Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Weekend Getaway to Tanjung Balai - Day 1
Took a 1.5 hour ferry ride to Pulau Tanjung Balai (37 km south-west of Singapore) for a short trip with a friend. We stayed at a local hotel near the ferry terminal. Our simple room comes with a double bed and a single bed, cost S$25 including breakfast.
Our first meal after checking in was pork rib soup (bak kut teh) with offals at a local coffee shop. I ordered a pork rib noodle soup which was quite yummy. The meal for four with drinks cost S$20.
We went on a tour of the neighbourhood where our hotel was located. Our friend who is a regular visitor to the island, introduced us to many of his local friends who welcomed us warmly.
Glad to discover that these new friends are Teochews and we could communicate in Teochew to the locals to get around the place.
Two hours later, we went back to the hotel's tiny cafe for chilled drinks and called for delivery of lunch which were stir fried wild boar with ginger and fish lips cooked in a spicy, sour gravy. Oh my, the gelatinous fish lips was so tender.... tastes better than sea cucumber. That was a fabulous lunch. *burp*
After a short rest in our rooms, we set off to the mountains in a hired car to find the waterfall - Air Terjun Pongkar @ Gunung Jantan. It was a good 40 minutes car ride from our hotel and another 45 minutes hike up a steep and overgrown, neglected trail to the (disappointing) waterfall. No way we were taking a dip in the polluted pool.
There were steps leading to the peak of the mountain but we decided to forego the climb as the railings were rusty. We took some photos and descended.
Got into our car and ended at the quiet Pongkar beach. Several kampung chickens and a stray cat kept us company while we enjoyed the clear blue sky and windy breeze, snacking on kueh lapis and delicious fish crackers.
Three children came by on their motorcycles. The two cyclists looked no more than 12. Public transport is limited, the locals travel by motorcycles.
We returned to the hotel for a nap before dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, Fuji Seafood Restaurant.
The fried bee hoon by the elderly mother of the restaurant's boss was impressive. The locally manufactured bee hoon was smooth and springy. The three of us finished that basin of fried bee hoon!
The 1.5 kg crunchy shrimps were bought fresh off a fishing boat around three o'clock that afternoon. I could eat the shells as well. The hot plate deer meat is a rare dish. The meat of the Sumatran wild deer was imported.
The restaurant was not crowded, so the boss and his widowed mother kept us company as we ate. We listened to the stories of their struggles and hardship in Indonesia and how they built up their business. The boss introduced his family members to us. He spoke proudly of his eldest son who is studying in a university in Surabaya.
He even showed us his private collection of bonsai which he created. He used to display them in his restaurant until people climbed over his fence in the middle of the night to steal his treasured creations. I was awed by two mango trees in his garden which have braided trunks..... his artwork. haha.... the burly, tough guy is so talented.
I don't know how much the dinner cost because my friend paid for it. It was a wonderful dinner.
We returned to the hotel and spent some time chit-chatting and drinking with the locals before retiring to our rooms.