Driven: Sungai Koyan to Cameron Highlands

View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory
View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory

Here is the next chapter of my “Driven” series as I go around the country finding places to drive to and enjoy the roads of Malaysia. This time around we decided on a day trip to Cameron Highlands via the Sungai Koyan route. We chose this route because of it’s amazing sceneries, smooth and wide roads as well as fantastic winding routes which allow drivers like our group to enjoy the fun and the thrill of the drive. It’s definitely a way better route up to Camerons compared to the usual Tapah route in my opinion.

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The meet up point was the BHP petrol station just after the Karak Highway toll plaza. We had to stopover again at the Petronas petrol station at Genting Sempah thanks to our government who decided to lower the price of fuel on the 1st of February which caused a number of the petrol stations to run out of fuel as everyone went at midnight to refill their cars. Getting Ron97 for the petrol cars was no easy feat at all.

The real first stop was to try out the amazing “wantan mee” at the town of Bentong. Unfortunately because it was a Sunday, Bentong was packed thanks to the early morning market. So if you are ever around that area, do try to avoid the main town centre.

Finally arriving at Bentong for Breakfast
Finally arriving at Bentong for Breakfast

Getting a parking spot wasn’t easy but the food there was definitely worth it. Bentong is a town which is famous for it’s ginger as well as pineapples and along the roads you would find intimate spots of stalls selling these produces.

View at Bentong
View at Bentong

Arriving at Bentong early in the morning meant that the morning sun is splashed across the landscape, bathing the view in beautiful warm light. Being a small town, it still has a quaint touch and interesting sights as you walk around.

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After a hearty breakfast, we set out towards the mountainous regions of Pahang and I was completely amazed by not just the scenery but also the drive. The group had such an amazing drive up towards the Bertam Valley through Sungai Koyan.

It started off with an uphill stage where the route was a little winding but traffic was completely clear. This allowed us to fully flex our car’s muscle and enjoy the thrill of the drive and thoroughly enjoy how our cars behave around the bends.

Catching up with the fast M5 as well as the Scirocco R, my little E90 320d had quite a tough time keeping up with the group. Initially when the road had an incline going uphill, my torquey car had some advantage but as the roads widen and became straighter, the top end power of the M5 and the VW cars started to shine. It took me all of my ability to keep up with them.

There were some parts of the road which were filled with undulations but it was thanks to my friend who thought me to actually use these undulations to your advantage such as angling your car in order to gain more speed around the corners. We were definitely hitting speeds that one wouldn’t normally hit at the city centre. My adrenaline was pumping through my veins and I was glad that I stiffened up my suspension for the drive.

Stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and fresh air
Stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and fresh air

The feeling you get when you catch that grip around the corner along the smooth roads is just amazing. It wasn’t too short as well because after the first stage, I was having a little bit of trouble with my tyres finding grip. I guess that was the price to pay especially after pushing my tyres quite hard through the corners and bend.

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We stopped by along the route to enjoy the cool breeze and the view as well as allow our cars to cool down a bit before heading off for the second stage. The group took this opportunity to take a couple of photos as well as replenish our fluid intake.

The second stage was just as fantastic and equally exciting as the roads became wider and the route was less of a hill climb but consisted of winding roads and straight stretches. This meant we could increase our pace for this stage and have a little bit more fun on the road. What amazed me was how clear the roads were, how wide the roads are and how quick we managed to arrive at our destination. Definitely a lot better than the route through Tapah.

These two stages were definitely the highlight of the trip and it doesn’t matter what sort of vehicle you drive or how fast you drive, you will truly enjoy the journey. As they say, life is always about the journey and not the destination, in this context, the drive to Camerons was truly about the drive and not the destination.

Lunch time at Cameron Highlands, first time having curry steamboat
Lunch time at Cameron Highlands, first time having curry steamboat

By lunch time we were already up at Tapah, Cameron Highlands where we had curry steamboat which was rather unique and equally delicious. Normally what we would get back in KL would be the standard clear soup or “tom yam” soup. Having a curry base soup did enhance the flavour a lot and it was a pleasant surprise.

The steamboat was heated up by charcoal, sticking to traditional means instead of the more convenient gas stove. What normally makes steamboat good is the quality of the base soup and the freshness of the ingredients. For this case, the shop managed to nail both of it and being in Cameron Highlands definitely helps where fresh vegetables are in abundance there.

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After lunch we headed up to enjoy a little bit of tea and scones at the original BOH Tea Centre. We decided against going to the newer one as it is normally packed with tourists. Upon arrival we were greeted with beautiful sceneries or tea plantations all around us.

View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory
View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory

Whilst sipping on tea and enjoying a bit of pastries, we took in the fresh air and just had a great time chatting. I took the opportunity as well to walk around and capture some photos.

After tea time, I had to head back to KL for a dinner appointment and took the Tapah route down towards the North South Highway. After driving through that route, I came to realise that driving through Sungai Koyan was a much better route and it was a lot more enjoyable, not just for drivers but even for my passengers as well.

I will definitely use the same route up Cameron Highlands again the next time around.

 

 

Driven: Kuala Kelawang

A couple of months back, I organised a drive together with a bunch of my driving buddies through the routes of Kuala Kelawang. We have been on many drives but we never did manage to try out the old road towards Kuala Kelawang. The old road is still a popular road amongst driving enthusiasts, car clubs as well as cyclists. The moment, I posted the message online, a steady group was formed and we set a date.

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The plan was to meet up early on a Sunday morning at the Shell petrol station at Batu 9, along the Cheras-Kajang expressway. I arrived there a little earlier in order for me to set up my coilovers as well as check the tyre pressure on all 4 tyres prior to the journey. Within the next 10 minutes, the entire party has arrived, we were greeted with beautiful blue skies and bright sun light. This meant the roads were going to be nice and dry.

