Taiping, my 2nd hometown

The last time I visited Taiping was during CNY 2016 , before my trip to the Netherlands. As I was missing what I jokingly call my 2nd home town, I went back last week, staying with my friends George and Jenny. We started from KL on the first day of Ramadan, not much traffic and the Tapah R&R was almost deserted.

We had lunch in the Taiping Old Railway Station, Assam Laksa and Cendol, delicious.

The Old Railway Station is located next to the modern one and is now part of the Taiping Heritage. Quite nice, don’t know who is responsible for its “renovation”, but a few eateries are operating there now, and there is a small Heritage Gallery.

One “historical” mistake struck me, the signboard says that this old station dates back to 1885. But that is not true. Yes, the first railway in Malaya was built in 1885, from Port Weld (Kuala Sepetang) to Taiping, but the Taiping station was where now King Edwards School is!  Only about a decade later,the “old” station was relocated to where it is now.

We had a look at the gallery and met the young, dynamic, manager, Soo Mei Chong, who with her sister, recently started a cafe, the January Cafe,  next to the gallery. Both gallery and cafe worth a visit.

After our lunch we passed the Rest House, another one of Taiping’s “firsts” and for many years already in a deplorable condition. Recently this eyesore had been protected by a decorative fence, illustrating the many “firsts” of Taiping (the Rest House actually being one of them..lol).

I was quite shocked to see the present condition of the fence and immediately published this picture on the Whatsapp of the Taiping Heritage Society, with a caption: Taiping Warisan?

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We had also a look at what was originally Anuar Isa’s  First Galleria, a failed project, now taken over by the MPT town council. I could enter, although it was not yet open to the public. The friendly Malay staff could not tell me much about the MPT plans. Here a few pictures of posters. Look at the prices for the planned “Hop on Hop off” bus. Another failed project in the making?

A few weeks ago the Taiping Heritage Society , had organised an event to plant new flowers around the “Peace park” in the Taiping Lake Gardens. In the afternoon George and I went there to see how it looked now. A few of the newly planted flowers had  perished already. A very Malaysian problem, how to maintain a project…

Actually the Taiping Lake Gardens could become a no 1 tourist attraction of Malaysia! BUT maintenance is needed. Instead of spending money (cronyism? ) for ugly warning signs, some of the existing landmarks could have been repaired. In the past the pillars were connected with planks, supporting colorful vegetation. And the “monument” was originally supported by Japanese Sanyo, with a digital clock, powered by solar cells on top of the structure. Sanyo was taken over by Panasonic and the monument is now a sad and sorry sight.

I had dinner  that night with my friend May, nice Indian food in Siang Malam. She told me that  a shop opposite Taiping General Hospital served a good curry mee, so the next morning George and I had our breakfast there. She was right, very nice food, a pity that the shop will close end of this year. As I forgot to take a picture of the shop, I had to use Streetview in Google Maps…:-)

What to do after breakfast? I suggested to make a short trip to Batu Kurau, north of Taiping. It is nice countryside with padi fields, limestone caves, small kampungs. Years ago I had discovered a quaint barbershop near Anak Kurau, built against a cliff. I had a haircut there for a few Ringgit and during later Taiping trips I had gone back a few times. I had left my GPS at home, so we got lost a bit and had to ask directions for “a barbershop built against a cliff”. Surprisingly everybody immediately know what we were talking about!

But the shop was closed, probably because of Ramadan. Nearby the shop there is a small cafe, also closed and a cave with nice stalactites. The footpath along the stream was new, but it ended after  a few hundred meters. Fascinating to see how the trees struggle for survival. The road continues for a few km and ends at a resort (also closed).

The resort is located next to a small stream with crystal clear water. There could well be a waterfall further upstream.

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After driving back to Taiping, we had lunch at Duncan’s Cafe. Duncan Raj is a THS-member and has recently opened this cafe as part of a boutique hotel, Maxwell Inn. I hope he will succeed as the location on Jalan Taming Sari, is a bit far outside the town center.

The THS has an active Whatsapp, where I uploaded the picture to the left, after we arrived. Not much later a few more guests came in, also THS-members…:-)  They were planning to have lunch in another shop nearby, when they received the picture, so they came over to meet me. Taiping really feels like my 2nd hometown!

