Our Trip Down Memory Lane: Malaysia’s Wonderful North

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Cikgu Karen: KaiLynn Tan

Hi! I’m Karen. I live in Teluk Intan, a peaceful and historic town in the state of Perak, Malaysia.

I teach English Language to elementary school students here. I like to spend my free time travelling and sampling food along the trips. It’s a lot of fun and I still believe in “live to eat”. 


Planning Our Trip

It has been years since my mom pleaded – occasionally nagged  for us to do a road trip to visit the place I went to when I first left home to further my studies. I was sent to do my  Teacher Training in Kangar, Perlis. Yup! It’s one of our states that is about 380km away from my home in Teluk Intan. I had to travel for about 9 to 11 hours by bus, but that was 15 years ago.

Finally, our day had come and my mom’s wishes were about to be fulfilled. No more nagging just wonderful memories and new ones too, I hoped.

I booked hotels, way back in April, worked out places to eat and particular visit are all checked and saved into Waze, sat-nav. Ok, let’s go!

Map of trip

Day 1: Teluk Intan → Ipoh → Butterworth

The trip started pleasantly indeed, The weather was fine and traffic was smooth. It was quite a long journey and since I’m the only one driving throughout the trip, mom suggested that we have good breaks in  the journey. First, we drove to Ipoh for some snacks, then we would stay a night in Butterworth to get enough rest before starting off again the next day.

As with all Malaysians first things first, and this stop was for food. We ate the famous Wong Kee Taufu Fah(Chinese soya custard with a choice of ginger or brown sugar syrup). The stall is right outside the 7 Eleven at Bercham Food Street. Just to make sure we weren’t hungry along the way we also ordered a set of BBQ’d tofu.

We decided to stay at De’Garden Hotel, Butterworth. Later that night, we had dinner at the Raja Uda Food Courtwhich is about 2km away. We had chee cheong fun (steamed rice rolls), char kuey teow (fried thick noodles), lor bak(fried sausage roll of pork and prawn) and noodles soup.

On Our Way!

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Day 2: Butterworth→ Kangar →Padang Besar →Kuala Perlis

The next morning, we woke up – not too early, as we had decided it would be a free and easy trip – we were supposed to relax and take our time, right?

We headed towards Chaw Choon Dim Sum Restaurant, Butterworth, and had a hearty breakfast. Mom was surprised that they served veggies here which is very rare in a Dim Sum restaurant. Another unusual practice was the way the dim sum was served. Normally the food would be presented to us and we pointed to what we wanted. The waiter jotted the order down on his pad which would be given to the cashier for when you had finished. However, in this restaurant we found it was a self-service basis. We had to go to the food counter, collect a a tray and take the food that you wanted and then return to your table.  However, the food was so great we didn’t mind at all.

Once we’d eaten a great breakfast we were ready to head up to Perlis. As the journey took longer than we’d expected, when we arrived in Kangar we were hungry and needed to quickly find food. We should have exited at Alor Setar toll but took the Jitra exit instead – thanks to Waze! Anyway, when we finally arrived we went to find the food stalls that I had always eaten at when I studied there. I found that the stalls were still there but wasn’t  too sure of who the the owners were now. We ordered regular curry noodles for mom and rice for me. The Pat Pou Tea is a common drink here instead of the regular Liong Sui (herbal tea). It looks dark green and tastes sweet.

After lunch, we did a tour of the town. The bus station was still there. The place where they had their morning market was the same. Only the old shopping place seemed to given way to a more modern, Ten Ten shopping complex now. Finally we checked into the Putra Regency Hotel (previously known as the Putra Palace).


Putra Regency Hotel

Once we’d checked in and sorted our bags, we headed back to the car to drive over to Padang Besar which is well known for shopping. There are many household type goods sold here as well as clothing, food, kitchen utensils, toys and much more.

People, especially ladies, would come here to buy pots, pans and steamers. Just like me! I bought 2 steamers from the first stall at the main building (Arked Niaga). It was a small stall that was full of pots and pans. The common Thai brands that are sold here tend to be the cap buaya (crocodile) and the cap payung (umbrella). The owner was a lady who was helped by her son and an elder lady, whom I assumed was her mother and seemed to be the money keeper!

Later, we ventured further and went on to Kuala Perlis which is about 56km north and renowned for it’s amazing seafood.  Here we found Mona Ikan Bakar. We ordered Tom Yum with prawns and squids, stingray with sambal, grilled cockles and crab. The stall prepared us very generous portions of sambal belacan, air asam and curry. The food was nice even though we thought the tom yum was a bit sweet. Both mom and I agreed that the stingray with sambal totally topped the all the rest. It was so delicious!


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On our way back to the hotel, we finally made our way to the college where I had trained to become a teacher all those years ago. In fact this really was the main destination for the trip. And here we were revisiting my old college!

We had arrived at Maktab Perguruan Perlis, Perlis (M3P), now known as the Institut Perguruan Kampus, Perlis.

Day 3: Kangar –Gua Kelam – Taman Ular

The next day in Kangar we visited Gua Kelam, lime stone caves, approximately 370m long. Near the entrance of the cave was a stream where lots of  people were having picnics. Parking was free but entry costs MYR1 per person.

