Riding to Raub, Pahang during the long holidays? Then here’s what this little town has to offer.
Story By: Michele Theseira
Raub is no doubt a familiar place to many in the biking community, especially for those who enjoy indulging in the seasonal King of Fruit, the Durian! In fact, it is such a lovely quaint town with just the right amount of attractions to draw a weekly pull of city folks to cause a weekend congestion of people and vehicles.
Nevertheless, for those who only know Raub for its durians and the three already famed Lemang Toki outlets, here are a few more interesting spots that warrant a fabulous time and a scenic ride, complete with rolling hills and corners that can help you narrow down those chicken strips on your tyres.
But first, you’ll need to head onto the north-south highway that leads you to Kuantan/Genting Highlands and yes, ride on the harrowing Karak Highway. For those who are wondering why harrowing? Well for one thing, this highway is notorious enough to have made it into the list of “most dangerous Malaysian roads”. Some parts of the stretch have also taken many lives – bikers, drivers and passengers of cars, vans, busses, you name it. So it is advisable to ride with care and caution when heading to Raub or on any journey that requires you to pass through Karak.
For a start, we recommend this trip over the weekend as Raub could come as just a stone’s throw away for most bikers. For this group, we started off our journey at 7.30am, meeting at one of many bikers meeting hotspots, the BHP Petrol Station on the left, after the Gombak toll. Try not to indulge in any breakfast here as you will want to keep that stomach space for that famed Lemang Toki rendang and barbequed chicken, with lemang (sticky rice in bamboo).
From the petrol station, follow the road towards Karak Highway, Genting Highlands and Bukit Tinggi, but take note that we are looking out for the first Bentong toll booth. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery and morning cool and crisp fresh air as you ride. Remember to stay attentive as there are many blind and tight corners, apart from oil slicked spots and the odd piece of garbage someone threw out from their vehicle. Mind you, animal carcasses pose another hazard along these roads interstate roads.
Turn left into Bentong town just after the first Bentong toll. You’ll come to a T-junction and need to take a right. Follow the road all the way until you reach the town. Along the way, take in the sights, smells and sounds of the lovely wooden houses, the stalls selling knick-knacks and foodstuff, and more. In town, just follow the main road, past the famous Bentong wet market (you won’t miss it as there will be congestion of vehicles and people, kapchais included).
After the town area, it just about a couple of kilometres before you see a huge signboard that reads Lemang Toki on your left. By 8/8.30am, there will be cars and bikes all lined up along both sides of the road, and hungry people waiting for their morning fill of yumminess. Satiate in the aroma and tastes of this “specialty” and then make your way up along the main road, heading straight on past Chamang Waterfalls, Lee Rubber, Mempaga and Lurah Bilut. Do take time to stop and take in the view of the rolling hills and many farms and plantations.
We make a stop at the Valley Agro Park where there is a bee farm. We stop to learn how honey is harvested, and browse around the “resort” which has a restaurant and many picturesque spots to snap selfies and wefies. Acitivities of sorts can be arranged – from night treks to day hikes, and swimming at the waterfalls located deep into the forest There are rooms to accommodate groups of different sizes ranging between RM50 to RM270 per night. Check out some of the room types … some offer interesting spaces where you seriously would not want to sleep walk or fall off your bed.
If you don’t plan to put up a night here, you can head on to another place that is “kampong style” that comes with the warmth of true Malaysian hospitality – at Wawa Homestay or Rumah Inap Wawa.
To get here, simply follow the road to Bentong, Frasers Hills,” laluan alternative to Kota Baru (or Waze/Google Maps to UITM Raub). Turn right at the sign that reads Felda Krau and follow the quiet road past the university. At the crossroads, take a left and follow the single lane route that has a couple of tight corners along the hilly terrain. Look out for the modest sign on the right of the road that points you to this homestay.
This place has a special place in this writer’s heart. The owner Pakcik Manaf Awang and his wife Arina Ariffin are lovely souls. Calm and easy going in nature, you’ll rest assured that your stay with these folks will be a pleasurable and memorable one, even more if you’re a biker. Why? Simply because all Pakcik’s five children (one son and four daughters) aged between 28 and 12, can ride, including Pakcik himself, an avid biker who has owned so many bikes throughout his life, he has lost count.
Wawa Homestay was opened to the public in June 2014. The place can accommodate cosy groups of various sizes, but not more than 50 people. From intimate weddings to small corporate event and bikers and family gatherings, you’re assured of the best this family has to offer, including Kak Arina’s delicious fresh servings of local specialties like ikan patin masak tempoyak or gulai masam ikan patin and at just Rm10 per head. For the foreign biker or tourist who intends to savour all that is local, the family are more than happy to share all they can to make your stay with them a memorable experience.
There are five chalets at Wawa Homestay costing between RM100 to RM150 per chalet, ideally accommodating from one to 15 pax, per chalet, some with air-conditioning. The air here is cool, especially at nights. Simply leave the windows open and enjoy your night’s rest on a four poster bed, complete with canopy netting for a traditional feel.
During the day, you can make arrangements with the family for various choices of activities that include offroad biking in a plantation or at the famed Lata Jarum/Berembun. You could also stop at one of the many waterfalls and rivers to soak in the icy-cold water and have a picnic – Sungai Liang, Sungai Kong Kong, Pulau Cekas or the more scenic Sungai Dong at Tras which requires a short four-wheel drive ride offroad and some hiking.
Alternatively, you could do a Raub city tour where the family will introduce you to the best fishead curry at Restoran Rathas, followed by the much talked-about Cendol Gemuk, near the Raub Lake Gardens. There are a number of old buildings in this once famous gold-mining town. Today, it beckons a different type of gold, of the fruity kind, as Raub is best known for is acres and acres of durian (and other fruit) plantations.
If you enjoy an outdoor barbeque with easy conversation under the cool Raub sky, Pakcik Manap and his family will be all too pleased to put on the barbie. Just let them know beforehand so they can marinate your preferred meats/seafood according to your tastebuds. You could go with their selection and try some local marinades, but let them know your acceptable level of ‘spicy’.
The Wawa Homestay compound is huge. There is ample space to park all sorts of vehicles, small and large, and in covered or open-air spots. All the chalets depict a local flair to give you a real kampong experience. As the owner and his wife are both talented, he in woodwork and she in cooking, they are happy to teach basic courses and share their knowledge and skill with interested parties. By the way, Pakcik has a huge woodwork ‘factory’ at a corner of the compound. All the chalets and 90% of the wooden furniture in this homestay are made by the enterprising and affable man himself.
After a short weekend stay here, you’ll leave refreshed and ready t take on the work week and plan for your next ride, perhaps somewhere a little farther after this relaxing sojourn. For bookings at Wawa Homestay, call 019-989 1110.