Two months ago I published a blog Lockdown!, about our experiences during what in Malaysia has been called the Movement Control Order (MCO). In June this was relaxed into the Recovery MCO, slowly restaurants and hotels reopened and (interstate) travel within Malaysia was allowed again.
We wanted to see if life had gone back to normal a bit , and decided to make a short trip to the Cameron Highlands. First trip since February (Taiping).
We started with breakfast, near our condo. Basically you have to write down your name and telephone number, but most people didn’t do that. Half-boiled eggs, toast and coffee, a good start of the day.
We stopped in Bidor for lunch at the Pun Chun restaurant. Also here registration and temperature check. They are famous for their Duck Noodles, Aric doesn’t fancy duck and had Wantan Mee.
Bidor is a good place to buy petai and next to the restaurant they were working on mural art related to this delicacy (if you like it, haha) .
We took the old winding road from Tapah to the Cameron Highlands and stopped for a while at the Lata Iskandar waterfall. A grandmother fall, as my friend Khong would call it. Perfect for a senior citizen like me!
The first impression you get from the Cameron Highlands is rather disappointing. Vegetable farms with their ugly grey plastic covering, hotels everywhere, like here in Ringlet.
But there are still beautiful tea plantations.
We stopped for tea at the Bharat tea shop where we had tea and scones, of course! More people than we expected (as it was a weekday).
We had booked accommodation in the Lutheran MIssion Bungalow. It was my fifth visit to this unspoilt gem, first time was in 2010, ten years ago 😉 . Not much has changed in these ten years, the bungalow is well maintained. They have twelve rooms, but we had the bungalow for ourselves.
We arrived around 4pm, had tea and took some rest.
A visit to the Cameron Highlands is not complete without a steamboat dinner. You find steamboat restaurants everywhere, a favourite of us is Jin Jin in Brinchang. It was crowded, when we arrived there was still a free table, but later people had to queue. Registration as usual, but in the restaurant there was no social distancing. Nice friendly atmosphere.
We ordered steamboat for two people, but could not finish everything.
The sound of birds woke us up next morning, for the rest it was absolutely quiet in and around the bungalow. A bit later we could hear the sound of the caretaker who was preparing our breakfast. Breakfast in British style, with cereals, fried eggs, sausage, toast and jam.
The weather was splendid, super blue sky. We walked around in the garden and took pictures of flowers.
Two views of the garden, the left picture is taken from the living room. There is one room upstairs, with a balcony, from where I took the second picture . Will try to book that room (no 12) next time.
Before we checked out, I walked some distance back on the access road, and then walked again to the bungalow. Always when I come here, I have the feeling of going backwards in time. I hope to share that feeling with these three photos.
The first time I visited the Lutheran Mission Bungalow with my friend Ashleigh in 2010, we were on a mission 😉 . Ashleigh wanted to write an article about the disappearance of Jim Thompson on 26 March 1967 from the Moonlight Bungalow in the Cameron Highlands. He was last seen by the cook of the Lutheran Mission Bungalow. Read more about our mission in my blog What happened to Jim Thompson? .
Here is a Google Earth map of the two bungalows with a photo of the Moonlight Bungalow, which is used as a hotel at the moment. Notice the winding access road to both bungalows
Before leaving the Cameron Highlands, we stopped at a few stalls to buy sweet potatoes and petai.
We used a different route to go back home. From Ringlet to Sg Koyan and from there to Raub, as we wanted to have durian and Raub is famous for its durians. The first time I took this road was in 2008, when it was still under construction. A very adventurous trip, here is a report : New Road to the Cameron Highlands . Now the road is a good alternative to the old Tapah road.
We had durians at this stall in Raub. You could not have them in the stall, only take away.
We bought two durians and asked the lady to open them for us. She used a nice contraption to do that.
Next to the stall, beside the road, there were a few makeshift tables , where we could enjoy the “king of fruits”.
It was a nice trip, we should have stayed another night in the bungalow. Our conclusion is that traveling within Malaysia is almost back to normal.
In a recent post, I reported about a trip to Kuala Selangor with our UK friend Rodney. He had also never visited Taiping, my 2nd hometown.! A good reason to plan a short trip, only 3D2N, because he was flying back to UK on 24 February. A bit too short for me, so I booked 2 nights in Furama for Aric and Rodney, and two more nights for me. Therefore this report is in two parts 🙂
We started early on 20 February, because our first destination was Penang. Rodney’s longtime Malaysian partner, Keng, had passed away in the UK, a few months earlier and Rodney had brought his ashes to scatter them in the sea near Penang, where Keng was born. We had offered to help and support him.
On our way North we had breakfast in Tanjung Malim. We had half-boiled eggs with ice coffee, where the ice was made of coffee in the shape of a heart, so it would not dilute the coffee, while melting. A clever trick.