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In the afternoon I (re)visited the Kota Long Jaafar in Bukit Gantang, with George, Suet and her husband Peter. Suet is a member of THS and very interested in the history of Taiping. She is a friend of George and we had met the night before in Siang Malam.

It turned out that we are both fans of Isabella Bird! This intrepid English traveler has been traveling from Taiping to Kuala Kangsar, February 1880. She had to wait in Long Jaafar’s fort until the elephants arrived who would carry her to Kuala Kangsar. Read her letter XX and enjoy. Actually she made a mistake in that letter, the KOta is not in Matang but in Gantang…:-)

Not much is left of the fort, except graves with tombstones. When I first “discovered” it, in 2014, it was  ruined. Surprisingly (?), this time, it looked much better. No idea who was responsible for the renovation.

One more  example to show how small the Taiping world is…:-) Amril is another THS member, very knowledgeable about Taiping’s history and actually a descendant of Long Jaafar. I had asked him to join us to the Kota Long Jaafar, but he was busy. After our visit we wanted to have a drink, but this is a Malay region, most shops are closed. We tried our luck at Changkat Jering, where we had a look at the busy Pasar Ramadan and finally found a mamak stall that was open.

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Having our drinks there, I got a Whatsapp message from……… Amril! He had a stall at the Pasar and had seen us passing. On our way back to the car, we met him and had a chat. Looking forward to meet him after Hari Raya.

It was only a short visit, the next day I had to go back home already. After George and I had breakfast at the Casual Market, his favourite joint, we visited Taiping’s Central Market. I have been in Taping so many times, but never explored this heritage site. Fascinating, dating back to 1884 (Old Market, on the far end in the picture below) and 1885 (New Market, in the foreground). In between Siang Malam, now another popular joint, but originally meant to provide the market workers with drinks and food.

There are plans to relocate the markets to a new location and transform the old markets into something similar to KL Central Market, a tourist attraction. Heaven forbid…

Taiping markets

To the left the New Market, right picture shows the Old Market

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Fascinating architecture. I hope THS will fight to preserve these Taiping.landmarks!

Originally I was planning to drive back to PJ after my market visit. I was aware that an Australian War Veteran music band was going to perform in the New Club, but I thought it was during the evening. Actually it was a lunch concert so I decided to attend the concert.

That gave me an opportunity to bring Yeap, the president of THS in contact with Soo Mei Chong,  the manager of the January Cafe in the Old Railway Station…:-). She looks so petite between the two giants :-)! We had nice coffee there..

On our way to the New Club, we passed the Rest House, and, lo and behold, the torn banner had been repaired! Miracles do happen…:-)

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In the New Club a big crowd was waiting for the concert. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) veteran band was on a short tour of Malaysia, giving concerts in Taiping, Ipoh and Batu Gajah. I would have liked to attend the Batu Gajah concert in God’s Little Acre. Every year on the 2nd Saturday in June a memorial is held at this cemetery to commemorate the victims of the Malayan Emergency, quite a few of them were Australians. But I was not free that Saturday, and this concert was a pleasant alternative.

The RAN Veteran Band

RAN Veteran Band

They played well. Two more pictures. The left one shows that the players may be veterans, but they know how to use modern technology! The trombone player is using a tablet for the musical scores, instead of printed sheet music….:-)

The right picture shows two happy French horn players. Paul Baker, to the right, played as a guest in the band. He is the composer of the Taiping Suite

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Here is a short video of the concert.

Taiping, my 2nd hometown…:-). Looking forward to come back soon

Journal 1-9-2014

Time flies. My last journal was published seven weeks ago, just after I came back to Malaysia. After recovering from jet lag (not so difficult this time), I settled down in my usual routine. A morning walk in Bukit Kiara followed by breakfast (RM 1 only!) at IKEA. Spending a lot of time with my laptop, actually too much, especially now that I have become addicted to acomputer game called  Hay Day  🙁

But of course also quite a lot of social activities, like meeting friends and enjoying food. Here is a selection of (food) pictures.

