Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Short Trip to Bentong

Our driving route : Penang --> Ipoh --> Bukit Tinggi --> Bentong --> KL --> Ipoh --> Penang.

Due to our good friends' wedding ceremony at Bentong and dinner at KL, we had a great 3D2N self-drive trip at the end of May. The bridegroom wanted us to go straight to KL. However, I insisted to go to Bentong.

I love small towns in Malaysia. I always do. And I had great time in Bentong during my last visit. So, when we have chance to revisit Bentong, I, of course, chose staying in Bentong instead of KL!

After our lunch in Ipoh, we planned to go straight to Bentong. However, through Facebook, we noticed that the bride-to-be and bridegroom-to-be were still in Genting. Hence, we detoured to Bukit Tinggi instead.

PH was extremely tired and wanted to pamper himself. He called a few resorts in Bukit Tinggi to check for the spa / massage price and he found some great discount (according to him la~). When he told us that it cost about over RM100, we were 90% sure that he had heard it wrongly but we decided to try our luck anyway. So this was how we ended up in The Chateau Spa and Organic Wellness Resort.

One will immediately notice how exclusive this place is as soon as you enter the premises. The guards are extremely well trained. They speak fluent English, and they followed us to the car park to show us the most convenient spot to park our car, and led us to the waiting area before the spa officer came to serve us.


This was where we waited for the spa officer

Pathway to the spa

We were lead to second floor, and another officer showed us around. We were awed by the facility. They have "heated massage bed imported from German", mineral pool, sauna infused wit herb etc (just named a few that I could remember). While listening to the introduction, besides being super impressed, we were also very concerned about the price too :) Due to their excellence service, we felt terrible to say "thank you very much but we are not interested". Meanwhile, we didn't plan to spend a fortune here too! I'm sure you can imagine our internal struggles.

After guided us around the facility, the officer finally brought us to an extremely relaxing patio facing the forest. The spa manager came to showed us their spa courses, wellness programs etc. We scanned the price list and knew immediately we were in deep trouble. The cheapest 2D1N wellness program cost RM1999 per pax (full board, with fine dinning dinner and various massages and fitness/wellness courses)!! Luckily we found the cheapest on the list: medicure & pedicure. It costs around RM150 if I remember correctly. There's also a introductory massage that costs RM180 for 25 mins!! We prepared for the worst. If none of us have the courage to say "thank you very much but we have to go", we might have to go for these below RM200 items.

View from the chateau
When we were having crazy internal mental arguments and negotiations, the manager said "I'm very sorry that we have only one slot left for today, and there are no slots left for tomorrow either. We do not have enough trained personnel to cope for four of you", you can imagine how relieved we were!! PH showed his "disappointment expression" and requested the manager to send him the details so that we can plan for our next trip. We couldn't help but laughed at ourselves after we left the premises. Definitely the thrill of the trip :)

We did promise to ourselves that when we make enough money from our Plan B / Plan C / Plan D etc, we shall return. The 3D2N wellness program sounds great! This experience also strengthen our belief that price is never the issue (Fully booked!! With this price!!) People willing to pay as long as you provide the experience that's value for money.

After our "adventure", we continued our journey to Bentong. We didn't call the bridegroom because we didn't want to give him too much headache before his big day. We went to explore the town by ourselves instead.

Our first stop was at the street with lots of eatery stalls. Found some tasty looking salted fried chicken (盐酥鸡), deep fried mushrooms etc. We definitely have the "tourist look" because the stall owner thought we were from Taiwan!.


We then went for the wantan mee at Meng Kei (明记). We heard the famous one is Hooi Kee (开记) but that stall is open only in the morning. So we decided to give it a try anyway. My friend's mum later told us that she think this is the worst wantan mee in Bentong, but I think it is not bad at all. Not excellence, but not bad at all.




I wanted to try more of Bentong food but the others claimed that they were too full for another round so we decided to go back to bridegroom's house to shower first before our next round.
 
Around 11pm, after the bridegroom got everything settled and finally free, we went out for another round of food hunting. The one that I have to highlight is the "Hong Kong fried chicken" at BuYeTian (不夜天). Please don't ask me where this name comes from but I'm very sure it's not from Hong Kong. Anyway, this fried chicken is fried with chopped garlic crumbs!! Lots and lots of them! The fragrant was nice and we love the chopped garlic crumbs. We love it so much we actually focusing on eating the crumbs than the chicken.

The next morning, we went to the famous Hooi Kee for wantan mee. The noodle is very springy but the sauce is a bit too sweet for my taste.
The wantans are very good though.





















In the same shop, there's another food stall that caught my attention, the one selling Hakka Yong Tau Fu (客家酿豆腐).

We are pampered with tons of choices that normally we don't see in Penang. Penangites normally do not crave for Yong Tau Fu, most probably because there are very limited stalls in Penang that sells good Yao Tau Fu.

Me, on the other hand, grew up at Ipoh, where Yong Tau Fu is a serious matter and I LOVE Yong Tau Fu.

Yong Tau Fu lovers are in heaven when come to Bentong. There are Yong Tau Fu stalls every where.

This stall that we tried is very good. The minced pork and hint of salty fish mixed so well with the taufu / eggs / eggplant. I wondered if they would open a franchise in Penang to start some "Yong Tau Fu trend" in Penang. (Almost a decade ago, there was almost zero 'ban mee' stalls in Penang. Now 'ban mee' is every where! So, even though not typical authentic Penang food, Penangites will always 'give chance' if you serve good food)















Our final stop before heading to KL for the wedding dinner preparation, was to stop at this extremely humble stall for "ban mee". This IS THE ONE that I've been waiting for.

First of all, you must understand that I grew up in Ipoh from age 7 to 13, and I spent 3 years in Tronoh in my early twenties. I have had all the great ban mee in my youth before the ban mee trend picked up in Penang. And I have to tell you this. So far, none of the ban mee stall in Penang sells excellence ban mee. Some are better than others, but none of them make unforgettable 'ban mee'. They just don't do the "kuih" right.

This little stall at Bentong on the other hand, make one of the best "kuih". It was smooth and springy. You knew the owner had spent hours and great effort in processing the flour (赶面粉) as soon as your first bite. Besides the "kuih", I also love the crunchy anchovies and the nice ratio of sweet leave (mani cai). Their special made chilli sauce go very well with the "ban mee" too!

What a great way to conclude my Bentong trip!





Read also my Pahang Trip in 2011, including Bentong, Sungai Lembing and Teluk Cempedak:
惊喜处处彭亨游(一)
惊喜处处彭亨游(二)
惊喜处处彭亨游(三)
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