Traffic was smooth, we reached Penang in time to have lunch at the Taman Emas restaurant we had visited before, with good char kuey teow and assam laksa.
We continued to Teluk Bahang near the northwestern tip of Penang Island, where Aric had, with the help of a friend, booked a boat.
We had bought yellow and white chrysanthemum flowers to scatter with the ashes.
It was a simple, moving farewell ceremony.
The road ends here. There used to be a restaurant here, aptly named The End of the World.
From Teluk Bahang we drove back to Taiping, where we arrived in hotel Furama around 4 pm. After a short rest we walked to the nearby Lake Gardens. Usually it rains in the afternoon in Taiping, but this time it was beautiful weather. We enjoyed the tranquil atmosphere.
A few more pictures. Top right flowers of the Rain Trees (Samanea Saman) that border the Lake. Bottom left the fruits of the Cannon Ball Tree, not all Taipingites may be aware that a few of these strange trees are growing in the Lake Gardens.
The sunset was very nice. Look at this picture, isn’t it beautiful? The Lake Gardens are fascinating, any time of the day.
Compare it with this video. The famous Chinese Pagoda Bridge in the Lake Gardens has been recently decorated with gaudy LED-lights. Many people are happy with it, personally I think it doesn’t go well with the atmosphere of the Lake Gardens. Feel free to comment.
After this long day we had our dinner at the outdoor food court of Prima. With beer, satay, rojak, otak otak and other delicacies.
The next morning we started with breakfast in a small hawker center near my hotel, often called the Circus Ground by locals, because in earlier days circus shows were given here. The grassy field in the center is surrounded by palm trees and recently “decorated” with “I Love Taiping”. Hmm. We had delicious Chee Cheong Fun in the stall of my friend Mr Tong, 4th (!) generation owner.
Our morning program was to visit the Ayer Hitam waterfall, near Batu Kurau, the rural backyard of Taiping. My last visit was three years ago, it is a 45 minute drive from town. Approaching the trail head, I got a bit worried because quite a lot of development had taken place, a new resort was still under construction. Notice the concrete reinforcement of the river slopes!
The road ends at a small water catchment where we parked our car. Fortunately the trail was still unspoiled, although I noticed some work going on to widen the trail.
It is only a 20 minutes walk on a clear, partly cemented trail, to have a view of the waterfall. From there a small trail brings you in a few minutes down to the base of the fall.
A short video of the impressive and still pristine waterfall. Better don’t wait too long to visit this fall, before “development” takes over.
It was an easy half-day trip, we were back in town for lunch at the Yut Sun restaurant in Jalan Pasar. Of course we had the famous Hainanese Chicken Chop 🙂 .
After a long rest in our hotel, we drove to Kuala Sepetang (former Port Weld). It has become quite touristic, but when you cross the river on a pedestrian bridge to the other side, it is still quite unspoiled. From the bridge you have a good view of the fishing village.
We walked the (only) street until the end, to a big Taoist temple, the Shang Di temple, dedicated to the Emperor of Heaven. Recently built, maybe because the villagers have more income these days? Richly decorated with a huge statue of the Dragon Turtle.
Beautiful tile tableaus, illustrating the dangers of the sea and the importance of paying respect to the gods.
We stayed quite some time at a jetty, watching the sunset and the traffic on the river. Very relaxing.
On our way back to Taiping we stopped in Matang for dinner. There are a few popular seafood restaurants in this small village. We chose the Light House Seafood restaurant where we had a nice seafood porridge.
Almost back in our hotel we came across a Hindu procession. A chariot was pulled by two impressive buffalos. Asking which deity was venerated, I was told that it was Shiva Lingam. I leave it to the reader to find out what a lingam is 🙂 .
Of course I had to show Rodney the mural of Amelia Earhart, the famous American aviator, commemorating that she had landed In Taiping on 20 June 1937 to refuel. A beautiful mural, only problem is that she never did! Read more in my two posts Amelia Earhart and Taiping and Amelia and Taiping (Part Two) .
The next morning we decided to have our breakfast in Casual Market. But before walking there, we first made a detour to have a look at a bungalow, a few hundred meter from the hotel.
Why? Mr Foo, working at Furama and, like me, interested in Taiping and its history, had told me about this bungalow, that until a few months ago it was almost completely invisible because of “jungle” surrounding it. Now the land had been cleared and a beautiful bungalow had come into view. Abandoned, but still in good condition. Built in 1932.
Here is a close-up of the bungalow and a screenshot from Google Street View, taken last year. You can just see part of the roof. An interesting discovery, I know more about its history, but will keep that for another post.
We didn’t take my usual route to Casual Market and passed on our way a small Chinese temple, which I had never noticed before. Notice that the “deities” are wearing a songkok! It is a so-called Datuk Kong temple. A mixture of Chinese folk religion with Malay influences, there are many of them in Malaysia. The right picture shows the Peace Hotel, opposite the Casual Market. Built in 1928, it has a rich history. Nowadays there are food stalls on the ground floor.
