Kuala Selangor – Goats, Monkeys & Fireflies

Kuala Selangor Main Street

It’s always a good sign when a town has goats ambling through its main street. It suggests a slower pace of life and you get a feeling that the inhabitants are not troubled by work-life balance issues.

Not that the council that runs of Kuala Selangor has been idle. On the contrary they have quietly built up their town into a popular tourist attraction that draws in visitors in their hundreds from KL, just over an hour’s drive away.

Kuala Selangor during its heyday

Kuala Selangor was once a thriving trading port due to its location at the mouth of the River Selangor on which goods were transported to and from the interior. The town was, for a time, the state capital and was captured by the Dutch in the 1780s.  After the British took over, their attention shifted to Penang and KS slipped back into relative obscurity.

Today the town is famous for its fireflies, the nature park and the various attractions found on Bukit Melawati, the low hill that dominates the town centre. I have written about these attractions on my Malaysia-Traveller website.

In this post I am highlighting a few of the less well known sights.

View of the town centre

In the town centre is an old Post Office building which has not been as over-refurbished as many, and a Chinese temple built around an ancient tree of some spiritual significance.

Temple built in 1926Holy TreeTemple Entrance

The 1907 lighthouse has been nicely maintained.

Lighthouse at Kuala Selangor

Troops of silver leaf monkeys like to congregate near the lighthouse to beg (or snatch!) food from tourists. Oddly their babies are orange colour.

Silver Leaf Monkeys

Others prefer just to relax and enjoy the view.

Enjoying the view

On the other bank of the river is a brand new temple with an unusual cave-effect design.

Cave Temple?

At the nearby jetty are a number of seafood restaurants. This is a good place to buy locally made dried seafood products.

Dried seafood at Kuala Selangor jetty

The famous fireflies are located a few kilometres outside of town. There are two main spots – at Kampung Kuantan or the Firefly Resort Park. At these places boatmen paddle tourists past berembang mangrove trees on the river bank where fireflies put on their nightly flashing light show.

Photo on a power company billboard.

A couple of years ago some bright spark started indiscriminatingly bulldozing the mangrove trees along the river bank to clear the way for oil palms or other purposes, not realising (or not caring?) that this was depriving the endangered fireflies of their habitat. Fortunately enough fuss was made to halt the damage and prevent the fireflies from being wiped out completely in this area.

We don’t know how much longer goats will be allowed to graze in Kuala Selangor’s high street but let us hope that the town manages to retain its peaceful charm in its rush for development.

Taman Ikan Air Tawar, Kuala Selangor

Fresh Water Fish Park, Kuala Selangor

Before visiting the Kuala Selangor Nature Park the other day I popped into this place since it is located right next door. Taman Ikan Air Tawar translates as ‘freshwater fish park’.

Aquarium at Kuala Selangor

The entrance fee is only RM 2 (RM 1 for kids) so I was not expecting a world class aquarium.  They have a dozen or so fish tanks of various species, the most exciting of which is probably the Toman or Giant Snakehead.

Toman

This specimen is a relative baby. Larger ones can reach up to 130cm and weigh 20kg. They are very aggressive and eat anything that fits into their mouths. They are rumoured to attack humans but this may be just a fisherman’s tale.

Fish traps

The aquarium also has a mini-museum displaying examples of fish traps, nets and so on.

Apart from the fish, there are a couple of small aviaries and a large lotus pond which is rather attractive.

Lotus pond.

I wouldn’t make a special trip to visit this place but if you are in Kuala Selangor it is certainly worth spending half a hour there.

Lotus flower at Taman Ikan Air Tawar

The Kuala Selangor Nature Park next door has a very good mangrove forest boardwalk and is popular with birders. You can read about it on my Malaysia-Traveller website.

A splash of colour in Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Tanjong Keramat, Kuala Selangor

 

Kg. Tanjung Keramat

At the extreme point of land at the mouth of the River Selangor is a small village called Kampong Tanjung Keramat. Here can be found two of Kuala Selangor’s tourist attractions.

A keramat (or kramat) is a holy place or place of pilgrimage – often a grave but not necessarily so -and there are many of these all over Malaysia. The one in this village is called Makam Keramat Anak Dara (Virgin’s Grave) or Keramat Rubiah.

Makam Keramat Anak Dara

It sits on a small rocky hill, the sides of which have steepened by quarrying. The only way up to the keramat is via a flight of rickety wooden steps which have seen better days. I risked the steps but I was more concerned about a couple of monkeys sitting half way up.

Keramat Rubiah

The gate at the top was padlocked but there was not much to see anyway. The ‘grave’ is the white tiled rectangle inside the walled structure. The signboard outside relates the story of an 18 year old girl, Siti Aishah, who ran away from home to avoid a forced marriage. She was never found but her clothes were left hanging from a tree at this spot and her parents decided to build a shrine in her honour here.

Tasik Shima

Behind the keramat  is a lake popular with fishermen. It was apparently formed as a result of excavations by the Japanese during the War. This could account for its name, Lake Shima (Japanese for ‘island’).

A stone’s throw from here is the other tourist attraction, Tanjung Keramat Fort or Bukit Belanda (literally ‘Dutch Hill’). This one is a larger hill and the site of a fort originally built by Sultan Ibrahim, the 2nd Sultan of Selangor, who reigned from 1782-1826. It was captured by the Dutch in 1784 who renamed it Fort Utrecht.

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Unfortunately the authorities appeared to be behind in their maintenance schedule and the site was in need of a good grass cutting so I did not explore fully (scared of stepping on a snake!).

Interior of Bukit Belanda Fort

The ramparts of this fort would once have been bristling with cannons but some of these weapons seem to have found their way to the neighbouring village where they make fine garden ornaments.

Improvised cannon carriage

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