A Cut above the Rest
The Bentong wet market is no ordinary market of late.
Tourists are making a beeline to the market in search of the famous Bentong ginger, ginger powder and soy sauce in particular.
Lai Yoke Wan from Seremban, for instance, has good reason to opt for the ginger and ginger powder.
“I heard about the Bentong ginger. The ginger powder comes in handy when I rush to cook lunch for my grandchildren so that they will not be late for school,: she said.
Yoke Wan, 66, was among some 40 members from Seremban’s Chi Hwa School Old Boys and Girds Association on a day trip to Bentong and surrounding areas recently.
Bentong, about 140km from Seremban, was their first stop.
Association chairman Chan Kok Sun, 58, said a tour company had recommended that they visit Bentong.
“We (members) had a meeting and decided to come here,” he said.
Lai Peck Har, who organized the trip, said she found Bentong town and the market a bustling place.
“This is our first stop today and we are all excited,” Said Peck Har.
The members who were waiting for the bus to go to their next stop were seen chatting happily, many of them seen carrying a plastic bag of the Bentong ginger.
A 45-year-old stall operator, Chan Kooi Keong, who is known as Ah Kam, Said there used to be only two or three ginger stalls in the market, but the number had ballooned to more than 20 since a year ago.
Ah Kam’s mother Wong Chow Ngo, 72, has been selling Bentong ginger in the Market for more than two decades.
Ah Kam Said he was working in Ipoh before he resigned a year ago to help his mother.
“Besides using ginger for cooking, people nowadays also take ginger for its many health benefits,” said Ah Kam before dishing out the many health benefits of Bentong ginger which he called “the poor man’s ginseng”.
The Ginger, he said, was grown in Bukit Tinggi near Bentong and priced at RM24 per kilogramme.
Ah Kam said the natural surroundings in Bukit Tinggi is conducive for ginger growing and that is why Bentong ginger is a cut above the rest.
Chow Ngo said her customers, including those from out of town, continued to buy the ginger because they could feel its good effects.
“It is good for blood circulation which is very important for health,” she said.
Chow Ngo said her husband, Chan Kok Heng, 82, also took ginger juice for health.
“People, especially the elderly, will not feel cold after consuming ginger drink” she added.
Tour guide YL Wong 34, said Bentong was a popular stop nowadays.
She listed ginger, soy sauce and “sat keh mah” (a Chinese dessert) as among Bentong’s most sought-after items by tourists.
Wong who bought half a kilogramme of ginger from Ah Kam, said she was getting it for a friend.
She said the Bentong stop had got increasingly popular since September, and she reckoned that the word-of-mouth advertising had also played an important role.
“We started from Seremban at 7am and our next stop is Raub,” said Wong of their trip’s itinerary.
A grocery stall at the market has the Bentong soy sauce with the “thumbs up” logo displayed prominently.
The trader, Lee Mok Sang, 45, attributed the surge in tourist arrivals to “Maju Bentong” – a project to promote the local places, products and delicacies.
It is a project by Bentong MP and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Like Lee, several other traders at the market were all praises for Liow for his efforts in making Bentong a better place for the people.
Besides ginger and soy sauce, Lee said the town was also famous for its kaya puff, tau fu pok (a type of deep-fried taufu) and ice cream.
He said the market was packed over weekends and public holidays and business was very good.
Lee, who has manned the stall for almost 20 years, said Bentong, surrounded by hills, is a cool and peaceful place.
Having stayed in Kuala Lumpur before returning to Bentong and set-tled down in 1995, Lee said living in the capital city was stressful.
He also forsee better times ahead for Bentong folk, citing the rise in tourist arrivals which brings more business opportunities especially to the restaurants and market traders as very good start.
- Bention wet market is a popular tourist destination.
- Bentong ginger, dubbed the poor man’s ginseng is a favourite purchase at the wet market.
- Lee at his stall at the Bentong wet market. He says sales are brisk on weekends and public holidays.