Kulai and Kluang

Johor is a state with strong presence of Chinese who have toiled the soils and grown the economy for centuries with the grace from the Malay rulers.

Kelapa Sawit new village is also located in the kulai district of Johor. Kelapa Sawit means oil palm in Malay. A mainly Hakka community was formed in the 1950s when the British moved many of the ethnic Chinese people into new villages like this during the Malayan Emergency. Many of the current generations still keep up with tradition and communicate using the Hakka dialect. One can find many hakka delicacies in this village.

Kulai is still one of the main producers of palm oil in the country. It is also known for its murals along the alleys. It started during a campaign when Kelapa Sawit Javert held “Let’s Art At Sawit” as a preparation for the National Day celebration in Johor. In aim to hone the talent of the people in the local communities and to welcome the celebration in Johor, painters were invited to paint the mural art. This intrigued curiosity amongst the local villagers. Under the supervision and guidance of the painters, the villagers volunteered to paint as many as 30 murals with the theme “Hakka Culture”, which become the inspiration for the villagers.

Kluang district is located in the middle of the state of Johor. The name Kluang derives from the Malay word ‘keluang’ which means a type of flying fox or rather a type of fruit bat, used to be plentiful in the district decades ago. Seemingly laid back and sleepy in the memory of many, Kluang- founded in 1915 by the British- is actually a Johor district very strong in agriculture, industry and commerce. A railway line was built passing through Kluang linking north to south Malaya as a form of transportation for labor and tropical produces. Kluang is divided into two district councils namely Simpang Renggam District Council and Kluang Municipal Council. In the early days of Kluang, it was an entirely agricultural economy known for Gambier, pepper, rubber and oil palms.

Kluang has developed a diversified agricultural and organic farm sector. One of the main attractions in Kluang is the Zenxin Organic Farm – Malaysia’s first and largest. The park offers visitors valuable insights into the techniques and virtues of organic farming, combining education and recreational fun in the process.

Kluang Rail Coffee located at the railway station which has been operating since 1938, is one of the most popular eateries in town. It still serves the classic wrapped nasi lemak and mee siam and hot coffee.

If you’re looking for a short escape from the city, come to Kluang with us to explore the town and village and visit the farm. In these tours, we venture to examine the early history of Kulai, one of Johor’s busiest city, with the story telling by Hakka descendants and also to enjoy the fine balance of tradition and urban in Kluang town.

Take a look at our tours offer to Kluang here. You could enjoy a weekend from just $88.

Kluang one day trip

Book your own dates or join us on tour on:

– 4 June

– 10 June

– 1 July

Hakka, Hike and Health Overnight Tour

Book your own dates or join our tour on:

– 10 June

– 15 July

Joy of Kampung at Bekok and Labis

Bekok is a sub-district of Segamat, Johor. It was originally a forest, and only Orang Asli dwell here. Between 1886 to 1896, Chinese loggers found good quality Chengai wood in this forest that could be sold to the Malayan Railway Company to make railway tracks, and so they stayed and developed the area.

The origin of the name itself has two stories. Some said that Bekok is derived from the Hakka dialect word ‘mukok’, which means corner. But was it the corner of the Endau Rompin forest? or corner of two larger towns nearby (Chaah and Labis)? No one knows for sure. The other saying is there were a type of large bird prominent in this area, called Burung Bekok. In their old age the birds would retreat in the forests among the mountains, and when the Orang Asli found these birds dead under the trees here, they thus name the place as Bekok.

During the pre-independence period this small town was a “Black Area” known for strong communist resistance against the British government. Today, when you could see the old wooden shops still standing strong in the town where local communities continue to live in them.

Today, generally the Chinese settles in ‘new villages’, Malays in FELDA villages, Indians in the rubber tree plantations, and aborigines in the Orang Asli settlements. All ethnic races live together in peace and mutual respect, and crime rate is very, very low in Bekok. That being said, food wise, it is still prominently a Chinese food area, where one can still enjoy delicious handmade noodles, traditional coffee and toast, deep-fried kway teow (a must-try local specialty), and chicken rice, just to name a few.

Bekok residents enjoy basic civil amenities, like a market, a bank, a petrol station, a police station, but they are especially proud of their voluntarily-run fire station. Though it is run and funded by locals with some subsidy from government, the facility and skills could be compared to the government professional fire stations. It withstood the test of time and numerous fire incidents of Bekok.

The only public transportation in this small town is the railway and though it is just a small town, it will be included as one of the stations of the High Speed Railway system, to continue serving the locals as well as visitors who usually access the Endau Rompin National Park from Bekok.

If you are looking for an escapade from the city bustle, come to Bekok by train to have your kampung experience. The train ride is only 3 hours from JB Sentral. Zenxin Travel offers a 2 days 1 night tour package to Bekok, with an additional stop in Labis on the second day so you could enjoy a health-improving hot spring dip before returning to Singapore. Our young local hosts will bring you around their beloved town and share more stories about the life in Bekok.

