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Ayer Hitam to Air Papan

So then, a few weeks back, me and four other buddies went on a short weekend getaway to explore Malaysia again. This time, we are going to the East Coast of East Malaysia – Mersing area. We were going to visit this beach in Air Papan. Main objective is to hopefully get some shots of the Milky Way. We heard that the place was going to be pitch black at night, which makes it a prime spot for stargazing.

We loaded up onto Boss Yee Khai’s car early on Sat morning and off we go. The first leg of the journey was however, Ayer Hitam. This place is famous for its pottery, made famous by this particular pottery factory called Aw Pottery. The boss actually had other factories in China and America, which manufactures the bulk of the pottery for sale. The factory in Ayer Hitam, however, is mainly used for tourism purposes as there are plenty of tour guides who brings tourists mainly from locally, or from Singapore. While we were visiting the factory, there happened to be another group of tourists from Singapore as well.

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In the center of the factory, there is a Dragon Kiln, which had a long history with the factory and was the main kiln for producing pottery back in the old days. However, this kiln is no longer in use now, as most of the pottery are being heated in the modern ovens instead.

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We talked to an old uncle which is 70 but is still working in the factory, helping out with the pottery making here and there. He turns out to be a rather funny and informative guy, as he explains to us on how the pottery is being made. Here he is, talking and posing with Boss Yee Khai.

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As the tourists arrived, some of the workers got to work, more or less as a show for the tourists. The work consists mainly of mixing the clay and pouring the liquid clay into molds and letting them harden a bit before heating them up in the ovens.

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After touring Aw Pottery, it’s time to have some food. Driving eastwards, we are headed to Kluang, where Boss Yee Khai recommended Rail Cafe to us. This is the place to get good coffee and bread, he says. Sounds good for the rest of us! Well, i didn’t get to taste the coffee there (i’m not a coffee person), but the bread was fantastic. We had some with sambal chili, with kaya, and with butter. It was damn good!

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After our short coffee break, Boss Yee Khai immediately suggests to hunt down another place to have good food. This time it is Curry Mee. I wasn’t so sure about eating again, since i already had 2 meals. I had eaten chicken rice at the first pit stop after Aw Pottery, then it was bread at Rail Cafe, so i am a little bit full. But then again, it was a makan (food) cum photography trip so off we went!

We found the place, Gerai Makan Botak Curry Mee, and settled down. All of us just ordered the smallest bowl and wait for the food to arrive. After taking one bite of the curry mee, i realised that i had to finish up the whole bowl just because it was that good! Man, this is the best curry mee i have ever eaten in my whole life! The curry did not have coconut milk in it, which just makes it curry power and water. And it goes smoothly with the mee. If i wasn’t that full, i definitely would have ordered another bowl.

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After getting stuffed with food, it’s another long drive up towards Air Papan. On the way we passed by some water village and padi fields, but it doesn’t really look interested so we didn’t go in.

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We finally reached Air Papan around 4pm and the first thing we did was to walk around and explore the beaches. I didn’t feel anything on the beaches so no pics from me. After the walk, we went into Mersing town for some dinner. After dinner, unfortunately, rain came down upon us and we ended up back in the hotel room with snacks while watching some government rally on TV.

At around 11pm, the rain stopped but there are still plenty of clouds in the sky, so it’s most probably not a good time for stargazing. We opt for the bed instead and i made a note to wake up at around 2am to try my luck again. Well, luck was pretty bad and it was a whole sky full of clouds. This is the best i got.

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So much so for a stargazing trip. =(

So it’s up to the sunrise the next morning to help salvage the trip. Luckily, the sunrise was quite nice. We actually woke up late to get to the beach, but here’s what i got:

Feeling a little bit happy about the sunrise, we went back into town for breakfast. Initially, we wanted to check out early morning, but the reception counter wasn’t open yet, so we went exploring other parts of Air Papan. Turns out that the other side of the beach area where we are staying at has a better view and is a nicer beach! There were some areas that we can walk out onto the soft soil to see the locals catch shell fish.

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After walking around the beaches, it’s time to pack up and head home. On the way back to Singapore, we actually drove down all the way to Desaru beaches and Pengerang for lunch. All in all, this is truly a food trip and it’s a rather fun trip with wonderful company.

Here’s looking forward to another short trip in Malaysia!

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