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Motormouth From Ipoh

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Motormouth in Betong, Thailand - 2 Countries in 1 Day

For the sake of first-timers, or the newly-poisoned (followers) of this blog, Betong is a quiet (depending on how you look at it, really) town in southern Thailand, that shares its border with the even smaller and serene town of Pengkalan Hulu in northern Perak.

WHERE again you ask?!!! Just refer to my old posts (Betong - The Town Over the Border). Still reeling from the day's stretched-out meeting. And the after-effect of Monday blues.

Lenggong's Famous Loh Dee Wan Tan Mee - Notice even the press has covered this small, almost barely noticeable hut along the main road of Lenggong. Blink and you'll miss it.

Okay, for the benefit of those lazybums (you know who you are), here's a short, short recollection. Last July (exactly a year ago), we went on a 3 days 2 nights trip to Betong, Thailand. From Ipoh to Pengkalan Hulu, it takes about two and a half hours worth of journey by car. Crossing over from Pengkalan Hulu to the other side, aka the Darker/Sinful side (hehe), it takes only about 10 minutes of travelling.

But of course, you have to get down from your car, fill in forms, get your passport stamped, etc etc. More on that later, in this very post.

The almost idyllic town of Lenggong, Perak.

From the PLUS highway northbound, we exited the Kuala Kangsar toll, and proceeded towards Gerik (Timur)/Lenggong. Don't worry, there are ample signboards to guide even the blind-est of person. ;)

Tiny, miniscule fried fish balls from Khen Pang Restaurant - The supposedly famous Lenggong fishballs. This restaurant was even featured in The Star (click HERE for the article)

Then after about an hour's worth of travelling (and incessant naggings IF you've children in your car, or those impatient young-at-hearts), you'll reach the small town of Lenggong. Lenggong is famous because of the erm, infamous Perak cave man. A skeleton of a pre-historic cave man found through some serious excavation and made Lenggong a household name of sorts, amongst the eyes of the world. The archaelogists' world, of course.

For breakfast, we stopped over for some good old Wan Tan Mee at Loh Dee, then crossing over to the opposite side of the street for some fishballs at Khen Pang. A funny scene ensued, as we expected gigantic, huge and bouncy fishballs. Thus I asked for 8 biji (8 pieces), but the waitress laughed it off. Okay ...... she explained that the balls come smaller than usual (hehe, how ironic - mimicking REAL life situation eh? ;P) and the portion served are in tens.

So we took up her offer and proudly exclaimed that ten should be enough. And the 5-10 minutes wait was a little suspicious, given the fact that fishballs simply DO NOT take that long to cook. The whole shop was occupied by uncles and aunties in their 60's, enjoying their leisure bite while scanning the dailies.

And we nearly choked (before we even put the balls into our mouths) when the fishballs were served. Smaller than a 50 cents coin, and deep-fried with lots of oil (the plate was greased like no other - even John Travolta would have been proud!), the only consolation was the balls were bouncy, or with QQ texture. I knew because we did some erm, bouncing experiment on the plate itself. Not something that we'll return for in the future. For directions to Loh Dee Wan Tan Mee and Khen Pang (opposite of Loh Dee), click HERE.

1. Get your departure/arrival form filled for you @ RM2, OR fill them up yourselves.
2. Get in line and wait until your turn for your passport/border pass to be verified and stamped.
3. If you're driving/riding over the border, show your original car grant (or photostated one, but verified by the police - Balai Polis Air Panas over at Pengkalan Hulu can serve you well) and get a declearation form (that's how it's spelled) for your vehicle. RM3 fee is chargeable.
4. And you're GOOD to go !!!!

Dang ... it was cloudy the day we went. Let's make a few quick rounds, and begone!


The largest mailbox in the world (all NINE metres of it!)


Krua Samui Thai Restaurant @ Sukkayang Road, Betong, Thailand

Fast-forward to lunch hour, we warped in a flash to Krua Samui Thai Restaurant, an authentic Thai restaurant in Betong, previously recommended by a "local" (not really, as Aunt Yoong is a Penangite who resides in Betong, but still ...), and the previous post of mine featured the many dishes we ordered for dinner during our trip to Betong last year.

Pork Intestines with Black Pepper, Tom Yum Seafood, Green Curry Chicken, Kerabu Chicken Feet Salad and Sambal Belacan Paku-Pakis (fern leaves)

Since the restaurant opens from 10.00am until 10.00pm (Thailand timezone, one hour earlier than Malaysian time), we decided to drop our anchor, and appease our hunger pangs, before deciding on our next plan for the day.

The stir-fried pork intestines with black pepper was still as flavourful as our previous visit, maintaining its crunchy texture, while heavily seasoned and stir-fried with cili padi (beware), and scallions. The Tom Yum at Krua Samui's resembled the version served in Malaysia, not very spicy, but with a heavier tinge of sourness. Still, beats the average Tom Yum hands down, if you ask me. The Kerabu Chicken Feet packed some punch, in the forms of finely chopped bird's eye chillies (cili padi), hence proceed with caution. You wouldn't want to emerge at the end of the meal with bee-stung lips. Lest you're a Jolie's groupie. The Green Curry chicken was spicier than the milder version served in Malaysia, even to the point of overwhelming the slightly piquant Tom Yum, which paled in comparison to this! And the Sambal Belacan (spicy shrimp paste) Paku-pakis was delicious, crunchy stems, leafy greens, with addictive kick.

The meal came to 550baht (RM60) for the four of us, including coconut drinks (whole coconuts, not watered down version in glasses), and sugar cane juice. Realise that you CAN use Ringgit Malaysia in Betong, it's accepted in every shop, but at a different rate than last time, given the weaker ringgit as of now.

