Last weekend was a long one, in that the Friday coincided with Malaysia Day (16th September). It so happened that I had a work assignment in Mersing on that Thursday. Well, actually I pre-arranged it to be on that particular day so hubby and I could spend the weekend in Tioman Island. This was probably the only time that I dragged hubby along for my work assignment. He, in turn, had to apply for one day leave from work (makes me feel guilty now). Our slow and relaxing drive to Mersing on Wednesday evening took us nearly 5 hours, exiting the North-South Expressway at Ayer Hitam and passing through the towns of Kluang and Kahang.
The road was pretty good from Ayer Hitam to Kahang and thereafter, it became very rugged, narrow and winding, not to mention dark as well. It was almost 9pm when we eventually arrived at Mersing. Needless to say, we were famished and upon checking into Havanita Hotel (RM190/night – everything paid for by my company), we hurried off to a tiny restaurant opposite Hock Soon Temple and Sri Subramaniar Temple, two of Mersing’s most prominent landmarks. Each of us just had a simple bowl of noodle (nothing special about it) and then retired to bed. Hubby was dead tired as he had an emergency case till 4am. It was amazing he could still drive us to Mersing that same evening. Thank God for that.
Early next morning, hubby was still deep in sleep when I went off for work. After I was done and returned to the hotel at about 11:30am, we went out in search for lunch. There were a couple of seafood restaurants, but we thought we’d reserve that for dinner. So, we ended up eating some Vietnamese noodles at Vietnam Village Restaurant (44 Jalan Jemaluang, Mersing). They were pretty tasty actually and authentic as well, being prepared by two Vietnamese ladies. Hubby had a glass of Vietnamese coffee, which he claimed was awesome. It was fascinating how a coffee-filled aluminium container was placed on top of a glass with condensed milk in it and the coffee was allowed to trickle slowly into the glass through a metal drip filter (cà phê phin).
After lunch, we went gallivanting around town. Mersing is a quaint small town, located at the estuary of Mersing River and is most popular as a layover for tourists en route to Tioman Island. In fact, we were supposed to go to Tioman Island right after my work, but there weren’t any ferry available anymore (only 2 trips in the morning), forcing us to spend another night in Mersing.
We took a slow drive along Jalan Abu Bakar to the jetty and went down to check out the specific counter where we were supposed to collect our ferry tickets the next morning (tried our luck, thought we could collect it a day earlier but to no avail). We then drove to Taman Laut Sultan Iskandar (Sultan Iskandar Marine Park) which includes Pantai Bandar Mersing (Mersing Beach) and spend some time there enjoying the sea breeze. What I like about this place is that it wasn’t even crowded with people despite the long weekend and week-long school holiday.
There were in fact a few other islands nearer to Mersing than Tioman Island, namely Pulau Rawa, Pulau Babi Besar and Pulau Setindan, the latter two are visible from Pantai Bandar Mersing. From there, we then drove to Hospital Mersing and turned into Jalan Ismail towards the town’s main roundabout. Along the way, we passed by two other notable landmarks – Masjid Jamek Mersing (perched atop Bukit Cantik) and Church of St Joseph.
It was the Mid-Autumn Festival that day and Hock Soon Temple came to life at night with all sorts of cultural activities. We had dinner at T & K Seafood Restaurant (No. 10, Lot 7411, Jalan Jemaluang) then went for a short walk along Jalan Sulaiman (parallel to Mersing River), where most of the hotels and shops are located. We hit the sack around 9pm as we had to get our Tioman tickets at the jetty, latest by 5am. More on Tioman Island in my next post.
Our Tioman getaway was short-lived, one day to be exact. We would have preferred to stay longer but we had no choice because of the limited ferry trips per day. We arrived from Tioman Island at 11am, headed for our car which was parked at Havanita Hotel (Tip: park free of charge at a nearby hotel, otherwise you’ll end up paying RM18/night at the jetty). From there, we proceeded to search for the popular local delicacy – keropok lekor, which is located in Kampung Mersing Kanan as we were told by a friendly chap in a restaurant. It was exciting to observe how keropok lekor was processed at the mini factory of Perusahaan Keropok Sri Mersing. Actually, there are many more keropok stalls for your indulgence along Jalan Makam, if you are really into it. As expected, I bought 6 raw pieces for RM5.
Up next would be Air Papan (15-minute drive), a popular beach among locals. This beach really seemed like an ideal place for camping, reminiscent of our trips to the Australian beaches. Perhaps I’ll come back again sometime in the future just for that.
We had already planned to return to KL through Endau-Rompin, adjacent towns separated by Endau River into two different states. This was our next stop (30 minutes north) and this time for lunch as well. I must confess that the road between Mersing and Endau is arguably one of the best roads in the country. Just like Mersing, Endau (Johor side of Endau River) is also another small town. We had lunch at Mian Xiang Yuan Restaurant, then drove across the river to Rompin (Padang side of Endau River). This is where Tanjung Gemuk Jetty (another alternative to Tioman Island) is located.
Rompin was our last stop and thereafter, we drove continuously through Muadzam Shah, Kuala Pilah, Seri Menanti and Seremban. All in all, our journey back to KL took almost 5 hours due to a slight traffic buildup from Seremban onwards. It was an extraordinary weekend especially for me as I successfully killed two birds with one stone.
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