Coastal Jeram bashful but nice
Writer: Lin Zhen Yuan
Published: Fri, 13 Jul 2012
Jeram is one of those places in Selangor that you may never visit in your lifetime. It is considered an outback even in the backwaters of Kuala Selangor.
A family of mudskippers seeking refuge on a boulder from the strong currents.
Within a 14km radius of Jeram, there are 23 kampungs and about 15 commercial agro-based estates. The kampungs include Kampung Sungai Sembilang, Kampung Dungun, Kampung Pantai and Kampung Bukit Jeram.
The names of some estates are Braunston, Athlone, Lambourne, Carnarvon, Brafferton and Guernsey. There are also about six streams within 14 kilometres and five small islands within nine kilometres.
It wasn’t the best of afternoons when I stumbled onto Jeram. But being a creature of regular eating habits, I screeched to a halt in front of a restaurant somewhere along the Jeram trunk road.
After having my fill of dumplings and noodles, I casually asked the woman cashier where Jeram town is. She responded with a bemused look and said there was none.
In my limited experience as a domestic traveller, such an answer would trigger a mental scenario of trees, bushes, lonely untarred roads and tired-looking inhabitants.
I knew it was going to be very interesting when the restaurant workers added that “pekan” to the Jeram residents meant Kapar town which was five minutes’ drive away.
That was one of those rare occasions when I was clearly stumped. I turned my car around and headed for Meru. Later when someone asked how my road trip was, I could only reply “Geram dengan Jeram!” (frustrated with Jeram).
A week after my Jeram trip, I was still dissatisfied with my incomplete exploration. My insatiable curiosity and relentless determination to scratch beneath the surface of a very docile Jeram let me to uncover on the Google map that Jeram is more than just a bashful pastoral sanctuary.
So on a Sunday that held promises of further boredom and intolerable humidity, I fired up the car engine and returned to Jeram. On my second journey, there were no wrong turns like the first.
Relying on well honed instincts, I made a sudden left turn from the trunk road and found myself minutes later staring at a sign that says “Medan Ikan Bakar Pantai Jeram”.
It was a fairly large restaurant by the sea which has undisguised pockets of marshland. It was 3pm and the eatery was almost deserted except for some unexpected wide-eyed outsiders -- us!
The 50-odd tables and the presence of waiters provided ample proof that there would be a big evening crowd. The large single-storey establishment was clearly popular, otherwise there was no reason for the two dozen or so workers milling around the place.
But this “Pantai Jeram medan” wasn’t so much a seaside playground as it was a restaurant with a view. The water edge was filled with sharp rocks. The waves were strong and choppy. It was after all the Straits of Malacca.
Even the mudskippers were seen taking refuge from the powerful currents by assembling on top of a boulder by the sea. A “pondok perindu” nearby peeked conspicuously at first time visitors.
It was a venue for company training courses which took place about twice a month, explained a worker walking on its well landscaped grounds.
Like a child who sometimes keeps the best toys for himself, Jeram has another prized possession which I suspect only local residents are familiar with. It has its own Pantai Remis (not the one in Perak).
It is about a kilometre from the Medan Ikan Bakar Pantai Jeram. I only veered into the one-kilometre road (Jalan Maharaja Lela) when I sighted a number of cars going in that direction.
Dried fish and other salted specimens for sale to visitors and local residents.
It turned out to be a random act of serendipity. At journey’s end, there was some kind of a mini carnival in full operation. Others might want to describe it as a local pasar malam.
At last, Jeram had sprung a wonderful surprise on us. Initially, I was afraid that Jeram might turn out to be as exciting as a lonely and slightly crooked coconut tree on a deserted beach.
There was an impressive number of families with children who were having a gala time. As expected, numerous stalls were selling all kinds of cockles, mussels and even some species of shellfish that are not seen in city wet markets.
A few stalls were also selling Siamese fighting fish in bottles and at least two stalls had little rabbits for sale, or what little children would call bunnies.
Several men were trying their luck with long fishing rods at the beach and colourful kites were on display to entice children who came with their mothers.
“Pantai Peranginan Pantai Remis” in the district of Kuala Selangor has turned out to be quite a delightful discovery. My early reservations about making a return visit evaporated in the air like the charcoal smoke from the stove tops where “ikan bakar” was taking place.
Pantai Remis is aptly named after the abundance of sea shells found on the two-kilometre stretch of beach where thousands of people make weekly visits for relaxation and sometimes even a bit of serenity.
Like everywhere else in this country, there are some places that are well hidden but they offer their precious jewels to those who will go that extra kilometre to catch that glimmer of paradise that lies just beyond the swaying palms.