PLUS expressways has many rest areas
to take a break from your
travel destination
journey to Cameron Highlands

 The Tapah rest area is typical of the many lay-bys along the north-south PLUS expressway which you can take a break from your long weary journey.

Several days ago, I received query from a reader who was planning her first travel destination trip to Cameron Highlands. She wanted to plan for the perfect trip and to take precaution against any problem that she might encounter. Many email messages with questions and replies was exchanged. Granted that for a first time traveler, the trip can be daunting and possibly stressful too with many things to consider like which hotel to stay, where to go for sight seeing, how long it takes to drive to your travel destinations, what kind of road condition and climate to expect.

The query was rather lengthy, but I guess as a frequent PLUS expressway user, what we all take for granted when we travel it was something completely unknown to a newbie.

I still can remember my first outstation trip while doing sales for my company over fifteen years ago, being raw and fresh out of tertiary education, I had many things to learn about driving between cities and towns. In those days, the road condition was much worse than today's two to three lane expressways. They called it the trunk road which still exist today connecting from small town to small town finally reaching your destination like the main town of Ipoh or Penang. It takes many hours of hard driving and you really need good driving skill and good judgment to overtake big huge lorries laden with goods on the road traveling at snails pace.

Your heart will skip a beat and with bated breath as you overtake another slower vehicle while oncoming traffic is heading your way on a collision course! Those were the days traveling between the major towns. You still do face this kind of situation the moment you slip out of the tolled expressway and make your journey onwards to Cameron Highlands. Thankfully the traffic is much lighter than that of the trunk roads, however good driving skill and good judgment is still required to overtake slower vehicles on a winding road.

For those of you who are driving long distance from way down south of Singapore or way up north from Perlis, the easy drive of expressway does pose another problem that of drowsiness and tiredness. The droning sound of engine will lull your senses and makes one sleepy. You could try taking a break along the many lay-by, R&R stops along the highway and catch a quick z or take a breath of fresh air and go for a quick walk provided the lay-bys has some nice path for you to explore; or look out for those bigger R&R areas where eateries abound and perhaps get a nice cup of coffee to boost up your caffeine in your system!

Try taking a break at a Vista Point and climb up the steep stairs to have a majestic view of the highway and surroundings!

For those who are not familiar with the PLUS North-South Expressway, let me show you some interesting destination stops which you might consider taking a break.

The PLUS highway has many lay-bys located about every 25km to 50km apart. These are simple rest area with basic facilities for toilet breaks and simple shelters sufficient for short breaks.

The fully equipped and well maintained R&R stops which the PLUS Company calls it as RSA (Rest and Service Areas) are a good place to make a full pit stop. Here you can recharge yourself with the various stalls offering food and drinks. Some R&R has mini children playground for kids that has boundless energy to spend despite the long tiring journey. "Surau" or prayer rooms are provided for the Muslim to conduct their daily prayers. And the washrooms are well equipped and some even has a shower area.

One of my favourite and most notable R&R areas to drop by is the Tapah RSA either northbound or southbound. The duration of driving from Kuala Lumpur of about one hour or so makes it the perfect place to take a break. Since this is located in Perak, where the famous white coffee was originated, you can get yourself a cup of white coffee at the drink stall. Of course it still pales in comparison with those old style coffee shops in Ipoh, but this is closest you can get without coming out of the highway and entering Ipoh city.

There are many fruit stalls in the Tapah rest area, pick your choice of guavas and jambu air!

For the southbound Tapah RSA, they have completely renovated the fruit stalls using Balinese style decoration. Though you could still see the abandoned huts as you enter the RSA, the renovated fruit stalls are much nicer looking and gives the place a better feel. It is rather refreshing to walk along the corridor and feel an air of relaxation from the Balinese style décor as you browse the various fruit stalls selling seedless guavas, jambu air, and other local fruits. My wife never fails to buy back some guavas and jambu air. Care for an ice-cream to cool off from the hot highway heat? Then head on over to Baskin Robbins just opposite the fruit stalls.

Not every R&R RSA has fruit stalls. And each RSA fruit stalls have different fruits to offer. So far those that I have frequented and found to have fruit sellers include Gunung Semanggol and Sungai Perak. Gunung Semanggol fruit stalls are located in hut like shelters while the Sungai Perak resembles an open market. The fruits sold are quite juicy and prices are comparable.

There are many fruit stalls in the Tapah rest area, pick your choice of guavas and jambu air!

However for variety of fruits Sungai Perak has the most though this RSA is rather small in comparison. Perhaps their market style way of selling fruits meant the fruit seller has more space to display their fruits.

One of the more interesting concepts along the expressway is the Overhead Bridge Restaurants (OBR). There are two main OBR, one is located in Ayer Keroh, Melaka and the other is at Sungai Buloh, Selangor. The structure is build over the expressway and filled with many restaurants. Fast food outlets like Kentucky Fried Chicken are rather popular and gets crowded on peak holiday season and of course you have the usual "warung" stalls providing nasi lemak and other local fare. Most patrons vie for the restaurant in the center of the bridge because they can watch the vehicles zoom by in the comfort of air condition while having a hearty meal at the same time.

So far I've been talking about rest area and food, and more food. Enough of food. How about some exercise instead? Filling your stomach with food may pump up your sugar content and boost your energy levels, but it might also make you sleepy on a hot afternoon as the blood flows from your brain to your stomach area giving you less concentration to drive. There is nothing much to look at in the RSA or OBR, but if you happen to come across some rest areas which the PLUS company calls it Vista point do give it a go. There are three Vista points along the highway. One is located in Ipoh northbound just before the tunnel. The other two is located in Pedas Linggi, northbound and southbound somewhere in Negeri Sembilan.

It is a good place to take a break as they have a magnificent view of the expressway and surrounding area. Don't be daunted by the steep climb up the stairs in the Pedas Linggi Vista point. It is well worth the effort as you rest your weary eyes with the majestic panoramic landscape. There is a simple little shelter there which you can sit and munch your tidbits as you take a rest. The shelter is a little run down with graffiti drawn by irresponsible picnickers. Nevertheless still sufficient to just sit down and rest for awhile. Ah, the simple pleasures in life. Oh, by the way, do watch out for nature. Since the Vista point is not often frequented by people you might spot a creature scuttling around the area. Once, there was a shy little snake taking refuge at the shelter. It was a long pencil thin green coloured snake peeking out from between the seats, spying on me while I was making my way towards the shelter. I spotted the little fella and it was looking at me cautiously. It sled between the seats a couple of times and each time it stick out is head to look at me. Thank goodness it decided it didn't want company and went away into the foliage and left me quite literally alone.

Gunung Tempurung southbound lay-by is small but has some unique scenery.

Here's an interesting lay by stop which you might want to consider to rest your weary soul. South bound from Simpang Pulai on the way up the hill, the Gunung Tempurung lay-by can be easily missed as the entrance is not very prominent. In terms of facility, there is nothing much here except the usual washroom and simple shelter. However, if you do explore the area, you will find a stream nearby the shelter. The sound of running waters is soothing and provides a refreshing diversion. The children may like to splash about for awhile and stir up the water a little. The place is a little quiet due to its hidden prominence in comparison with the other lay-bys.

With a well maintain expressway with plenty of R&R stops to take a break from your long journey, this is a far cry from yesteryears traveling on trunk roads. The ease of driving plus the facilities provided makes the journey enjoyable if not a breeze when you make your way to Cameron Highlands your ultimate travel destination.


For more information, head on to PLUS expressway website.

Posted on 17-July-2007

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