching delphi, Sekinchan, coffee


Next – brekkie. Whoopee, coffee was still hot. A job well-done flask-o! This flask, by the way, was a gift I received many years ago. At last, picnic by the fields! Well almost. 😉 

 
reaching delphi, Sekinchan, coffee


Our List of Things to Do in Sekinchan

Visit the Paddy Museum (Muzium Padi) and Paddy Fields

Having learned about the significance of rice in Malaysia during our primary school days, the paddy museum was an excellent stop to get ourselves updated on the latest technologies and machinery used to produce and process the crop and learn about the various varieties popular in this area. 

The longer the rice grain, the more premium its quality. Short grain is generally more popular and costs lesser than the long. Did you also know that just like oat bran, there is rice bran? Have you heard of rice oil and broken rice? Well, during the milling or polishing process, rice grains can break. These pieces are called broken rice, which by the way, are not defective. In fact, it has the same amount of nutrients as whole rice. In Asia, broken rice costs less than whole rice. On the other hand, rice bran oil is extracted from the husk of rice grains. It has a lot of benefits for overall wellness – including being a good source of vitamins E and K.

Anyone can visit Sekinchan and the Paddy Museum any time of the year. Depending on the time of the year, one could see lush green fields (this is the transplanting period, which happens twice a year in March and September) or golden-yellow fields (the harvest period, which is in June and December). Since we were there in April, we saw growing rice that wasn’t at its peak. 


reaching delphi, Sekinchan, coffee


We purchased some healthy rice snacks from the store on our way out. It certainly felt good to know that the rice used in making these would be from one of these plots of land. 


Trying Local Delicacies

During our commute to Sekinchan that morning, we talked about having char kuey teow (fried flat rice noodles) for lunch. So, after the visit to the museum, we stopped by a couple of kopitiams (old coffee shops), but unfortunately, these shops were only serving rice meals at that hour. Luckily our navigation app promptly suggested Padi Char Kuey Teow – just two kilometres away. So, time-wise, we were only four minutes away from a superb lunch. Double whoopee! 

Getting to Padi Char Kuey Teow was just as venturesome as getting to Sekinchan. Instead of four, it took us over twenty minutes to reach this place, passing through what I called UFO land, which was miles and miles of private rice fields. The seesaw navigation was not fun and only made our tummies growl louder.  

Can you guess what we saw when we finally got to Padi Char Kuey Teow? It was closed! It was the fasting month of Ramadhan; hence, the restaurant was not open for lunch. So, we got out of the car to ask if anyone would be kind to cook us aliens some of their famous noodles on request. But unfortunately, no one was around except for a snoozing cat.

 


Padi Box

On the way to lunch, we spotted Padi Box, a unique and colourful hostel or homestay built out of recycled freight containers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to explore the accommodation because it hadn’t reopened for business. 
 

N16 Cafe

On the same road as the Padi Box was N16 Café, a refurbished bus café that sat on a container. If you don’t know how our buses were back in the day, this is an opportunity for you to experience being inside one. Unfortunately, only diners were allowed to take photographs inside the cafe. Since we had overloaded on black juice for the day, we decided not to go in. We tried to peek in but weren’t tall enough to reach its high windows. 

 
reaching delphi, Sekinchan, coffee


Local Fruits

When you are in Sekinchan, and if you are a mango lover, you are in for a treat. Sekinchan mangos, also known as Mango King, are king-sized in length and weight. I was surprised to see one-foot-long local mangoes.  

Fruit rojak is a local fruit salad with black sauce and topped with lots of crushed peanuts. This salad is a delicious light snack. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try one because the sauce for the salad was pre-mixed with shrimp paste, something I do not take. The kind seller suggested we try the mixed fruits without the sauce instead. But, seriously, that’s not as good, so we skipped this. 

 
reaching delphi, Sekinchan, coffee


Seafood Galore and a Visit to Bagan Fishing Village

Sekinchan is a fishing village, and it’s no wonder seafood lovers come here for a delicious, fresh treat. The most well-known fishing village here is Bagan Village. We arrived in Bagan Village early afternoon and noted many colourful fishing boats already docked. We sensed the fishermen were back with their catch when we saw people walking away to their cars with fresh bags of seafood. 


bagan, Sekinchan, coffee


We weren’t as hungry when we finally got to have lunch, so we split an order of fried noodles (char kuey teow) at the seafood joint! Sorry, Joyce, for depriving you of the famous Sekinchan seafood. Luckily, Joyce did try some fried squid, which she said was satisfying. Whew! Now I don’t feel as bad.
 

Sekinchan Wishing Tree

We had renewed energy levels when we got to Sekinchan’s Wishing Tree at Pantai Redang. Over here, devotees of all ages and faiths get red ribbons for a small donation at the temple nearby, write their wishes on them, and toss them up onto the branches of the Wishing Tree

This is an extraordinary tree simply because it is pretty in red and full of people’s wishes. I, too, made a wish for everyone’s good health and tossed my ribbon up. While I was doing that, Joyce looked out for a high branch to toss hers to. 

It is believed that the higher the ribbon lands, the higher the chance of the wish coming true. Well, may all our wishes come true.

 
bagan, Sekinchan, coffee


Pantai Redang

Sun-sand-sea lovers will find the visit to Pantai Redang the icing on the cake, and this was the best way to end our sightseeing trip. Despite the heat, I found solace at the pier under the scorching sun! One must love the sun to be at this beach because there is hardly any shade for cover. Joyce, too, must have sensed this earlier because while I toasted under the sun, she relished an ice cream on a swing under the shady Wishing Tree nearby. Thankfully the wind was blowing generously. 


bagan, Sekinchan, coffee


Despite the rough sea, the hot temperature had managed to lure people into the water. So many people were bathing in the warm sea, while a handful more were out with fishing rods at the pier close to where I was sitting. I wondered if they had caught anything, but I was too in a daze to ask. Shortly after, Joyce joined me. 


bagan, Sekinchan, coffee


Pantai Redang is small but is a fun-filled getaway that offers something for everyone. Other family activities at the beach include soap balloon blowing and kite flying. 

 

bagan, Sekinchan, coffee


 
So, back to my question – is the grass greener over on the other side? Sekinchan was greener than my balcony garden (by the way, I have a new batch of tomato seedlings, so I am super excited to see them grow 😊). But this proverb has a deeper meaning in life and differs for each. I believe there is rich greenery on both sides as long as there is an opportunity to grow and improve.

Opportunities are often disguised. We take our chances every day and hope our decisions are correct and in the best interest of us and the important ones around us. Some decisions involve change, and that’s another topic saved for another post.

My mother passed away a few days after this trip unexpectedly. She was not well the day before I was at the fields, but she told me to go ahead with my plan. A few weeks before that, she reminded me to keep travelling to relax and release the built-up tension. I have always known her as a positive person, creating green in any rough patch, and boy, she loved her greens! I am pretty sure she would have loved visiting Sekinchan too. She has instilled the same positivity in me since I was young, and I hope to carry that outlook in life in my ways. Counting Stars, Reaching Delphi for a greener every day.  

bagan, Sekinchan, coffee

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8/05/2022

    Wow! Was planning to go with both Shams… thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete