Kuala Medang is where homestay visitors can get an old-fashioned village experience without compromising on modern comforts. Story and pictures by SAGER AHMAD.
VISITING Kuala Medang in central Pahang is almost a walk down memory lane as visitors can see village life as in the old days and how food was prepared traditionally.
Welcomed by villages with the kompang (drum), bunga manggar (floral stick) and sirih junjung (decorated beetle leaf), we were given refreshing young coconuts to drink.
Then we were introduced to our foster families, followed by a short ride in long boats along the wide, fast flowing Jelai River to Kampung Sungai Serau to visit cottage industries there making bertih, emping, jus buah kabong, jeli kelapa, kordial buah salak and dodol. Bertih (parched rice or popped rice) and emping (rice flakes) were made from freshly harvested rice.
We saw the harvesting of rice with a tuai (a special hand-held metal clip with wooden handle) instead of the sabit (sickle).
Tuai in Malay means ‘to harvest’ and the instrument is traditionally favoured over the sickle so as not to anger the padi guardian spirit.
Old women demonstrated husking the rice using a lesung kaki (wooden foot mortar) and winnowing with a dulang (bamboo tray).
Another woman showed how dodol was made. The sweet brown sticky snack was made with glutinous rice flour and sugar and required hours of patient stirring over a slow fire. Jeli kelapa is agar-agar jelly made with young coconut flesh.
From the tall enau palm, villagers harvest the kabong fruit to make sweet drinks. This is usually sold at the Bazaar Ramadan during the fasting month. Salak is another type of palm about two metres tall with scaly-skinned fruit growing in bunches. Before this trip, I was under the impression that salak only came from Indonesia.
In Pahang it is grown as a cash crop. We not only enjoyed eating the slightly sour ripe fruit but we also sampled ice-blended salak cordial. Nice.
We were jolted back to the present in the village where traditional wooden houses had all the modern amenities including electricity, running water, refrigerators and even Astro dishes on the roof!
Kuala Medang is a relatively new settlement consisting of some 200 families. Formerly forest, there is now a small community of farmers there whose income is supplemented by members of their families working in other parts of the country.
The pekas sehari (weekly market) is held where the wreck of a Japanese World War II plane was found three decades ago. It was sold for scrap metal.
Kuala Medang is the second homestay village in Pahang, after Kampung Desa Murni in Temerloh. They have hosted visitors from more than 30 countries.
Our journey started at the train station in Kuala Lumpur. The group comprised people in the travel trade as well as the media visiting Kuala Lipis under the “Moh Melawat Pahang” campaign.
Pahang State chairman for Tourism and Women’s Affair Committee Datuk Maznah Mazlan came along. With an endless supply of food and drinks as well as karaoke, there was never a dull moment on board the train.
Maznah even suggested to KTMB’s inter city services department’s director Sarbini Tijan that train-themed songs be compiled and played on special occasions like this as there were many such songs in various languages.
Article is sourced from http://travel.nst.com.my/
Location, Driving Direction and Map to Kuala Medang