Wide and open plains characterize the inland landscape of Sekinchan, a small town in the district of Sabak Bernam in Selangor, Malaysia. During the Eat Travel Write Selangor Culinary Adventure, our tour bus drove through an endless carpet of rice paddies, some of them bore grains of rice and were golden in color. Situated along the Malacca Strait, Sekinchan started as a fishing village in the 1920s. The earliest settlers were Teochew (Chaozhou), native to the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong province who speak the Teochew dialect. Presently, Sekinchan – which means “a village suitable for planting” – is now known for its high-yield rice farming. Hence, the town is nicknamed the “Rice Bowl of Selangor”.
Our bus finally pulled over next to Ah Ma House, a specialty bakeshop in the middle of the rice fields. The family-run business sells Chinese delicacies made from their grandmother’s recipes, hence, the shop’s name, ah ma, which means “grandmother” in Hokkien. Their main product is Ah Ma cake and traditional baked goodies like pineapple tart and kuih bangkit (tapioca cookies).
An interesting thing to watch was how kuih kapit was made outside the shop by a production line of three people. Kapit is a traditional kuih or bite-sized snack of wafer-thin biscuits made by clasping egg batter with an iron mold over charcoal stove. The molds are etched with animal motifs such as fish, roosters and snails that are both auspicious and decorative. It is believed that these biscuits were first introduced by Dutch or Portuguese colonizers, and were brought to parts of Malaysia and Singapore from Penang, Melaka and Medan by Perenakan (Chinese Malays) merchants. Other names for kapit are sapit, sepit or belanda, the last meaning “Dutch” in Malay.
Ah Ma House also provides tour buggies and trishaws for visitors to see other attractions located in the vast paddy fields. Hopping onto buggies refurbished to look like vintage cars, we departed the bakeshop to see the rest of the farm area. We drove again through the rice fields to Nian Tan Temple (Nine Emperor Gods Temple), a bright yellow-and-red Taoist temple standing out in a vastness of lush green. This temple was established in 1984 and rebuilt to its present-day size in 2004. I walked into the main hall which housed statues of Taoist deities, worshipped by locals with candles and incense. Visiting this solemn temple was a pleasant change of scenery after traveling through endless fields.
After the temple, we drove to the final attraction: the Paddy Gallery of PLS Marketing, a rice processing factory that has opened its doors to tourists. Here, we watched an AVP video explaining the company’s rice production process. Unlike in the Philippines, rice farming in Sekinchan is aided by advanced machinery from the sowing of seeds on nursery mats to transplanting seedlings on the fields to the harvesting and processing of rice. It’s no wonder Sekinchan is one of the most productive rice-growing areas in Malaysia!
After watching the video in the screening room, we shuffled through a glass hallway overlooking the factory, then through a small museum showcasing traditional rice farming implements. Our tour ended at a shop selling the finished product: different varieties of rice such as brown rice and Japanese rice.
For more information about tourism in Sekinchan, visit their official website.
Endnote: Besides Ah Ma House, another place in Selangor to enjoy Chinese snacks is Auntie Kopitiam (Tel. +60 3-3289 7289) at C-3 Jalan Sultan Ibrahim, Kuala Selangor which specializes in nonya kuih (Chinese-Malay bite-sized snacks) such as glutinous rice dumplings, glutinous rice balls and red tortoise cake (shown above).
This blog post was made possible through Eat Travel Write Selangor Culinary Adventure, a media trip held last June 11 to 14, 2015 in Selangor, Malaysia. The event was organized by Tourism Selangor and media coordinator, Gaya Travel Magazine.