For location, please refer to my old post HERE. Should be easy to find, as you just proceed north from the clock tower in Betong town.

From chickens to dinosaurs, and temples to Buddha statue. Betong is indeed, a riot !!!! Stay for the nightlife or massage services, if you've time to spare.


Scenes around Wat Phuttathiwat, a famous temple in Betong. It was raining rather heavily, hence our camwhoring session was cut short. Shucks.



Betong Town - Shopping for dried foods, snacks and such. And the Malay's HALAL restaurant in blue. There is a lane with several commendable Malay restaurants that cater to the Muslims in Betong town. Just opposite the Central Market.

A pleasing array of tong sui (sweet soups), and the one and only, ginkgo nuts soup with lotsa eggs (even quail's!!!)


We skipped the Piyamit Tunnel (very famous communist tunnel to the north of Betong town), and Hot Spring. Since we had visited both attractions before. But for first-timers, highly recommended to visit the tunnel at least ONCE.

The giant mailbox is on Sukkayang Road, to the north of the clock tower in town (trust me, you WON'T miss it). And we shopped for Koh Kae peanuts (those in colourful canisters) in various flavours, at RM11.50 for three. And the fish maws is also a popular purchase here, from RM10-RM30, depending on the quality of the maws. The cashew nuts, tidbits, etc are the other usual buys from Betong.

And the tropical fruits in abundance (Gerik, Perak) - Tis the season to be jolly?


The weather was cooling in Betong, but rather unforgiving, with heavy rains, storms and the likes. Anyway, we were almost done, and retracted back to our homeland, for some durian-bingeing session at Gerik in Perak !!!!

to be continued ..........

21 comments:

Big Boys Oven said...

wow! lovely place away from the city, food looks amazing and yet different! just pure luxury!

D-Tourist said...

Hmmm.. seems like u r making betong part of ur annual pilgrimage :) something interesting in betong.. :P

Precious Pea said...

Ahh...i shall explore this place when I come back for holiday.

Selba said...

Beautiful!

But the weather looks kinda dull, ya?

SimpleGirl said...

Betong, I've not been to this place...heard some uncle told me the food is cheap and nice

J2Kfm said...

BBO : erm, not exactly luxury lah ... it's merely a small town.

D-Tourist : not annual pilgrimage. hehe, not til that extent. and don't get funny ideas woh ... LOL.

Precious pea : when you're coming back? Jan? I doubt you'll have time to travel away from KL!

Selba : yup, it was cloudy that afternoon. unexpectedly.

Simple Girl : i've yet to try the famous curry mee stall, at one junction near Betong Merlin Hotel. maybe next time ...

reanaclaire said...

my goodness..such "temptingsinful" food.. hahahha... i must go la.. never been to betong before though my colleague always ajak me.. from IPOH, i think around 3 hrs journey or less than that..

PureGlutton said...

Such a tempting place to go! Nice thai food there hoh? From yr pic, the tiny fishballs looked good, too bad they didn't make the grade with u!

jason said...

Er... why were you there again? Just for makan!? O_o

thule a.k.a leo said...

betong is a military controlled area.. but everything should be fine if you follow the law there.
Haven't been to any other part of Thailand except for Bangkok and Chiang Mai...

D-Tourist said...

LOL... hard not to conjure up the sinful thoughts when u mentioned u were crossing over to the "Darker/sinful side" :P
.... then again we won't get much good food blog to read if u dun venture out to the unknown... rite
... like a trekkie "To go where no one has gone before" U haf sacrificed a lot to bring us good food / travels

ai wei said...

i heard a lot about betong from relatives. i should followed them over last time. aiks, wasted another opportunity

iamthewitch said...

What's that fruit at the end? Looks like rambutan internally but the external is different. Weird fruit :P

J2Kfm said...

reanaclaire : yeah, more or less 3 hours. rather near, dont you think? :)

Pureglutton : except from the bouncy texture, nothing else made the cut.

jason : yeahlah .... 2 of the gang havent been there ma.

thule : BKK and Chiang Mai are no doubt the main attractions of Thailand, Koh Samui and Phuket as well. but Haadyai, Songkla and Betong are smaller towns, with less glitters, but charming anyways.

D-Tourist: gee, thanks for the compliment. not sacrifices lah ...haha, i was having fun myself, no doubt.

ai wei : it's ok. can always make another round there.

iamthewitch : it tastes exactly like rambutan, but the seed is edible, and tasty; almost like hazelnut. i think it's pulasan, or something like that.

Timothy Low said...

Very adventurous outing. Wish I could take some time off to do this as well. Distance place, foreign food ..... it's just sooooo exciting !

foodbin said...

the night life is even better isn't is?

CUMI & CIKI said...

we blogged this plc too:) nice hor? and to think its so close by!

http://cumidanciki.blogspot.com/search?q=betong

sc said...

hey, you're back there again! looks like lots of food and fun. serious jet setter la you, travelling everywhere..

Nic (KHKL) said...

how they cook the eggs until look liddat ar? reminded me of poached eggs from kin kin..hehe

J2Kfm said...

Timothy Low : aiya, go on a weekend lah! hahaha ... like us.

foodbin : erm, depends on what type of FUN you're referring to. :)

Cumi & Ciki : yeah, amazing it's so near, yet not many knew that Perak has a Thai border.

sc : this job made me can't sit still. LOL. you also just went crazy with your shopping in BKK, right? :)

Nic : erm, picturesque, and sweet some more! not something easily found elsewhere.

worldwindows said...

Floating quail eggs, how novel?