Twenty four hours in Muar
After an unexpected week relaxing at the Ancasa Royale in Pekan, by far the best value, nicest hotel we have stayed in this trip, we hit the road again and headed to Muar. The three and a half hour drive took a little longer after our google sat nav decided to take us off piste on a thirty minute detour down one track village lanes before leading us back to the road we had previously left, awesome. Actually we did see some beautiful animal shapes the trees were incidentally making so not an entirely wasted trip. Other than that the drive was nice and uneventful, mile upon mile of palm plantation spiced up only by the no entry and if you enter we will shoot you signs, the first time we have seen such, which made us wonder what they were really growing. We also saw the occasional ‘Drive safely Tapir Crossing’ signs, no tapir yet but we live in hope and we did see a magnificent monitor lizard.
Safely settled into our new hotel, the Elite, sadly in name not nature, clean sheets and well clean sheets are sometimes enough aren’t they? and we do travel with antibacterial wipes, lots and lots of wipes. No really it was not too bad until the people next door started smoking and our bathroom took on the disgusting aroma of an ashtray but anyway we were here to see the town not the bathroom so off we went. Well only next door actually as it was quite late and we were a bit tired and next door is an Old Town White Coffee, a nice easy chain maybe like a Malaysian IHOP without the pancakes but with a mean lime juice and a very nice wonton mee with pork.
The next morning bright and early, yeah ok fine, maybe just a little later than bright and early we headed out to have a meander to Jalan Haji Abu, Muar’s famous food street. Sidetracked almost immediately by a Hindu Temple we diverted momentarily to admire the detailed carvings on the roof and the ornate stonework inside. Some places we have visited in Malaysia have not been very welcoming so it was lovely that the three men we encountered in the temple grounds all smiled and said hello to us. Admiration in check we kept wandering. Our first stop was for pork buns, we’ve had them in many places, the best so far in Penang and this light and fluffy creation filled with sweet tasty pork was most definitely on a par with it. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on which way you look at it, we were completely full after one bun, pathetic. So we scouted around for what we would come back for later, stopping to pick up some candied bacon we passed, I know! Candied bacon, which was amazing when we nibbled it later but also felt a little like you were eating a heart attack. We found a pomelo to counteract the fatty bacon, our first pomelo and we both quite liked it’s meaty segments. A bit more nice wandering and we headed back to the hotel for a little rest.
All of the buildings on the main streets in old town are painted the same colour, red street, yellow street and blue street which makes it easy to navigate as well as rather charming. Many of the buildings are colonial era shophouse style, similar to those in Penang and Ipoh.
Our second outing included lemon and lime juice from Bentaya, one of the many vendors I had read about while researching Muar, and it lived up to the hype, fresh, ever so sour but sweet, refreshing and absolutely fantastic and served by a lovely smiling old man only too happy to pose for a photo when asked. Juice on board we headed in search of something a little more substantial, passing wonderful fluffy Hainanese bread stalls, sweet cake stalls and a mass of other stalls many of which we had no idea what they were serving. Doing a food tour in KL and Penang were great for our food knowledge but you can only cover so much in a few hours and there is a LOT of wonderful food here. We settled on Hong Kee, a street side restaurant we had seen before serving tasty looking Char siu, crispy pork and duck with rice, we ordered a mixed plate and were soon given a huge one, quickly followed by a plate of duck and rice, which we had not expected but tucked into before the owner could berate the server for giving us someone else’s plate, ah well. We gave our apologies to the chap whose dinner we were tucking into and kept going, everything was delicious. When it came to paying the owner would not accept any money for the dish we had been mistakenly given, despite our protesting we had clearly eaten it, and loved it, he said we should return and eat there again instead.
I know it sounds a lot but we really didn’t eat that much yet were so full we could have burst (I’ve lost over 14lbs since the trip began, our last hotel had scales so I now know this, yay!) and we made our way back to the hotel via a very nice mall, our new found walk through air conditioning unit.
The people we have encountered here have been really lovely. Be it cultural or otherwise, as I mentioned before in some places we have not felt so welcome or comfortable, being on the end of unpleasant stares, mutterings and the like. Luckily the lovely people we have met more than outweigh any unpleasant ones.
It really was a lovely relaxed day and today we are off to Malacca and if we thought today was good, Malacca is supposed to be as foodie heaven as Penang. Good thing I lost all that weight then now isn’t it Xx