Stairs lead up to the first floor. As far as I know that is the domain of the ladies of the night 🙂 . I climbed up to have a look, didn’t meet any ladies, but the wooden interior was nice.
Casual Market is another favourite food court of mine. There are two popular stalls with Char Keow Teow, this time I chose the fishball version.
After our breakfast I showed Rodney and Aric a few of the heritage sites of Taiping, both the positive and the negative ones. Here is the Central Market of Taiping, an iconic building (1884/85).
There are several separate sections. Left a stall in the pork market, I wonder how old this stall is. Right the fish market.
Front view of the Market. Good news, there are plans (and funds!) to restore the market in its old glory (not like Pasar Seni in KL, I hope).
Taiping has many famous schools. This is Saint Georgius Institute (SGI), one of them.
To be honest, it is the mixture of restoration and decay that attracts me in my 2nd hometown… 🙂 . Left the attractive restoration of the Ceylon Association Building. Right the remains of the Rest House.
The government buildings next to the Rest House are still easily accessible. Am I too negative in suspecting that the authorities leave it like this, hoping that drug addicts who are still staying there, will cause a fire one of these days that will destroy the whole building? See my detailed reports Taiping Bandar Warisan and Taiping, October 2019 . Don’t worry , I did not climb up to the first floor 🙂 .
Two more pictures. A nice mural and the skeleton of what once must have been a nice house. As I wrote, the mixture of development and decay attracts me.
After this morning visit of Taping, Aric and Rodney drove back to KL.
The second part of my stay. A nice lotus flower at the entrance of Furama and a picture of me and a huge tree, around the corner of the hotel.
In the afternoon I visited with my friend Halim two quite different kinds of graveyards. First the large Prestavest cemetery in Tupai. I thought that these huge rows of tombs were graves, but the space is too small, they are rest places for the urns of cremated people!
So it is an elaborate (and very expensive!) version of the traditional columbarium, where we also had a look. The caretaker must have thought that we were potential “customers” 🙂 Nice statues of the Buddha give the place a serene atmosphere.
There was still time to visit the tomb of Long Jaafar in Bukit Gantang. He was a Malay nobleman who supposedly (accidentally) discovered tin in the Taiping region. The tombs are well kept, but from his fort nothing remains.
On our way back we enjoyed assam laksa in a roadside stall near Bukit Gantang.
The next day I had breakfast with my friend George. He introduced me to Taiping, many years ago. He suggested the Ee Ee Fatt 128 coffee shop in Tupai. I had Chee Cheong Fun again, not bad, although I still prefer Mr Tong’s 🙂
After breakfast we visited the Botanical Gardens of Taiping next to the Lake Gardens. I had been there when it was still under construction and wondered why to create a botanical garden, with the beautiful Penang one so nearby. Better a botanical garden than a new residential area, my friend Yeap said, and I think he was right 🙂 .
The garden is still under construction,, many trees and palms have been planted already, and there are several scenic spots.
Here is an example, a Fan Palm. I have enlarged the name tag, because I am wondering who has designed the format. Why is the name Taman Botani Perak so dominating? The name of the plant, PALAS KIPAS should be on top in large capitals. Below it, in a slightly smaller font, the Common name : Fan Palm, the Official name, Licuala grandis, the Family name, Arecaceae . Missing the country of origin, Vanuatu. Last lines, in a small font, plant id number, planting date and Taman Botani Perak. Why not Taman Botani Taiping, by the way?
Not yet many flowering shrubs, I found a few.
Next to the Botanical Garden, but now separated from it, one of the oldest heritage sites of Taiping can be found, the communal tomb of the Hai San. The Hai San and the Ghee Hin were two Chinese factions, fighting each other in the Larut wars.
For lunch George and I were invited by Girlie and Yeoh, two other Taiping friends.
I still had some energy left for another trip to the Ayer Hitam waterfall, this time with Halim. Two times the same waterfall? As access is so easy, I had sent a WhatsApp message to my Taiping Heritage friends, if they were interested to join me for another visit. But only Halim responded.
Left the start of the trail, right one of the several sheds where locals stay during the durian season, to guard the king of fruits.
Halim had never visited this fall before and, being an adventurous guy, suggested that we should come back another time and camp overnight. An attractive idea, but I feel a bit too old for it.
Walking back, I found this ginger flower, an Etlingera coccinea , one of my favourites. It looks like the flower just grows from the earth.
We passed again the new resort, Chalet Latip D’Ayer Hitam and had a chat with the people working there. Modern, colorful design, but I have my reservations about building the chalets so close to the river that you have to reinforce the river banks with concrete.
An beautiful old-fashioned Malay house that reminded Halim of his younger years .
