A MALAY friend once told me that "Melayu elit tinggal di Gombak!" If you take a drive along Jalan Gombak and you will disagree with his view that the Malay elites live in Gombak.
But drive beyond the main road and explore the housing estates like Taman Gombak Setia and you will see what he means. Is there "old money" ensconced in impressive bungalows on hill slopes, hidden from the main road?
Well, whatever. But going for a drive in Gombak will reveal some interesting facets of life there. As for Gombak's reputation as a destination for a short break, it's more than just a visit to the popular Orang Asli Museum.
Visitors can check out the beautiful mosques made of gleaming marble as well as those of aluminium that hark back to yesteryears.
Mosques And Suraus
Start your excursion along Jalan Setapak and turn left into Jalan Gombak. The twin minarets of Masjid Jamek Saad bin Abi Waqqas will greet you on the left after you whizz past Pasar Besar Gombak. Simplicity is the hallmark of this two-storey mosque.
A little further is the Masjid Al Zaid bin Haritsah at the 8th milestone. This unique structure features an umbrella-shaped dome or chatris, with a minaret rising from its facade. The minaret is crowned by a smaller umbrella-shaped cupola. The chatris was popular during the colonial era so the architect of the mosque had gone retro, perhaps in an effort to preserve the past.
A 60-year-old surau of historical significance is found at Batu 6. Made of aluminium and wood, it showcases a two-tiered roof, indicating its Javanese design. Next to the surau is Anjung Rahmat Inn, a budget hotel with a hall that is used for weddings and other functions.
Another 15 minutes of leisurely drive will bring you to the Masjid Al Sharif at Simpang 3, just after a traffic light. A four-storey structure, it boasts of a yellow main dome. The layout of this structure is not symmetrical, however, and features both lancet shaped and rectangular doorways.
Now, take a detour to Taman Sri Gombak to see another impressive mosque. The Masjid Al-Khairiyah faces a lake and stands on Jalan SG 7/1. The attention-grabber is its yellow main dome, and rectangular windows. At each corner of the structure is a smaller yellow dome.
|A touch of the Malay Old World still exists in Gombak as seen in this beautiful traditional house.
The commercial hub of Gombak is Plaza Idaman and the adjoining Kompleks Idaman. Located on Jalan 5/21D, off Jalan Gombak, Plaza Idaman is a haven for women seeking traditional beauty treatments and Malay clothing.
On the ground floor, Emaras Spa and Beauty Tradisi Wanita offer lulur badan, sauna, aromatherapy, mandi susu/rempah and spa tangan dan kaki.
At Qistina Beauty Spa, pakaian langsing (slimming wrap), and beauty sets such as Set Penyeri, Set Jeragat, Set Jerawat, Set Redung are best sellers.
A myriad of beauty products is sold at other beauty centres such as R-Zac Kosmetik and Kedai Kosmetik & Jamu Tradisional.
Located on the second floor, Aseana Impian impresses with its eye-catching handbags, selendang and Cambodian and Vietnamese silk. For a wide choice of baju kurung and selendang, go to ZZ Ziela Collection, Busana Iman and Butik Aishah.
Food is another strong point. Restoran D'Gerisik serves excellent nasi campur, tomyam and seafood. For frozen food, pop over to Iwani. Take your pick from karipap lada hitam, roti bom, popiah otak otak and cendawan goreng. Cooked items are also on sale.
In Kompleks Idaman, there are stores selling car accessories, hardware, shoes, and cellular phones. Of interest is Barekat Supermarket which stocks products from the Middle East like Arabic sweets, jams, olive oil, pickled vine leaf, date honey (it's different from honey obtained from bees) and non-alcoholic malt beverages.
I tried a bottle of UAE-manufactured Apple Barbican Malt at RM2.60. (Other flavours available are strawberry, raspberry, pineapple and lemon.) Slightly frothy and thick, it was excellent. This prompted me to try a can of Fayrouz Sparking Malt Beverage at RM2.80. It was a great thirst quencher.
Another similar store is Kedai Runcit Arab, opposite the Gombak Post Office. Good buys here are Egyptian cookies with fillings of dates and figs, bread sticks and Arab bread, which looks like chapatti to me. This store is operated by an Iraqi while the Barekat Supermarket is owned by an Iranian.
At Kompleks Idaman are a dental clinic and a medical clinic run by Muslim women. Pusat Kecantikan Hasnah and Spa offer mandi susu/bunga/lulur, sauna herba and urut aromatherapy.
For 24-hour dining, Restoran Afrose serves murtabak, roti naan, tom yam and soups. To savour briyani and chicken tandoori, pop over to Restoran Nasi Kandar Ar-Ridhwan.
|Masjid Al Zaid bin Haritsah incorporates an umbrella-shaped dome.
Orang Asli Museum
On the way to the Orang Asli Museum, you'll find an interesting diversion at Batu 9 - stop at a signboard that reads Barakaff Batik. Here, you can choose between hand-painted batik and tjanting pieces.
Further on, the scenery along Kampung Sungei Salak is quite picturesque, with the gushing river running parallel to the road. Several spots along the riverbank are excellent for picnics.
Another attraction here is a warung with half a dozen eateries that open only at night to offer tomyam, nasi campur, satay and soup.
The Orang Asli Museum is a multi-tiered pitched roofed building standing on elevated grounds. The Hunting Equipment gallery is the most interesting. Blowpipes, booby traps, bamboo spears, poisonous roots and machetes are among the eye-catching exhibits.
The attention-grabber in the Clothes & Costumes section is wood-pulp clothing. Other items showcased are personal ornaments such as necklaces and hair combs made of bone and horn. The Sculpture section illustrates the carving skills of the Orang Asli. Finally, the Music Instruments section features a variety of instruments made from wood, bamboo, animal skin and brass.