An Afternoon at Klebang Beach
As part of the Unesco Heritage Sites, the ‘Historic Cities of the Straits of Melaka’ needs no introduction. Many Malaysians are repeat visitors to this fascinating site. But today my friends and I decided to explore the area outside of the historic perimeter, to be precise, its coastal area.
Over the last couple of years, Klebang Beach (or Pantai Klebang, to the locals), a 15-minute drive out of Melaka City, has become viral because of these two things – food and sand dunes. These were the main reasons we made the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Pantai Klebang all the way from Kuala Lumpur, one fine afternoon. (Note: from Kuala Lumpur, drive southwards on the North-South Highway before taking the Ayer Keroh toll exit at which you can expect to pay RM12.90).
Upon hitting Melaka, we then decided to have our lunch at this newly-opened three-star hotel called MITC Hotel in Ayer Keroh because we had heard their claypot fish head curry was to-die-for. The curry was definitely delicious coupled with ulam (local salads) and stir fried spicy clams, making for a very satisfying lunch.
With our stomachs full, we headed straight to Pantai Klebang for a little bit of exploration and to shed the calories we had just consumed. Our first stop, the Submarine Museum.
The Quessant Agosta 70 FS, with a carrying capacity of 41 passengers, was previously used to train Malaysia’s submarine crew from 2005 to 2009 following the acquisition of two submarines by the Ministry of Defence, Malaysia. Today, it has been turned into a museum, allowing visitors to go on board to experience what life is like in a sub.
I already had an idea that the inside of a submarine would be small but I didn’t realise just how narrow or cramped it would be, making me feel almost claustrophobic. The strong smell of diesel still lingered in the air at the front of the submarine where four tornadoes used to be.
My respect towards the training crew peaked after I saw how tiny the captain’s quarters was, not to mention the alley, the galley (kitchen) and the bathroom. To think that they had to spend 9,000 training hours — the equivalent of four years — underwater inside that vessel, was just beyond my belief.
My advise is to visit this museum during weekdays or at low-season. Due to the confined space within the submarine, it will be a little difficult to maneuver yourself in a crowd.
If the guide is not available, you can read about the history of FS Quessant at the information gallery provided by the museum within the compound.
The Submarine Museum is located at Dataran 1Malaysia, Klebang, Malacca. Its GPS coordinate is N 2.213988, E 102.198461 and it is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Visitors pay an entrance fee of RM5.00 while children below 12 are charged RM3.00.
For more information on the submarine museum,
please contact Perbadanan Muzium Melaka at +606 – 282 6526,
or visit the website at http://www.perzim.gov.my or facebook page at https://ms-my.facebook.com/MelakaMuseum.
There are three local desserts that have gone viral over the last couple of years and all of them are located at Pantai Klebang. After the visit to the museum, we drove around the Limbongan and Klebang Kecil area to search for them.
Kuih Keria Antarabangsa Hj. Jalil
Kuih keria is a Malaysian-style glazed sugar doughnut that is made from sweet potatoes. The shop that sells this kuih keria is so famous that people do not mind the long queues to get a taste of the sweet and fluffy snack, which is perfect for an afternoon tea, or any time of the day, actually.
The owner, Mr. Jalil Tompang, 74, says he uses around 150 kg of sweet potatoes per day to make about 1,000 pieces of his super delicious kuih keria. He personally prepares the ingredients and fries the doughnuts himself. Our verdict? We just couldn’t get enough of his kuih keria. Bear in mind that it is best eaten hot. One kuih keria will cost you 50 cents and the maximum you can buy is 20 pieces.
Putu Piring Generasi Ketiga
The putu piring is a traditional dessert made of ground rice flour filled at the centre with gula melaka or palm sugar, and then gently steamed in metal conical moulds. The stall selling this famous putu piring by the roadside at Kompleks Niaga Limbongan is manned by Hajah Zalika Lajis, 65, and assisted by her daughter Fazilah Mohamad, 36. According to Hajah Zalika, her mother started the business in 1969 at almost the exact same spot. The only difference is that there used to be a beach where a row of shophouses now stands behind her stall.