Soon after I was back home and acclimatised, the urge came to visit a waterfall. So I eagerly accepted my friend Siang Hui’s invitation for a recce to a remote waterfall in the Semenyih region. It would be a long hike, we had to leave early. Three of us, my friend Teoh also joined. Maybe because I did not sleep well the night before, but after about one hour on our way, I did not feel well, a tight feeling in my chest. After a discussion with my friends, we decided to go back.

I was worried (and not only I…haha), so I made an appointment with my cardiologist for an echo and a stress test. I could see him only after Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan), so I kept quiet a bit for a while.  Quite relieved when the results were ok!

With Hari Raya we visited Aric’s hometown. It is an old Malay custom to fire impressive coconut palm canons, celebrating the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festival. And impressive it was, I was worried for a while that it might affect my hearing. I wrote a separate blog about it: Boom Boom!!

Hari Raya

After I had received my clean bill of health, I was looking forward to meet Akke and Pim and show them a few nice places in my 2nd home…-).  Akke is the daughter of friend of mine, who, with her future husband, was traveling in Malaysia. We visited the Kanching waterfalls and the Batu Caves and completed it with a delicious dinner, prepared by Aric.

Here are a few recent pictures of Bukit Kiara, where I have my daily exercise. I have written many blog posts about it, you can find them here . I am quite pessimistic about its future, JLN (the National Landscape Department) is trying to transform it into a concentration camp, including barbed wire fencing ..:-(  But still beautiful, along the budding Penchala river I have hidden another of my geocaches.

I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society. I joined them in May on a trip to Lenggong. A few weeks ago they organised a members night and asked me to give short talk about this trip. Here are some pictures. I had prepared too much material for my talk, so I have published this material in a separate blog post  Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

On my way back from Taiping, I decided to stop at Pos Dipang to meet my Orang Asli friend Jinnah and his family. Recently he has been our guide to the spectacular Pos Dipang waterfalls.Very nice people. They belong to the Semai tribe, my Bahasa (Malay language) is bad, but we could communicate quite well in broken English.

Jinnah & family

To end this journal, a few pictures of a trip made with Aric to a Hot Springs near Bentong. I had passed the place before several times, the hot springs were not well maintained. But now some renovation had taken place, itr looked a lot better. The water was not too hot and you could use the mud from the bottom to scrub your skin…:-)

 

Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

In May the Taiping Heritage society has organised a trip to the Lenggong valley, see my blog THS excursion . Last week THS organised a members night and they had asked me to give a talk about the trip. Preparing for my talk, I  collected a lot of information from the Internet, but I had not enough time to present everything in my talk…:-) That is the reason for this post.

In 2012 the Lenggong valley was declared a Unesco world heritage site, because of the many archaeological discoveries made during the last decades. Most notably, the discovery in 1991 of the Perak Man, a well preserved skeleton, dating back to ~ 11.000 BP where BP stands for Before Present and Present is defined as 1-1-1950. In Geology and Archaeology  BP has replaced BC (Before Christ) and the politically correct BCE (Before Common Era)

Here is a GE map of the Lenggong region with the location of the various archaeological sites (click to enlarge). The mighty Perak river is clearly visible. The green track is from a trip made in 2007 with my friend Liz Price, Caves and Waterfalls Google Earth Map

Some comments about the various locations.

The skeleton of the Perak Man has been found in the Gua Gunung Runtuh. It is now exhibited in the Lenggong Museum. The Gunung Runtuh cave is at the moment closed to the public, but in 2007 we could still enter the cave after a steep climb..:-)  The skeleton was originally surrounded by grave gifts, in the museum now it is surrounded by high-tech gadgets to control humidity, etc!

In 2004 another skeleton has been found in the nearby Gua Teluk Kelawar, now called the Perak Woman, dated ~ 8000 BP. I will not be surprised if more discoveries will be made in the future. Because it is clear that this region around the Perak river has been very suitable for human habitation throughout the ages! Limestone caves for shelter, a river (in the past a lake) nearby, etc

The other archaeological sites in the Lenggong valley have until now only shown evidence of human activity in the form of tools and “tool shops”, where these tools were manufactured.