Take a look at our tour offer for Bekok and Labis here. With just a small group size of 4-to-go, you could enjoy a weekend differently at just $138/adult and $118/child.

If you have children, book with us now to secure your chance to a memorable adventure for this June school holidays!

P.S.: Go in a bigger group and you can enjoy the thrill of visiting the forest and farms at the back of a lorry!

Book your own dates during the holidays or join our tour dates on:
3 June
17 June
8 July

Guide to Zenxin Organic Park Tour

Contributed by Nuraini

Zenxin Organic Park, 8 April 2017

 

Farm tours are a great way for city dwellers to be acquainted with their source of food. They aren’t just for kids but for adults too. I wanted to understand more about how organic fruits and vegetables are grown and what it is like to eat fresh fruit plucked from the garden. I, along with my friend visited Zenxin Organic Park for a tour organized by Zenxin Travel located in Kluang, Malaysia on the first weekend of April 2017 to learn about organic farming.

Kulai Hakka Village

Before heading to the park, our friendly tour guide, Vivonne and driver, Mazlan brought us to a vegetarian restaurant for a hearty breakfast meal at Kulai, which was half an hour drive away from Malaysia’s checkpoint in a van. My friend and I ordered Nasi Lemak. Since it was a vegetarian restaurant, we were not expecting anything tasty but I was wrong. The pandan fragranced rice complemented by the spicy sambal chilli sauce, egg and mushroom replacing the usual ‘ikan bilis’ was mouthwatering. We also ordered Mung Bean biscuits, the locals’ famous confectionery, which was only roughly RM4. After a short rest, we proceeded to Kulai Hakka village to explore the community. There were numerous murals, which were painted by artists along the alley. The entire alley was soon filled with tourists posing with all the different murals. After about an hour of exploration and being a personal photographer for my friend, we finally drove to Zenxin Organic Park. It was approximately an hour ride away from the village.

(Cai Ban – A traditional Hakka delicacy)

Consisting of various vegetables, tofu, dried shrimps, Mexican yam bean (BangKuang)

Zenxin Organic Park Tour

Upon arrival, the friendly staffs greeted us and served us freshly brewed mulberry tea whilst educating us the benefits of it. The tour started with a short video about how the organic farm started and followed by an hour of tour around the park by the park’s tour guide. Not only did we visit the dragon fruit and mulberry farm, we even had to opportunity to pick some mulberries and taste it for our own (Dark red ones are sweet and the whiter ones are sour). The tour guide was very well educated about the various herbs and the uses of it. My greatest takeaway was that I learnt that every single herb and vegetable planted in the farm had different benefits; something which will definitely be useful in my life.

(Mulberry picking)

(One of the many herbs at the park)

Lunch | Free & easy time

For lunch, we had a steamboat meal and freshly juiced dragon fruit juice. There chicken, fish, prawn, mushrooms and other organic produce. It was a very satisfying meal (I was so full, I could barely move). You can opt for a vegetarian steamboat if you wish. We had an hour and a half after lunch to ourselves. There are many activities lined up at the park, from archery to cycling to longkang fish catching, milk bottle fish feeding and many more (all on our own expense). All the activities are very affordable, between RM3 to RM10. The idea of feeding the fishes with soaked fish food in a milk bottle was a very unique way to feeding the fishes. The fishes dive to the surface of the water competing with each other once you start bringing the bottle close to them. We also did some organic shopping at Zenxin organic food mart. The prices are reasonable and not overly priced unlike some other organic stores (If you reside in Singapore, Zenxin has an organic store located at Pasir Panjang wholesale centre).

2nd Guided Tour

We met with the tour guide again around 3pm for a second guided tour. Our first activity was called “Knock for fun”, imprinting of flower prints onto a white fabric. Basically, we place the flowers in-between the fabric and use a hammer to whack them. This will leave an imprint on the fabric, which we can bring back home as a souvenir. It was fun and a great stress reliever.

The hands-on fun activity continued when we headed over to make our own curry puff. This was my personal favorite(I was too busy gobbling the curry puff down , I didn’t get to take a photo). Instead of using regular potatoes, we used sweet potato and it was one of the best curry puffs I’ve tasted in a long time. There was also an array of delights like broccoli balls, vegetarian rojak, cherry tomatoes, mulberry tea and coffee.

After the tea break, we went on the last leg of our tour to harvest some herbs. The guide gave us tips on how to harvest and the benefits of them. Apart from harvesting potato leaves and dill, my friend who has a little garden at home even plucked some flowers that can be re-planted at home. Our journey came to an end and we bid farewell to the lovely tour guides and departed at 5pm and arrived in Singapore at 7.30pm. Its not everyday that we get to spend our time at the farm and the trip was worthwhile especially travelling with a friend, gaining information about organic farming and getting up close and personal with animals. My friend had just as much fun as I did and we wouldn’t mind travelling with Zenxin Travel for another tour again.