Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day Trip to Pengerang (邊佳蘭頭灣), Johor (Malaysia)

Judging from the questions received from fellow Singapore residents who have never been to pengerang, i think it would be good to blog on my day trip to this relatively unknown place in nearby Johor province of Malaysia.

Let me bring you back to 13 November 2011; a rare Sunday when i was unceremoniously pulled out of my cozy bed at 4.45am to get ready for the trip!

Dawn has barely started her day when we reached Changi Point ferry terminal. I was hungry for breakfast but since none of my relatives and family appeared to feel the same way; i figured i could afford to wait till we reach Malaysia.

Bumboat service to Pengerang starts officially at 7am and you are required to hand over your passport for custom registration. At S$10 per ride per person, the bumboat operator will only leave if the capacity of twelve passengers is filled. Note the words "No Fixed Departure Time"! 

In the frustrating situation where you have waited for far too long, you just need to pay the operator the equivalence of twelve passengers and the bumboat is ready to go.

See that hill at the horizon? That's pengerang. It looks pretty near yet it took us one gruelling hour to reach! I was so bored with nothing to do as i am prone to motion sickness and could not afford to risk spoiling the day with continuous spells of giddiness by playing iPhone games and reading books.

Interior of the bumboat - i guess the maximum capacity of twelve persons is for safety reason since there is definitely enough space to squeeze in more passengers.

This was almost forty minutes into our slow moving ride.

Finally!!! At this point, my uncle took the opportunity to ask the operator if we could make a reservation for our return ride. This move proved to be really beneficial at the end of the day as there were so many people waiting for a ferry to get back to Singapore.

Besides a small convenience shop located within the ferry terminal (or dock), there is no other commercial area! Walking a few kilometers to the nearby Sungai Rengit town was not an option. We had no choice but to book a taxi (that can seat 4 adults) for the whole day at RM 90 (roughly S$40).

First stop - an amazingly small Chinese temple! Chinese familiar with the classical novel "Journey to The West" will find this temple similar to the one Sun Wu Kong transformed into in his great battle with Erlang deity.

Size aside, i love the peaceful surrounding devoid of any beachgoers and tall buildings. City life can be really frustrating and despite my usual noisy behaviour, i do enjoy quiet moments like this.

Coming back to the cute little temple, it has a history spanning more than a hundred years and with reference to a document i found on the web, it worships Ma Zu (goddess of the sea) and Tua Pek Kong.

I am a frequent patron of Chinese temples (thanks to mom) but this is definitely the first time i am seeing a dragon-headed dagger (knife) in the incense urn!

Located next to the temple is a shack that could probably serve as sleeping quarter for the temple's caretaker. Either that or it's a play house for the kids living next door.

Sungai Rengit town! We actually visited another temple and were on schedule to visit a third temple when my cousin and i protested that we could not take the emptiness in our stomachs anymore!!!

Malaysian style wanton noodles that were surprisingly not impressive.

Wife's biscuits (老婆饼) was recommended under "what to buy" in the wikitravel's page on pengerang and the best place to purchase them is from this shop called Kedai Kek Lim Choo Seng (聚成中西饼店) at sungai rengit town.

With only two main streets, it was not difficult to find our way to the shop which is opposite the only Marrybrown fast food restaurant in town.

Lim Choo Seng's main business is Chinese pastries and there was quite a comfortable variety to choose from.

Some, like their signature wife's biscuits, are freshly made in the shop while some are imported from other parts of Malaysia. For wife's biscuits, there are two types available for sale; big wife and small wife (in manadarin, small wife means concubine).

Traditional glass containers for biscuits! It's been so long since i last touched these! Those with peanuts are terrible heaty and i risk having a sore throat every time i lack the conviction to stop crunching them in my mouth.

Mom was holding the big wife's biscuit for comparison sake and as you could see, it was as big as my mom's head! I should have taken a bite then as my younger sister happily finished it the next day... =(

While strolling on the other side of the road (otherwise known as marrybrown side), a whiff of pancake fragrance hit our nose and we stopped precariously by the road side - undecided if we should buy some given our not too long ago breakfast.

