By JOSEPH KAOS JR, SARBAN SINGH, R.S.N. MURALI, YEE XIANG YUN, KATHLEEN ANN KILI and S.S. YOGA
How would you like to travel by rail from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in just 90 minutes?
You might say that a flight to Singapore only takes 45 minutes. But then you have not factored in the time to get to the airport, check in and wait at the gate before departure, and also when you reach Singapore, the time spent on claiming your luggage and so on.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in July between the Malaysian and the Singaporean governments for a 350km high-speed rail (HSR) link between KL and Singapore (Jurong East). Such a link would be most welcomed by people on both sides of the Causeway. If all goes as planned, it is expected to be operational in a decade.
There are six stops on this link between KL and Singapore – Putrajaya; Seremban; Ayer Keroh in Malacca; Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, all in Johor.
If you plan to get off at any of the stops in search of some delicious local food and to visit some attractions, here are our suggestions.
It is the administrative capital of Malaysia, where the government administrative buildings, including the Prime Minister’s Department, are located. There are some architecturally interesting and impressive buildings here, making it a popular place for photo-taking among sightseers and even for wedding photography.
Of the most imposing and distinctive structures here is the Putra Mosque. Located next to Putra Square and on the banks of the scenic Putrajaya lake, and with the Prime Minister’s Department Complex in the background, it is the go-to spot among visitors. The mosque, constructed out of rose-tinted granite, is modelled after the Persian Islamic architecture of the Safavid period.
As it is surrounded by the Putrajaya lake, Putrajaya has several bridges crossing this man-made lake in various locations – nine to be exact. But the more stunning ones are Seri Gemilang, Seri Wawasan and Seri Saujana. Visitors usually make it a point to stop by at least one of them for photos.
Located in Precinct 8, Ayer@8 at the Promenade, Jalan P8G, is the latest popular hangout spot for coffee or dinner in Putrajaya. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and they serve a variety of food, from local Malay food to Western and Middle Eastern cuisines. Most of the shops have a fantastic view of the Putrajaya Lake, too.
Ikan Bakar Seri Empangan
This open-air food court in Precinct 5 (3, Jalan Lebuh Gemilang, Taman Empangan) also boasts a splendid view of a lake, which can be quite spectacular during sunset. Besides their signature grilled ikan bakar, there are many other kinds of seafood dishes available.
The capital of Negri Sembilan, this town used to have a sleepy vibe. However due to its proximity to KL (70km away) it has almost become an extended suburb of it. Many stay in Seremban and commute to places in the Klang Valley for work. As a result, it has awakened from its slumber, and the town is bustling these days.
Labu, located some 15km from central Seremban, is proposed to be the location for the HSR stop. The state authorities are also asking for a connecting rail route to be built from there to the KL International Airport and KLIA2.
Also known as the Then Tze Khoon, this colourful 153-year-old Taoist temple is perched atop a rocky hill known as Bukit Jung along Jalan Temiang. To get to the top, one needs to walk up a flight of 264 steps. However, visitors can also drive all the way to the top from where they can enjoy a panoramic view of Seremban. Although this is a Taoist temple, there are also colourful and embellished sculptures of Buddha, Guan Yin the Goddess of Mercy and Yue Lao the God of Marriage. There are also statues of the monk Xuanzang and his three disciples, the Monkey God, as well as the Eight Immortals of the Taoist legend.
Ulu Bendul Recreational Park
The park (20km from town), located in the Angsi Forest Reserve is a popular destination for families looking for a splashing time. Cool and refreshing mountain water flows through the park from Gunung Angsi located upstream, favoured by hiking aficionados. Those not wishing to stay in the reasonably priced chalets here can opt to camp out in the open. There is also an observation tower for bird-watching enthusiasts. Also located here is a Python Park where one can see and touch many species of the snake.
Located about 30 minutes’ drive from Seremban, PD has cleaned up its act and the beaches are pretty decent these days. The resort town is also home to the Armed Forces Museum as well as the Kota Lukut Fort and Museum as well as the Tanjung Tuan light house.
Top Curry House
Located at 15&19 Jalan Dato’ Abdul Rahman, this restaurant has been serving spicy South Indian fare and Andhra-style dishes for over two decades. Its banana-leaf rice is arguably the best in town.
Diners can order these side dishes – delicious chicken perattal (dry chicken curry) and fragrant fish head curry – to go with their banana leaf rice that is accompanied by a free flow of vegetable dishes and sambar (lentil curry).
Yi Poh Restaurant
Many claim that the best wan tan mee and lou shi fun in town are served here. It is located at 26 Jalan Seng Meng Lee. Although the restaurant has been serving many other mee-based dishes for several decades, the two certainly stand out as its signature dishes. The wan tan mee comes with neatly sliced char siew and wan tan made of delicious soft minced pork served in peppery soup and served with red chilli paste.
The same soup is also served for those having lou shi fun served in soy sauce.