The oldest of these sites is Bukit Jawa,  a palaeolithic tool workshop site on the shores of an island in a lake now long ago disappeared. About 200.000-300.000 years ago. Who made those tools? This is before our species, Homo Sapiens sapiens, started the emigration out of Africa. We will only know when fossil remains of hominins are found. We visited Bukit Jawa in 2007, there is not much to see.Bukit Jawa Bukit Jawa

The toolshops at Kota Tampan are younger, about 70.000 year old. Also here no fossils of human remains have been found, but it is quite possible that the people making these tools, belonged to our species (see below). Activity in these workshops came to an abrupt end when the Toba volcano erupted, Kota Tampan tools have been found covered wit the thick layers of ash. At the Kota Tampan location the Lenggong Museum has been built.

Next in age are the toolshops at Bukit Bunuh, about 40.000 years old. Followed by the two caves where the Perak Man and Woman were found.

Much younger, about 4000-3000 BP are the graves found in Gua Harimau. And in the nearby Gua Badak, rock paintings have been found, made by the Negrito Orang Asli. Very recent, maybe only 100 year old. But interesting as rock paintings are rare in Malaysia

Altogether an impressive collection of archaeological sites, hopefully they will be preserved well after being declared a World Heritage Site.

Human migration, Out of Sundaland ?

It is about 200.000 years ago that our species, homo sapiens sapiens evolved in Africa. All humans, living these days, have a common ancestor, both in the maternal line (Mitochondrial Eve) and the paternal one (Y-chromosomal Adam). Between 95.000 and 75.000 year ago one of their descendants (Eurasian Adam), started to migrate to Europa and Asia. By analysing the mutations in the DNA of the Y-chromosome of present humans, it is possible to get an idea about the migration route followed by the ancestors.

A few years ago both Aric and I had our DNA analysed (by the Genographic Project). Here is the route followed by our (paternal) ancestor. Our routes split about 35.000 year ago, in what is now called Tajikistan. My line developing into a Caucasian, Aric’s line into a Chinese…:-) See my blog My ancestors for more information about this fascinating topic. Our ancestor

What has this to do with Lenggong, you may ask. Well, the theory of human migration is still a developing theory, with many variations. In the prevalent version, humans migrated to South East Asia from around Taiwan, going south. An alternative option is that  the migrants followed more or less the coastal line, via India, arriving in Sundaland, from there spreading in northern direction

migration

Sundaland? Yes, in the period we are talking about, the world was in what is called the Ice Age. The huge amount of ice covering the Arctic and Antarctic resulted in very low sea levels, more than 100 meter lower than nowadays. Present day Sumatra, Borneo, Malaysia formed one land mass, called Sundaland Sundaland

In the map above, the location of the Toba eruption is indicated. This dismal eruption and the following volcanic winter may have had a dramatic effect on the still very small global homo sapiens population, killing most of them and causing what is called a genetic bottleneck It is estimated that the global population of our species at that time was no more  than 10.000 – 20.000! It certainly stopped the operation of the Kota Tampan tool shops. But the people living there may have survived in small numbers, because the prevailing winds were westwards. Could it be that after the Toba eruption, further migration took place out of Sundaland?

A fascinating, though rather controversial theory, proposed by the British geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer. No surprise that USM, responsible for much of the archealogical research in the Lenggong valley, is quite happy with this theory.  Malaysia as the cradle of humanity!

A meteorite impact at Bukit Bunuh

In 2009 USM announced a spectacular discovery at  Bukit Bunuh. At this location many boulders were found of a very special material, called suevite. Suevite can be formed when a meteorite collides with the earth. The ages of these rocks, using fission track dating, has been determined as 1.8 ± 0.6 million year. There are indications of circular craters in the Bukit Bunuh region, so it could well be that between 1.2 and 2.4 million year ago a meteorite has hit here. In itself already an interesting discovery. It became spectacular when in 2007 a hand-axe was found, embedded in a suevite boulder. Meaning that around the time of impact, 1.8 million year ago, hominins were already living at Bukit Bunuh! Here is a newspaper article about the discovery: Early axes found in Perak. The picture shows  Dr Mokhtar Saidin, holding up the axe. Prof Mokhtar

After the jubilant announcement in the media, now already five years ago, it has become disturbingly quiet. I have not been able to find any reference on the Internet to a scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The meteorite impact was supposed to be registered at the Earth Impact Database, but that too has not yet happened. In interviews an age of 1.83 million year is mentioned, without giving the error margin of 0.6 million year, which is scientifically bad practice. Here is a typical example: Interview with Dr. Mokhtar Saidin

Honestly, I have my doubts. Here are a few more links, in case you are interested

Bukit Bunuh, oldest Paleolithic site , quote:  “There should be on-going research to get a true picture of the people who settled in this area since 1.83 million years ago and this can change several theories about the Paleolithic people such as the nomadic theory and movement of prehistoric man.

