Recently I visited Penang for a 3D2N trip and I decided on my way back to stay in Taiping for a couple of nights. My friend Lay Chun picked me up from the station on arrival, late afternoon. She invited me for dinner in Matang. When we arrived at the Lemon Tree restaurant, I was surprised to find a large group already waiting for us. Lay Chun explained that a group of her friends was having regular gatherings and that my arrival coincided with one of those. I knew a few of them already , the atmosphere was pleasant and the food delicious. A good start of my visit.
The next day, early morning, my friends Henry Chan and Soon Lay picked me up from Furama hotel, for a day trip to caves and a waterfall in the Ipoh region. I have reported about this rewarding outing in a separate post: Two caves and a waterfall . Here three pictures to give you an impression.
The following day I finally met Syed Bakar ;-).
Taiping has two New Villages , Aulong and Pokok Assam, created around 1950 during the Malayan Emergency , to separate the villagers from the communist guerrillas in the jungle. With the help of my friends I have tried to find people who have been living in those villages and could tell me about life there, when the village was still fenced off with a gate and a curfew.
Last year I met a man who has been living in Aulong, but not from the beginning, click here (scroll down) to read more about it . Lay Chun suggested I should contact Syed Bakar, who has been living in Pokok Assam. I did, by phone and whatsapp, and it clicked immediately 🙂
But meeting him was not so easy, because, even at 83 years old, he is a busy man. An art teacher (formerly in Malay College), now still giving classes in Penang and Kota Kinabalu, often not at home.
This time he was at home and free to chat !
First I had breakfast, Chee Cheong Fun at Mr Tong’s shop. You have to be early, otherwise it is sold out.
I walked back to my hotel, where Syed picked me up and took me to Assam Kumbang where he is living now. I liked his place, full of paintings and books.
We chatted for several hours, he is a very good storyteller! He moved to Pokok Assam with his family in 1950 when he was a teenager. Life was not easy, they had to start building a house on the assigned plot of 90 x 45 feet, timber was not easy to obtain. I should have recorded our conversation 🙂
After our chat Syed drove me around in Pokok Assam. Of course a lot has changed, he pointed out a few houses that still are more or less original. The medical post is an abandoned ruin now. The last picture is of the house where he was born, outside Pokok Assam.
It would be a good idea for the Taiping Heritage Society to invite him to give a talk!
After this fascinating meeting, I went for lunch to Doli, a restaurant close to Furama, famous for its Malay Kuey Teow Goreng.
Walking back to my hotel, I passed this former cinema, abandoned already as long as I visit Taiping. I was wondering if it could be one of the Iversen cinemas If one of my readers has more info, please let me know.
I had a relaxed Sunday afternoon. The Lake Gardens, the Raintree Walk, the Playground, what else do you need to be happy?
Later I had dinner with my friend Amril. He is very knowledgeable about everything that is going on in Taiping 🙂 . Last year I visited the history gallery of St George’s, but did’t manage to visit the history gallery of King Edwards VII, see my report Taiping again. Amril told me that there are actually two history galleries in KEVII, one in the Primary school and one in the Secondary school! Just go to the office, explain your interest and ask permission to visit the gallery, he advised
And that’s what I did. Next morning, after breakfast with my friend Yeap at Lian Thong (yummy eggs on toast), he dropped me at KEVII .
First I went to the office of the Secondary school, very friendly people, Mr Siva went with me, opened the gallery (normally closed) and guided me around. He is an old Edwardian, has also been teaching there, and knows a lot about the school .
An interesting collection of various school paraphernalia and photos. For example a photo gallery of all the principals of the school. I took a picture of Mr Long’s photo , because I was planning to visit Mrs Long, who is a friend of mine.
Mr SIva presented me with a coffee table book, published in 2008, about the history of the school, from 1883 until 1983. Much appreciated!
From the Secondary school I walked to the Primary one, where the reception was equally friendly. Here it was Mr Fadzil, an art teacher who guided me around.
The first railway in Perak, from Port Weld to Taiping had its station at the present school grounds. When this station was moved to its present location, King Edwards was built. The most interesting exhibit in the gallery, was the collection of artefacts, discovered during construction of new halls, remnants of the railway.
The school was expecting other visitors from a teacher training college, students were busy cleaning and arranging trophies etc.
One picture for the album 😉
After my visit he joined me to the nearby Ansari Cendol where I had cendol and pasembor for lunch. We had a very pleasant conversation, about many different topics.
One of our topics was durian, the King of Fruits, which we both love. I don’t trust myself to buy them, so I was pleased when Mr Fadzil told me that he would join me, later in the afternoon, after he had picked up his kids from school.
We had kampung durian, very nice, and surprisingly cheap, I paid only RM 10 for a big durian !
Before walking back to my hotel I visited Mrs Long, showed her the photo of her late husband, and had a nice chat with her. She is a good story teller too!
After a short rest, I went out again to have dinner with my friend May Cheah. We went to the restaurant in the Shun Tak Association building. Good food and another pleasant chat.
My last day, time was going fast with all my “social” activities :-). My friend Halim had invited me for breakfast at his place, with Yeap. Both are committee members of the Taiping Heritage Society.
After breakfast Halim drove me around the town and showed me some places, he liked. Here we are at Austin Pool.
He brought me back to the hotel and after my check out, picked me up again to drop me at the station.
One reason that I feel so at ease in Taiping is the friendliness and hospitality of the Taipingites.