Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kuala Lumpur Tourist: Crab Island (Pulau Ketam)

I took the day-off to show my houseguests the famous island off the coast of Kuala Lumpur. Okay, lah - but it's a bit like the famous firefly park in that it's so far and arduous to get to - the attraction doesn't quite live up to expectations. Supposedly, this island is a wonderful place where people and tourists like to go to relax, see the old fishing village and eat some good food.

Everyone who goes there seems to be locals - and just a couple tourists. The KTM Komuter train departs from the main hall at KL Sentral from Track 5. It's incredibly hot and boring waiting on the tracks. The trains are okay - but can get quite crowded. And it takes about an hour and 18 stops each way. This is a very long way to get some food.

Don't forget to pre-pay RM 8.60 for a round-trip ticket. When you finally arrive at the end-of-the-line, the bathrooms are outside and to the left. The smell from the port and the bathrooms -- not a good thing. There's a small KFC near the station. From the station entrance, head out toward the building on your right. Then go to the far end of the dock and look for the sleek, commuter taxi boat. There's no ticket counter and no one's going to announce the arrival/departure of boat's for you. The workers don't speak English. Just make sure it's the right one.

One-way is half an hour and RM 6. I'd suggest sitting in the front row to get some more leg room. It's all A/C but the seats are covered in PVC - so it's half-of-one and half-of-another. On the way in, we were treated to Chinese karaoke - and the way back we saw a swimsuit contest and some WWF wrestling. The way back seemed shorter.

You'll want to get off at the end-of-the-line. Once off, you're on a really nicely made pier. As you enter the village, you'll see a large restaurant on your left - I think we should've tried it. If you try it, please leave a comment.

I suggest getting some drinks and ordering as soon as you arrive at the village because it's hot outside and it takes a while to cook-up your crab and fish. Then walk down the block looking at the shops - check back-in at the restaurant for your food - maybe leave one person there to hold your table. Take some pics at the end of the block outside the temple - and of the houses across the river. If you have time after lunch, you can walk farther down and take a peak at the houses on stilts.

We ate opposite the yellow sports hall - at Kim Hor restaurant. It was okay, lah - service not so good, but what to expect? We liked the RM28 - 1 kilo chili crab (about two small crabs), the RM15 fried chili squid was quite large and the RM 26 steamed fish was … well, steamed. (This dish took the longest.) I didn't like the menus which came without prices - that always means the more expensive-looking tourists pay the most. I think we were charged a bit on the high-side - but my friends were hungry and I didn't want to look cheap trying to negotiate a better price. A small lunch for four persons was RM 100.

We enjoyed the food and seeing the island inhabitants on their home-made electric bikes and electric scooters. Some guys were pulling their shop supplies by hand!! No cars because everything's on stilts.

TIPS: If you're going - do a little more pre-planning than we did and it'll save you hours of waiting time. 1.) check ur departure from KL Sentral, 2.) same with the boat from Port Klang - leaves every 45 minutes, 3.) make sure you plan to be at the Pulau Ketam dock a few minutes before departure (find out when the boat leaves), 4.) on your return during a weekday, the trains leave Port Klang every 15 minutes (from 3-8pm).

Here's how to make chili crab:

General crab info:

Schedule has changed as of 15APR06 -
The train from KL Sentral to Port Klang is listed as "Sentul - Pelabuhan Klang."

After my trip - I found the ferry boat schedule. Best to review it coz u don't want to wait another 45 minutes for the next boat back!

This island doesn't have trees - so it's hot. Bring sun lotion. If the weather's rough don't forget to take your sea-sick pill and bring ur own baggie. Oh, and some of your family or friends might be leery of getting into the boat - it looks old, low to the water and not very safe. Don't bring anyone who has a thing for safety.

This appears to be the official island website. It has great historical information and pics of the main buildings. The village was founded in the 1860s and received running water in 1991 and electricity 24/7 in 2001.

KTM Komuter has a shower room at KL Sentral. I've never used it - but it might be nice on your way back:

PS I see that there's a guy in New York charging US$28 for chili crab. He's shamelessly based his restaurant on his trip to Malaysia and appropriated the same restaurant name of a very famous local chili crab chain.

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