F*ck it - it's only RM1.50 for the peanut pancake! An equivalent size will sell for S$2 in Singapore and i am a sucker when it comes to such good deals!

Big pancakes are usually not my preferred type as i tend to feel shortchanged on the fillings (would likely ingest 90% flour, 10% filling). But this one was well balanced in the proportion and definitely one of the better pancakes i have.

Spotted this old school brick game console at one of the shops! Once upon a time, you will catch people playing this on the trains and buses!

Another temple; albeit a more famous one. With mom, temple visits are part and parcel for any overseas trip.

Patron deity is again Mazu, the goddess of sea. As the fastest way to travel to Southeast Asia back in the early twentieth century is by water (oceans, seas and rivers), many Chinese emigrants pray to Mazu for a safe journey and this has resulted in many temples worshipping her.

Situated right in front of the temple is this muddy river. It would be befitting to have the temple facing the sea, just like the first temple we visited in the beginning of this post.

Living in land scarce Singapore means that many kampong (village) dwellers were faced to evict for needed development in the 80s and 90s. I was one of them and the house in this photograph bears an uncanny resemblance to the old house we had in the Nee Soon area.

Next desination was ostrich farm. You can read more here.

The highlight of the trip; a sumptuous seafood lunch at good luck restaurant! Click here for more information on what we had.

While on our way to a shop that sells live seafood, we chanced upon this modern building that seems grossly out of place.

You get my picture?

When i was still living in the kampong, it's common to find people selling provisions from the comfort of their own house. In this case, bubble milk tea.

We didn't manage to purchase any seafood (everything was sold out) although we did manage to get to the town centre of Sungai Rengit again; the seafood restoran is within walking distance!

Saw a water lizard on our way back to the ferry terminal - my family used to catch this in our village back when wildlife cuisine was still legal in the Singapore market.

Saying our goodbye to Pengerang! Will i be back? Probably for the lobsters and wife's biscuits!


  1. hello there! i happened to stumble upon your blog while searching for artichoke cafe reviews. read through and saw this post on the trip to pengerang!


    do you mind me asking for details on how to get there/ how to get around/ place to go? :)

    it's a bumboat ride from changi point ferry terminal for $10 a person each way, am i right? and how do you get around the place itself? :) is everything within walking distance? is it easy to find all these places you went to?

    looks so good! and could you recommend some great food places as well? :D

    drop me an email if you don't mind! i'll appreciate it :)

  2. Hi Natz,

    Thank you for visiting! For the benefit of other readers, i would answer your questions here. Hope you don't mind! :)

    To be frank, this is an impromptu virgin visit to Pengerang so the places are limited to what i have published here.

    Yes, bumboat tickets are S$10 a way and i would recommend you work out a deal with the bumboat operator for your return trip.

    There's nothing much to explore within walking distance and in our case, we booked a few cabs (10 of us) for the whole day. You might want to consider the same.

    For food... hm.... people visit pengerang for the seafood at sungei rengit. And the only one i tried was

    Feel free to ask me should you have more questions and i shall try my best to answer them.

    Enjoy the weekend!

  3. Janelle12:10 PM


    I will be visiting Desaru in August and would like to understand more about the rental of cabs for a whole day from the jetty. (It is so difficult to find info about renting cab for a day in Desaru online! and your blog has it all!)

    - It's MYR 90 / day to anywhere u wanna go?
    - So i just flag any cab from the jetty and ask for the rental? Per the hotel reservation counter, there isn't such thing as rental for a day.

    Thank you for sharing! =)

  4. Hi Janelle,

    Thanks for visiting!

    For the cab - as i went pretty early, there were already cabs waiting at the exit and it didn't take us long to strike a deal and book the cab for e day.

    Having said that, i hope you are aware that the last ferry left at around 4.30pm so in a way, i would put the rental for at most half a day instead of a full day.

    Enjoy your trip!


  5. My questions for you are: given that Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal is further, how long would it take us to reach the Sungai Rengit town? Would there be taxis available for us to take?