Quiet town near Kuala Kangsar known for its archaeological sites, freshwater fish, Musang King durian and scenic panoramas.
LENGGONG – a Unesco world heritage site – is a peaceful town with lots of old-world charm.
To some, it’s a stopover before heading to Grik and to the Thai border town of Betong. However, Lenggong has a lot more to offer.
The town, located along the Kuala Kangsar-Grik trunk road, is 45km from Kuala Kangsar. To get there, one can exit at Kuala Kangsar via the North-South Expressway.
The journey to the town can be refreshing, with rubber and palm oil plantations as well as lush greenery lining both sides of the road.
Travellers usually stop at Lenggong to savour some of its delicacies, especially freshwater fish.
In Lenggong town, one can find several restaurants that serve these delicacies. One of them is Sin Hup Yik seafood restaurant.
Another famous restaurant in this quaint district is the Tasik Raban restaurant, famed for its ikan bakar.
People throng these restaurants every weekend as they are guaranteed a good culinary experience.
Ng Lay Chu,46, who runs the Sin Hup Yik restaurant with her husband, said her restaurant is always packed and customers must make reservations.
“Weekdays are usually quiet but on weekends, it’s crazy.
“They come here to have our freshwater fish such as jelawat, kelah and sultan. But the most famous fish is belida. With belida, we make fish balls and serve them fried or steamed,” she said.
Ng, who has lived in Lenggong for more than 20 years, said the town is always peaceful and the people get along well.
Loke Ah Hong, 75, who runs a photo studio with his son in town, came to Lenggong in 1967.
“Before that, I was in Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru doing various jobs. I came to Lenggong to start a business and decided to stay put.
“Many people say it’s a cowboy town, but I love the atmosphere here. People of all races are able to interact well with each other. You can easily make friends here,” he said
Ah Hong said the place has not changed much over the last 49 years.
However, the lack of factories in Lenggong has led to youngsters leaving the town in search of better job opportunities.
“If there were a small industrial area here, you would be able to see more youths staying on. The only thing that thrives here are the plantations,” said Ah Hong, who is also state Gerakan vice-chairman.
“The famous Musang King durian is easily available in Lenggong, as well as the best freshwater fish. Many people come here for it. Whether it’s Malay or Chinese-style cooking, you will enjoy the food here,” he said.
His son Loke Hon Mun, 46, worked in Kuala Lumpur for a while before deciding to return home to help his father run the photo studio.
“Many people have asked me, ‘You’re young so why come back to Lenggong?’
“My answer to them is, nothing beats my hometown.
“Most of my friends are here and the surroundings are so peaceful, unlike the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur.
“For me, Lenggong should remain a small town. I don’t want it to be swallowed up by modernisation,” added Hon Mun.
Sarina Ahmad Rusli, 29, who works as a shop assistant, said the environment at Tasik Raban was cosy and peaceful.
Surrounded by lush greenery and fauna, Sarina said she does not want to move away and is glad that her husband is from Lenggong, too.
“People may think that the place is too quiet, but we have the Lata Kekabu waterfall, Tasik Raban, the archaeological museum, and ancient caves,” she said.
Sarina hoped that there would soon be a night market there. Tasik Raban is a sight to behold.
The lake is as silver as a diamond flame and the atmosphere is quiet with chalets around it, where one can enjoy nature’s beauty.
Migratory birds can also be seen at the lake, and if you want to experience a ride on the lake, there are boats provided by the local council.
Lenggong is also one of Malaysia’s most important areas for archaeology, as it has been found to be the oldest site of human activity in peninsular Malaysia.
Skeletal remains of the country’s oldest prehistoric man – the Perak Man – was unearthed by archaeologists at Gua Gunung Runtuh in 1991 and is displayed at the Lenggong Archaeological Museum.
However, the museum is currently closed for upgrading work until June next year.
Syed Idris Syed Abdul Hamid, 79, a resident of Lenggong, recalled his experience during the Communist insurgency and when the Malayan Emergency was declared from 1948 to 1960.
“During curfew time, it was tense and tough. I was a young kid and to see the Malayan guerrilla war, it was scary.
“But after the Emergency, Lenggong became peaceful and has developed. I have lived here for a long time and have even became a village chief.
“After those darkest hours, we all went about with our lives. One thing about Lenggong residents, we persevere and make do with what we have.”
Syed Idris hopes to see more youth doing their bit to help Lenggong folk.
“Agriculture is our main source of income but the youngsters are not keen on taking it up as a career. It can be lucrative if you put your heart and soul into it.”
Lenggong may be quaint but the characters that live there give the place colour.
Call it cowboy town, but with its picturesque scenery, long history and amazing food, Lenggong will never be just an ordinary town.