From the station I led the pack towards Hulu Langat town before turning off using route N32. Our first destination was to hit the small town of Titi where a breakfast stop was in order. Getting there would take a bit of time because the journey was the most anticipated one, which was to drive through route N32.

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Leading the pack, I drove with a walkie in hand whilst trying to manoeuvre through the bends. A walkie was needed because the route was also used by cyclists. In order for the group to also enjoy a little bit of a thrilling drive, its good to know from the first car if there were any obstacles as well as cyclists coming from the opposite direction.

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A problem started to appear as I struggled to hold on to the walkie-talkie. Each turn was getting sharper, which meant I needed to use both my hands to steer the car. It was a good thing that my wife was there, as I handed her the walkie to communicate with the rest of the group, I steered the car through the bends whilst I felt each bit of my tyres gripping unto the tarmac.

The smell of my brakes permeated through the slightly opened windows as I pushed them hard, remembering the knowledge I learned through the various driver trainings as well as on the track. Just feeling the car ease into the corner, without ever the hint of understeer feels great, it was as if the car became an extension of my body.

A near perfect mixture of twists and turns, uphills and downhills makes the whole journey worth it. The thrill of the speed as well as cool air, makes all worries and stress seem to fade away. What better way to spend your Sunday morning.

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As a group we normally tried to maintain a no overtaking policy unless we allowed so, but the route wasn’t completely clear of drivers who drive slowly and hog the roads. There was a particular car which just didn’t want to give any way. He drove as if he owned the roads but sticking close at the middle of the road. It was difficult to predict if there were oncoming traffic especially there were numerous blind spots.

The moment the road cleared up, the group roared past him and our drive could continue on until we arrived near the town of Titi. As I started seeing houses and schools, I brought the car down to a slower pace in order for the entire group to catch up and at the same time let the engines cool down a bit.

Upon arrival at Titi town, we headed to one of the more well-known coffeeshops, Woon Yi, to have breakfast before pushing off towards Jeram Toi waterfalls. Getting a seat at the coffeeshop wasn’t easy as we took up 3 large tables and the place was packed with sweaty cyclists who made the town of Titi into a pitstop.

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A bunch of us also found through the wonders of Google about a place which sold cakes in Titi but after walking around the town, I was disappointed that the shop was closed. Oh well, it probably gave me an excuse to head back to Titi again.

After a semi light breakfast, headed off towards Jeram Toi water falls where we thought it would be a great place to cool off and snap some pictures. The route between the town of Titi to Jeram Toi was a little less exciting but driving with a group of friends is always fun, especially when you have walkie talkies and you hear the jokes coming through the frequencies.

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Unfortunately by the time we arrived there, we were greeted with a signage which stated that the waterfall was closed for renovations. Still, unfettered by the closure of the waterfall, I brought the boys out towards the LEKAS (Kajang-Seremban) highway, where the roads are nice, straight and clear for them to let their engines roar a little bit.

The journey was fantastic and we ended off at Kajang at Restaurant Malaysia, enjoying the ever popular Kajang Satay before calling it a day and heading home.

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One of the joys of embarking on short excursions like this is that I managed to see a side of Malaysia which I haven’t really been paying attention to. My hometown is in Malacca and most of the time I would just take the highways down south and bypass the small little towns that used to be a network connecting the larger states.

Which gave me an idea, back when I was a kid, my dad used to use the old roads back to Malacca. Perhaps one day, I shall be plotting my route through the coastal roads as well.

Here is the full complete route which we took for your future reference.

Drive Summary:

Kuala Kelawang Drive Summary
Section Comment
Route Difficulty 3/5
Family Suitability Yes
Scenery 3/5

Check out some of the photos I shot during the trip below.

 

Driven: The Cliffs of Moher

The Doolough Valley
The Doolough Valley

This is a new start of my driving series where I will share experiences of driving around Malaysia as well as around the world where people travel just to enjoy the fun and thrill of the drive, the food and of course the scenery. The car is secondary but it doesn’t hurt if you have an amazing car to give it that extra bit of fun.

My plan is to commit my weekends to driving, anywhere around Malaysia and hopefully as I go bolder and bolder, the journey and drives get a little more exciting and unique as well.

If you are looking for an area to drive especially if you are in the UK, why not check out Ireland. Read some of the experiences folks have had driving in Ireland.

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Driving along Ireland’s coasts.

There is no better way to experience the beautiful country of Ireland than to rent a car and drive along its world-famous coastlines. You are in for a stunning parade of inspirational landscapes and charming coastal towns.

From the lively and colourful streets of Dublin to the unique atmosphere of places such as Cork, where traditional local culture blends in with modernity within the settings of a youthful industry town, there is so much to discover.

However, the real star of a driving trip throughout the country is definitely the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful sights such as the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

These are amongst the most inspiring and characteristic coastal scenarios in Europe, and it was the most memorable stop of my trip. Another major highlight of the adventure was the opportunity to meet a lot of people: the hospitality, kindness and friendliness of Irish people is legendary, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed: Whether dealing with friendly staff or drinking a pint with some new people at a pub, it was instantly easy to share a smile and feel comfortable!

- Jack

Making it even better

The feeling of driving is completely different especially when you are on holiday, it is as if all stress and problems fade away as you enjoy amazing scenery and enjoy the local cuisines. It gives you the sense of freedom because you aren’t bound by any schedules or other people holding you up.

I love driving and if there is a chance to drive to a location, I would do so.

Image Source: Wallpaperswide.com , Atlascarhire.com