Now that her daughter is also involved in the business, she has named the stall as “Putu Piring Generasi Ketiga” or The Third Generation Putu Piring. What is so special about their putu piring is that the rice flour is homemade and not store-bought in packets. Yes, I can see why these pillowy puffs have such a following. At first bite, the putu piring tastes soft and moist, while the melted palm sugar oozing out tastes caramelly delicious.
The putu piring here comes in original, durian and chocolate flavours. Each is presented with a sprinkling of freshly grated coconut tinged with some salt on the side, served on a square of banana leaf, which naturally fragrances the dessert. The original flavour is priced at RM3 for five pieces while the other two flavours are priced at RM4 for five pieces.
Klebang Original Coconut Shakes
We must thank Mr. Shafie Ahmad, 55, from Klebang Kecil because, if not for his ingenuity, we would never have guessed that coconuts and vanilla ice cream go really well together! He created this coconut shake about 10 years ago by blending the white coconut flesh with sugar syrup, ice cubes and vanilla ice cream and topped it off with another scoop of vanilla ice cream. The coconut shake has now become a must-try whenever one makes a visit to Melaka.
It was late afternoon when we reached his restaurant and from the crowd gathering there, it looked like Mr. Shafie’s coconut shakes were very popular among locals and tourists alike. Various food and traditional kuih (desserts) at the restaurant are provided by the locals as he only sells coconut shakes. The restaurant operates from 11 am until 6.30 pm every day. He still maintains his old stall by the roadside for those wanting to buy a take-away coconut shake. Our verdict was the coconut shakes tasted yummy and creamy, perfect for such a hot and humid weather. Expect to pay RM3.50 per shake.
Pantai Klebang Beachfront
We decided to enjoy our desserts at the beach while waiting for the sun to set. By evening, Pantai Klebang is full of activity, filled with people playing kites, kids blowing and chasing bubbles, as well as horses carrying people back and forth. There were many food stalls there, too. Unlike other beaches, it is not advisable to swim at Pantai Klebang, but it was still an ideal place for a family picnic, though.
Pantai Klebang Sand Dunes
Here was the tricky part of the trip. The sand dunes at Pantai Klebang had gone viral for several years now but it was one of those off-the-beaten path attractions that required some navigational skills to find. Still, it attracts photographers, be it amateur or professional, who claim that this place is perfect for outdoor wedding and high fashion photography shoots.
Be prepared to walk several kilometres in or about 20 minutes on sandy terrain to reach the sand dunes. The scenery is worth every difficult step, though, especially when the sun started going down into the horizon, painting the sky with a myriad of colours from yellow to orange to red and purple before going totally dark. The changing colours of the sky also transformed the colours of the sand dunes making it look like we were on another planet. This place is definitely Instagram-worthy and has potential as a film location for movies. It has also become an increasingly popular destination for sandboarding, which is another type of high adrenaline sport.
In reality, the hills of sands which was a result of a land reclamation project in the Klebang area was a perfect mimic of the desert. It is located between Pantai Klebang Melaka and the Submarine Museum. However, there is no signboard and you have to enter at your own risk.
While you are in Pantai Klebang, why don’t you give it a try. I promise that it is one of the best places to see the sun set. And I’ll bet that it is also the best place to do a little stargazing, but only if you dare to stay at the place after dark.
After that long walk and all the climbing that we did at the sand dunes, it was time to get back the energy by having an authentic Peranakan (Nyonya) dish at the Seafarer Restaurant nearby. The food here is a fusion of seafood and Nonya-style cooking, with a hint of Chinese and Malay culinary influences. We had a nyonya-style asam pedas fish (fish cooked in a gravy of chillies and tamarind broth, thus it is both spicy and sour), sambal beancurds and hot plate tofu with white rice for dinner. Everything was delicious and combined with the restaurant’s ambience, it was a must-try restaurant. We actually took our dinner al-fresco by the beach, which was why this restaurant was so cool. It was lively and gave you that “live by the beach” vibe.
All in all, it was a well-spent day with friends at Pantai Klebang.