USM Discovers Concrete Evidence That Can Chance (sic!) The History Of Early Man

THS excursion

When you have been following my Stuif’s adventures, you know that Taiping is my favourite town in Malaysia. So it is not surprising that I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society (THS). Recently they organised a day trip to the Lenggong region and I decided to join. Actually I had visited most of the attractions on the program already, but it was a good opportunity to get to know more THS members…:-)

Departure was at 7 am from the Taiping Tesco. About 40 members took part in the trip, so a bus was chartered for the transport. After signing an indemnity form, we received our seat number and off we went. (click on a picture to enlarge it)

Meeting at Tesco

Signing an indemnity form

Ready to go

The first stop was at Lenggong town for a dim sum breakfast. Next we went to the Lenggong Archeological Museum, where we were welcomed by the Assistant Curator, Puan Nuraidah. We watched a nice, well-made documentary about the archaeology of the Lenggong valley, where in 1991 an 11.000 year old skeleton was found in one of the many limestone caves. Now known as the Perak Man. During my earlier visit of the museum, only a copy of the skeleton was shown, but in 2012 the Lenggong Valley was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and just a few months ago, the original skeleton has been brought back to the museum.

When the museum was built, an artificial cave was created for the (copy of the) Perak Man. Now it is still there, but half in the dark, while the original has been placed in the same cave. A rather messy layout, hopefully temporary. When the Perak Man died, his grave will have been decorated by burial gifts. Now his skeleton is surrounded by modern technology. He would have been very surprised if he had known..:-)

The Perak Man

Originally the plan was to visit the Gua Runtuh, where the skeleton was found, but it is out of bounds now, probably will become a tourist attraction. When I visited the caves in 2007, you still could enter freely, although after a stiff climb. Here is a picture from my archive.

Gua Runtuh

Instead we visited another cave, the Gua Tok Giring, near Lenggong. To enter the cave you need proper equipment, so we just had a look at the outside, while our guide Neal was giving information about various aspects of caves.

Then it was time for lunch. Lenggong is well-known  for its freshwater fish restaurants and the famous fish balls. THS had booked an eight-course lunch, organiser Sharon had warned us that there were six fish balls for each of us, three fried, three in the soup…:-) Of course we obeyed her! The food was plenty and delicious.

Our next destination was the Kekabu waterfall, between Lenggong and Kuala Kangsar. The experienced bus driver managed to manoeuvre the bus to the parking near the waterfall, from where it was an easy walk to the falls. Unfortunately the hanging bridge crossing the river had collapsed. Only a few daredevils managed to reach the other side.

After the waterfall we proceeded to Sayong, a small village near Kuala Kangsar, famous for its pottery, the Labu Sayong. Here too our driver had to prove his expertise, because the factory was located deep in the countryside. We got an interesting demonstration how to decorate the pottery, for many in the group this was the highlight of the trip.

The way the guy was decorating the pot in a free style, was really remarkable.Here is a short video

Then it was time for tea, in a restaurant in Kuala Kangsar. The Ipoh Chee Cheong Fun was delicious, but the coffee….  Never in Malaysia (or even in my life…) I have had lousier coffee…:-)

The last item on the program was a visit of Kuala Kangsar, with the beautiful Ubudiah mosque and the Istana Kenangan but everybody was getting tired after a long day, so we had only a look at them from the bus….:-)

We arrived back in Taiping at 6:00 pm.  A well organised trip, looking forward to the next one. Nice group of people. What especially pleased me, as a Kwai Loh, was the racial harmony, nowadays often lacking in Malaysia.

 

Journal 6-11-2013

Back in my second home for almost three weeks already. How time flies. This time I suffered less from jet lag, maybe because I used Melatonin the first week. Melatonin is supposed to adjust your biological clock.

