Friday, October 21, 2016

Kuala Medang - the Ikea of Pahang!

What does Kuala Medang have in common with meatballs? Read on to find out ..

In the spirit of looking for "something out of nothing", we randomly chose Kuala Medang out of a hat. As coincidence would have it, we are also well acquainted with a gentleman who hails from Sungai Koyan : the closest civilisation to Kuala Medang. Having grown up there since a child, we asked him what's in Medang? To which he replied, "why would you even consider going to that dead place?" Thus evaporated what little hope we had for this town.

This little hamlet is located 50km west of Kuala Lipis or 60km north of Raub (approximately 170kms if you are coming from Kuala Lumpur). The only way here is to pass through Sungai Koyan. This satellite town is where - if you take a left you ascend to Ringlet (mind you - this is an absolutely beautiful piece of road where for some brief moments you are led to believe you are driving up some distant European mountains during summer)  - or take right and lalu jalan kelapa sawit and head towards Kuala Lipis.

Like most of the population, not everyone will follow the path of the straight and narrow where Kuala Medang lies :  straight past Sg Koyan. It being a cul-de-sac with no through roads to anywhere else, you can be forgiven to label it as a dead end town. Who goes to dead end places anyway? Folks from Sweden apparently!

The Swedes love Kuala Medang they way they love meatballs 
Clockwise from right : Sg Koyan Mosque, MSM Vancation Mobile, suspension bridge at POS Pantos and durians which are  flat-rate RM2.50 a piece.
What's here?
  • Durians (when in season) and other local fruits
  • Madu kelulut (a type of honey) 
  • Sambal hitam
  • Crystal clear peaceful river (if you can find it -which you will in our map :)) 
  • Lovely MTB riding opportunities here : from tiny village roads, to fire roads to logging tracks of undulating elevation. And riding up towards POS Pantos will provide a challenge for the weekend warrior riders.
  • Raw yellow noodles and bunch of other small cottage industries. 
  • Cool settings amidst scenic country-side, resting at the foothills of the mountain range
  • And if you're in a big group, the locals can arrange for your pleasure : bamboo rafting activities, top spinning and mengemping (process of making rice flakes) - amongst others. I confess that I myself have not witnessed top spinning since I was a boy! 
And it is these stuffs which brings multiple families all the way from Sweden : twice a year, every year since forever! And most of us Malaysians, don't even know or heard of the place until .. um  .... 2016! Such a shame.

POS Pantos
Kuala Medang is fringed by small villages, Kg. Serau and POS Pantos orang asli settlement and further sliced by, as far as we can tell : 3 rivers : Sungai Jelai, Sungai Telom and Sungai Jelai Kecil.

The two big rivers serve as the main artery for the orang asli settlers to boat upstream to their fruit plantations far into the hinterland. And if you visit during the right season ..  you will find the locals will boat downstream and bring down their bounty of durians!

Our Government built concrete houses with electricity and water for the orang asli. But they will, invariably build their wooden hut next to it. Folklore has it, many will fall sick and die living in these brick homes. The reality however is far from it : they do it mostly because they need soil flooring to do their wood-fire cooking - something they can't do in their concrete homes without burning a hole through the ceiling. Based on a barter economy system, they also rely almost exclusively on their crops for income. So when times are tough, they can't afford to purchase cooking gas - they resort to wood fires as how their ancestors have done for generations before this.

Pos Pantos as viewed from a ridge
Typical DIY home extension project 

Gimme them durians already!! Orang asli settlers bringing fruits from their orchards upstream.

Unfortunately it is sufficiently off the beaten path that not many would venture here - which - fortunately means, Kuala Medang is still very much tourist free : and free from all the rubbish and large crowds that come with it.

Also when the durians are flat-rate RM2.50 per piece and you have rivers like this to bathe in whilst watching the durian seeds float away .. this is a tranquil piece of real estate worthy of its price of admission.

At the same time you can do a bit of charity (and some soul searching for our ipad generation children) by spending time with the orang asli at Pos Pantos. This is meatball country as far as the Swedes are concerned, so it's no wonder their make their bi-annual sojourn here far far away from Kuala Lumpur to stay and live with the locals at the many many homestays here. For them, it is an experience like nothing they can find at home - so where does that put us where home is already here in our own backyard which we do not even know to exist? Hmm ..
Peaceful and priceless

Places to Stay

  • Homestays (plenty to choose from) starts from RM60 per pax inclusive of 3 meals per day cooked by your homestay host. Contact : 013 961 0800
  • the only riverside chalet (RM180 per chalet @ Oct 2016 prices  : a bit pricey in our estimation) - no contact available but look for the caretaker living across the road on a hill.
  • cabin stay (RM80 per cabin @ Oct 2016 prices - a fair deal especially for the cabins located near Sungai Jelai Kecil) Contact : 012 325 5391 and 
  • camping (RM10 per head) - with electricity, fresh water, toilet support and a beautiful river.  Contact : 012 963 9065
Camping for the win!

Homestays, cabins and the only chalet in town!


.. you so happen do come this way - do consider bringing along used but still good to wear clothes : stick to T-shirts, shorts, jackets, pants. Leave behind dresses, baju kurungs, skirts which they have no need (nor the occasion for). Orang asli are dimunitive in size generally - so we're talking sizes XS to M. Unwanted toys are also much welcomed by the POS Pantos community. There are plenty of children here so a packet of Maggi or Mamee for each of them is like gold for them.


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