A pictures speaks a thousand words!

Gua Kelam & Taman Ular

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After the visit to Gua Kelam, we went on to Taman Ular which is in need a lot of repair. There were snakes in the exhibition room but not too many.

We  decided on the Embassy Coffee Shop for lunch in town. We ordered the famous chicken and lor bak with rice. We bought two buns as recommended by the owner of the stall that sells Seremban Siu Pao at the front of the restaurant. He also recommended the pineapple and meat buns. They are quite tasty and fit perfectly for our supper.

We explored the town a bit as the sky began to get very dark. I told mom that she was very lucky being able to experience the storm in Kangar. We hurried back to the hotel and sure enough, the skies opened and there was a heavy down pour of tropical rain. The wind was so strong that we could hear it whizzing outside the windows. Mom was intrigued!


For dinner, mom decided on the spot that she fancied some western food. After a few searches on the internet, we decided to go to Blackwood Coffee and Chocolate Restaurant. Indeed, we were fascinated. The food was superb! Ambience was captivating as there were many collections of hats, caps, cola bottles and cans, dream catchers, superhero figurines and many more items that belonged to the royals, displayed in every corner of the restaurant.

Blackwood Coffee & Chocolate Restaurant

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Day 4: Kangar → Kek Lok Si → George Town

After a good night sleep and a great breakfast we hit the road and began to make our way to the next state, Penang.

Our next food station was supposed to be the Sister’s Curry Noodles in Air Itam. Too bad! By the time we got there, they had sold out! So we were forced to try out the food stalls nearby and ended up with the Famous Laksa Bisu (Mute Laksa). It is called ‘mute’ because the owner is unable to speak and hear. You place your order with his sister who helps around the stall.

As usual, travelling in pairs or smaller groups during peak hours has an advantage because it’s easier to get seats. We grabbed the first available table and ordered 2 bowls of laksa, ais kacang (literally bean ice – shaved iced topped with red beans, syrup, nuts etc, taste sweet) and popiah (spring roll with vegetables). Mom still prefers the laksa tepi longkang (laksa beside the drain) which is just across the food court due to the fragrant of the chopped bunga kantan (a pink flower used in laksa). Then, we found our favourite stall selling Muah Chee (gooey rice dough coated with sesame and crushed peanuts) outside Sheng Sheng Heong (成成香 – the shop that sells local products next to RHB Bank). This particular man also sells outside Gurney Plaza at night.

Kangar - Kek Lok Si -Georgetown

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On we went to visit Kek Lok Si (The Pagoda). The renovation is still very much underway. There is a sky lift to take you to the top, for a fee! Therefore, we chose to walk up to the main altar. It was very tiring as you have to go uphill, up  steps, uphill again, and up the steps again. But, we did it! Bravo, Mom!

Once done and down again, we located our hotel and checked into Cititel Express, Penang.  It has much smaller rooms that our other hotels, but its location is great for shopping and of course, restaurants.


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For dinner, we ventured out to Kimberly Food Street. There was a variety of food to be chosen. We tried the Si Ko Teng, a type of dessert, fried fu juk (bean curd skin) with loh bak (again), big rice noodles with soup and kueh chap (thick rice noodles with duck meat in herbal soup).

Day 5: George Town Food Search    


Here we are at Lebuh Noordin, opposite Cititel Express, Penang. 

My lovely star remained intact, mom’s collapsed!


En-route to Cha Kuey Teow because Spicy Lemak Restaurant had a day off! We ate duck egg, laksa, sugar cane juice and lobak with tofu.



Fish Noodles – each bowl cooked to perfection, paired with iced nutmeg juice yummy.

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Day 6: George Town – Teluk Intan

The last day of our Journey to the North. Now we need a hearty breakfast!

We went to two shops for breakfast because the one we really wanted to go to wasn’t yet open. We were just too early.

The famous Teo Chew cendol is just right beside Joo Hooi and later, there will be a very long queue.

We ordered curry noodles – here you should always remember to mix with the paste on the spoon.

Kek Sheng opened earlier and is just across the street, after the famous fly over bridge.

Kek Sheng

Day 6 Final Breakfast

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Last but not least, after 6 day and 5 nights, lots of food and about 800km

Goodbye Penang, hello, Teluk Intan


If you know of other places we could have gone, or maybe for next time you can add comments below.


Karen and Mom!

6 thoughts on “Our Trip Down Memory Lane: Malaysia’s Wonderful North”

  1. Hi. This is Karen’s mom. It was indeed an exciting and memorable trip. We had fun! I hope to do more trips like this in near future. A word of thanks to the editor for publishing this article, too.

  2. An interesting trip in another state in Malaysia. I’m planning to go the as too good to be true this friend of mine Karen has a lot to tell here..So I need not to go search in the Google anymore. Bravo…!!!

  3. It’s amazing to read and FEEL the trip..just can’t wait to be there as well..can’t resist the mouth watering delicacies as described by the DUO..yummmmmy..bravo!!

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