Melatonin

In earlier posts you have read that we are collecting KLM-houses. We bought many during our last visit, here is part of it. Next to it a sad picture of the present view from our balcony. The destruction of Bukit Lanjan has not stopped.

KLM-houses

View from our balcony

 

After two months of Western food I was craving for Nasi Lemak, Hokkien Mee (picture), Roti Chanai etc. But in the fridge there was still a smoked sausage (“rookworst”), so we had also a Western meal, with Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes..

Hokkien Mee

Sausage & Sauerkraut

After a few days of recovery I started walking again in Bukit Kiara. It is still under threat of “development”, but walking there remains a pleasure. Instead of completing the atrocious fence, the authorities should concentrate on maintenance. Personally I don’t mind the “illegal” rubber tappers, but the neglected signboard for the Sg Penchala is an eyesore.

When Aric was back in Sabak Bernam he sent me a picture of a beautiful bird, found in his mum’s garden. With a broken wing. For my birding friend Khong it was no problem to id the bird: an uncommon Black-backed Kingfisher

Black-backed kingfisher

Aric took it back to KL, then a friend brought the tiny(!) bird to a bird doctor in Shah Alam. But the bird was too weak, it died. Pity.

After recovering from the flight, as usual came the craving for jungle and a waterfall…:-) I found Paul and Rahim willing to join me to a remote waterfall in the Tanjung Malim region, the Gerehang fall. Not many people visit this fall, Rahim had to do a lot of chopping to clear a trail.

Gerehang fall

During our hike of about 5 hours we did not meet a single soul. When we arrived it started to rain for a while, but after the shower, the sun came through again, so we had coffee and our lunch. Unfortunately, with the sun came also the sweat bees, many of them, and with (or because of?) all my precautions, I got stung again. A tiny sting in my finger, but it resulted in a swelling of my hand that lasted for more than one day. I did not have to use my Epipen, but it was worrying. Maybe I must stop going to remote places in the jungle. Here are some more pictures.

Last weekend it was Deepavali, the Hindu festival of light. In the Ikana/Ikea shopping center, a beautiful, elaborate, kolam was created.

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I spent the weekend in Taiping with my friends George and Jenny. Of course we visited the Lake Gardens, but also the ruins of the New Rest House. With May, another friend, I attended a delicious Deepavali lunch, offered by her Indian friends. I also took part in the Kathina festival, see my separate post. Here are some Taiping pictures

Malaysia, my 2nd home, full of variety

 

The Kathina festival 2013

During the rainy season (Vassa), Theravada Buddhist monks don’t travel and are going on retreat in a temple or monastery. When the rainy season is over, traditionally in October/November, the end of this 3-month retreat is celebrated during the Kathina festival.

The (legendary?) background of this festival is so interesting that I can not resist the temptation to tell you a bit about it.

A group of bhikkhus (monks) was on its way to the Buddha, when the rainy season started. Not to damage the harvest, living creatures (and themselves), they decided to stay where they were, although unhappy about the delay. After the rains stopped, they continued their travel. When they reached the Buddha, to console them, gave them a piece of cloth to stitch a robe. To stitch a robe, you need a frame, which is called a kathina. A detailed account can be found here

Nowadays the devotees offer this cloth (and other items) to the monks during the Kathina ceremony. This ceremony takes place in many locations in Malaysia, but is especially popular in Taiping, in the Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary. I have visited this beautiful, quiet sanctuary on the slopes of Maxwell Hill quite a few times.This time it was still beautiful, but not quiet with a few thousand visitors.

Entrance of the Sanctuary

Many visitors

We went up early Sunday morning, as Jenny was a volunteer at one of the many food stalls. Food stalls, yes, because this is Malaysia, no celebration without food…:-)  Probably many visitors mainly came for the free food.

The Kathina procedure is as follows: the monks (this time there were seventeen plus three nuns) walk along the long row of devotees, who put a bit of rice in the alms bowl of each monk. They then proceed to their seats, where the robes and other items are given to them. One of the monks then gives a talk. It is finished around noon. Officially the cloth has to be sown into robes before the end of the day, but I don’t know if that is still the case nowadays. Here are pictures of the event.

The event was organised very well, one organiser told me there were about 400 volunteers! On our way down, we passed one of the buildings of the sanctuary. This may be where the cloth is sown into robes, as I found a picture on the Internet, which seems to be taken inside this attractive building.

One of the buildings Sowing the robes

 

This was the second time I attended Kathina, it will hopefully not be the last one.

 

Journal 8-6-2013

A long post with a variety of topics.

One of Aric’s cousins got a baby recently and she and her husband invited us for lunch in the Fitou Brasserie (Desa Park city). Good Western food. Long time ago that I had a Rack of Lamb!

Lunch with Param

In my last post I have written already about my Wesak celebration in Taiping. As it had been some time ago since I visited my “hometown”, of course I had to enjoy the food! My friend George always knows new places to try out. This time we started with a dinner at the New Club, where the food is not that special, but the ambiance is nice. In the picture below you see also a dim sum breakfast, chicken/duck/pork rice and dumpling noodles.

Taiping food

We visited Kuala Sepetang, walked around in the fishing village, and went to the Matang mangrove forest, where we looked for birds, but we were not successful, as we were quite late.

Kuala Sepetang

And of course we visited the Lake Gardens. The most beautiful park of Malaysia. Early morning, in the afternoon, always fascinating. Here we saw more birds, a pair of hornbills, dollarbirds. Of course flowers. And quite a few couples, taking wedding pictures..:-)

George came with me on our way back home. After earlier “scary” adventures he had vowed never to go on waterfall trips with me. But I convinced him that a nice waterfall near Beruas was easy peasy…:-) A less than ten minute walk. After that I brought him home in Shah Akam, where we visited the shop recently opened by his daughter, and named after his wife Mary! I wish them good luck.

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When my waterfall friend Teoh told me he could take a weekday off for a waterfall trip, it was no problem to suggest a nice destination: Ulu Rening, see my recent post. Edwin was also eager to go again, and another friend, Chadel, joined too. Again we had a fun time, beautiful weather! It was only when we took a picture “for the album” that we realised that we were all wearing a blue shirt!  Four shades of Blue…:-)

Ulu Rening

During my earlier visit, I had a few anxious moments, when I was caught in the turbulence, sliding doen the last tier of the waterfall. So this time I did not take any risk, which gave me the opportunity to video my friends while they were sliding down.

When I was in Taiping, my friends Girlie and Yeoh told me that they were coming to KL. So  I finally got my chance to invite them for lunch in my condo, after having enjoyed their hospitality so many times. As they did not know the way to my condo, but of course knew where IKEA was, I met them there for the free coffee, after which we had a Western style lunch at my place, soup, bread with salad and cheese, and tiramisu as desert.

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Finally something quite different. For our dinner we often go the commercial district near to our condo. Many shops and eateries. Many cars as a result. Malaysian style many cars are double parked. Very annoying when you come back and your car is blocked. Solution? See the picture below. Even when you can park close to the curb, you do not. LOL

Parking Malaysian style

 

Shame on Taiping!

Now that Malaysia has become my second home, I can say that Taiping is my second hometown..:-) I am a frequent visitor and became a member of the Taiping Heritage Society.

Taiping is rightly proud about its many historical firsts: the Prison (1879), the New Club (1881), the Lake Gardens (1881), the Clock tower (1881), the King Edward VII school (1883), the Perak Museum (1883) and many more.

So why is this post titled Shame on Taiping? Because the list of firsts contains two items that are at this moment in a deplorable state, being completely neglected for years already.

The first is the (location of the) Residence. In 1877, on a hill overlooking Taiping, a residence was built for the British Assistant Resident (Maxwell). It was here that Isabella Bird wrote several letters for her book the Golden Chersonese A few years later (1884) the building was enlarged and became the residence for the British Resident (Low). Nothing is left these days of this Residence, except the stone pillars, upon which the wooden house was built. After Merdeka a hotel was built at the back of these pillars. About ten years ago I have stayed overnight in this Casuarina inn. The inn is visible in the background. Basic accommodation.

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Room in Casuarina

It has been closed now for many years already. Without any fencing, freely accessible, a haven for drug addicts. No wonder that every time I come and have a look, it is more ruined. It may not be possible to exploit a hotel here, but this historical location should be preserved. Shame on Taiping!

Here is a collection of pictures taken recently.

The Casuarina inn started as the New Resthouse. Why new? Because there exists another Resthouse, a real first, built in 1894. Opposite the King Edward school and not far from the Railway station. Also here I have stayed overnight, many years ago. It was at that time named the Lagenda Hotel. Quite acceptable budget hotel, good location.

Resthouse

About five years ago, the hotel/resthouse was closed. In the beginning hardly any fencing, even now it is easy to enter the premises. With a predictable effect: the place is going to pieces and is now already probably beyond redemption.  Shame on Taiping!

The last pictures have been taken of and in the buildings to the left of the Resthouse. They must be old as well, and especially the corner one looks architecturally interesting. Here too, you can just walk in, with predictable effect. Shame on Taiping!

 

Wesak 2013

In the Christian religion the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated in December (Christmas), his death in March/April (Good Friday)  and his ascension to Heaven in May (Ascension Day).

Buddhism is more efficient and commemorates birth, death and the reaching of Nirvana of Gautama Buddha on the same day, called Wesak. It is celebrated on the Full Moon day in May, which fell this year on May 24. I was in Taiping at that time, visiting my friends George and Jennie.

There are several Buddhist temples in Taiping. In the morning we visited the Thai Wat Phodhiyaram  (Thai)  and the Bodi Langka Ram Temple (Sri Lankan), located next to each other in Assam Kumbang, Taiping. And in the evening we went to the Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (SBS), high up in the hills of Tupai. All of them belong to the Theravada school of Buddhism.

Buddhist flag

As you know  I am a secular humanist, opposed to religion. But I feel quite attracted to the philosophy of Theravada Buddhism. I do not believe in reincarnation, but the concepts of Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (suffering) and Anatta (not-self) appeal to me. Although I must confess that I have not yet made much progress on the Noble Eightfold Path  🙂

In Sri Lanka I have attended Wesak many years ago. There it is a very solemn, quiet event, people are dressed in white sarongs and visit the dagoba (temple) to offer flowers. There may be some food, but that is for the poor.

How different was the atmosphere this time in Malaysia! Many people come just for the free (vegetarian) food, I think, I saw many Indian (hindu) people. In the Thai temple a long queue of devotees was waiting to pour water on a Buddha (and then take this holy water home to bathe themselves). More Mahayana than Theravada…?

Wesak

Many people had been lighting candles, a very nice sight. Candles

Here are a few more pictures taken during our morning visit

The SBS is not a real temple but a Buddhist training and meditation center. I had visited it several times before, once during the Katina ceremony, when the devotees give new robes to the monks, very impressive.

As the Sanctuary, high up in the hills, can only be reached by a narrow winding road, you had to park your car at the cemetery(!) down the hill, after which volunteers with 4WD’s shuttled you up. Well organised!

From the sanctuary you have a magnificent view of the sunset and Taiping, deep down.

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Focal point of the sanctuary is this statue of the Buddha in the so-called Dhyana (meditation) Asana. The back of the right hand rests on the palm of the other in such a way that the tips of the thumbs lightly touch one another.

Buddha

 

Compared with Sri Lanka, also here the atmosphere was more festive, there were even fireworks. And lots of food…:-) We saw  a  few Kungming lanterns (hot air balloons). Altogether it was a bit too carnavalesque to my taste.

Here is a selection of pictures

After the ceremony was finished, the thousands of visitors had to be transported back to the parking. Long queue, but kudos for all the volunteers!

Here is a video of the fireworks

A Day with May

About two years ago, during a visit of Taiping, I met May during a walk in the Lake Gardens. We had a friendly conversation and later kept in touch via email.

During my last visit we managed to meet again. First we had a walk in the Lake Gardens, beautiful as ever. Next we had breakfast with dim sum in the North Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (!) near the lake. Delicious glutinous rice too! I told her that George and I were planning to go to Austin Pool, and May was interested to join.

Austin Pool is similar to the better know Burmese Pool, but less crowded. Clear water, some cascades and a bit further along the trail a nice waterfall with a deep pool. Young daredevils were having fun in the water and May could not resist the temptation to take a bath herself.

We ended up in one of the famous cendol shops of Taiping.

A half-day well spent!