In Batu Kurau we had a teh tarik and apom balik. Batu Kurau has a volunteer fire brigade, the stall was next to it, and our table in front of the “bomba” truck. Fortunately no fire alarm went of during our stay.
Taiping is famous because of its Lake Gardens, so neighbouring Kamunting also wanted one. A nice try, but they can not compete. This is the most interesting part, a lotus pond, crossed by a bridge. Two metal towers at both ends of the bridge. No idea if they ever had a function.
Next morning I had breakfast with Yeap in Lian Thong , soft-boiled eggs on toast, named roti goyang in Malay, “shaking toast” Do I have to explain the name? Later, Yeap picked me up from Furama to bring me to the station, but first we had lunch in the restaurant, that is part of the Ceylon Association building. Nice Tom Yam fried rice. During our lunch a lady joined us, a friend of Yeap, but also a karaoke partner of my friend George. Proving once again that Taiping is a very small world 🙂 .
Waiting for the train back to KL. One of the reasons that I feel so at home in Taiping, is the hospitality of its inhabitants. Will go back soon 🙂
Two days after the durian trip to Bentong, my Kiara friend Margaret organised another trip, this time to Titi in Negeri Sembilan, and asked me if I would like to join. My first response was to decline the invitation, because I thought two durian parties in three days might be a bit too much. But on second thought I accepted, not only for the durians, but also for the fellowship 🙂 .
Titi is only about 50 km away from KL, as the crow flies, but it took us about two hours to reach the village, because you have to drive either via Ulu Langat, or via Kuala Kelawang.
The durian farm is a private farm, where we met friends of Margaret and were welcomed by the caretakers. Many varieties of durians are grown here, it was a pleasure to walk around and pick up durians that were lying on the grass everywhere.
The caretakers had prepared boxes with many different “cultivars” to taste, D24, 101, Tekka, Bright Red, Thai, Mun Chin Hoong.
I love durians, but I am not an expert, it was nice to listen to my friends describing the various fruits as creamy, bitter, sweet etc.
To open durians is not easy, but here they used a nice gadget !
We could buy durians to tapau for very reasonable prices, and many of us used this opportunity, some even bought quite a lot 🙂
The orchard has also rambutan and pulusan trees. Before we looked for them, we were advised to wear a helmet, in case a durian would fall down.
Of course we followed the advice…-)
The rambutans were hanging a bit too high, but the pulasan were easy to collect.
One last picture before we left.
In Titi we walked around a bit. Also here mural art has found its way. The village is known for its sweet pineapples, so not surprisingly you find pineapples in the mural paintings.
Even the Chinese temple has been decorated!
Before going home, we had a drink and some food in restaurant Sin Wong Kok. After all the durians I was not really hungry but thirsty 🙂 .There was toddy!
While I was pouring my drink, I didn’t realise that there was somebody behind me, pulling faces!
It was a very nice outing. Here is what I bought to take home, one Tekka durian and one D24.
When my friend Pola Singh asked me last week if I would like to join him for a durian trip to Bentong, I accepted immediately. I love the King of Fruits, but here in KL they are often very expensive. The trip was organised by his schoolmates from Malacca High School
Meeting point was the Bentong market, where we started with breakfast in the popular Yuen Kee Kopitiam.
We had Yong Tau Foo and of course Wan Tan Mee, the specialty of the shop.
Leo, the organiser of the trip, had started his working life as a teacher in Bentong and still knew his way. He showed us a few of the tourist attractions of the town. Apparently the Bentong Walk is similar to the Jonker Walk in Melaka, a Saturday night market.
These days there is a proliferation of mural art in Malaysia. It started in Penang, followed by KL, Ipoh, Taiping, Gopeng, KKB and now also in Bentong. There are probably more, but these are the ones I have visited.
Actually I am a bit unhappy with this mushrooming. As more and more suitable walls in Malaysia will be covered with mural art, its impact will get less.
Having said that, I must admit that the murals in Bentong are well done. It is nice that you can interact with many of them.
And that is of course what we did 😉 .
A few more examples.
After our walk we walked back to our cars and went on our way to the durian farm. On our way we passed the attractive Pasar Besar and the Mosque.
The durian farm can be reached from the road leading to the Chamang waterfall. Parking our cars beside the road, we walked the last part to the farm , where we were welcomed by the owner, Law Kam Kuan, a former student of Leo. She explained that no pesticides are used, accepting that squirrels or monkeys will sometimes damage the fruits.
The next hour I had no time to take pictures, because I was busy tasting the different brands of durians 🙂 . We started with Kampung Durian,, followed by D24 and finally Musang King. Here are some pictures I took after I had eaten enough.
Our next stop was at the Chamang waterfall. It is one of the popular waterfalls in Malaysia, access is very easy, there are toilets, changing rooms etc. I have visited the fall many times, but the last time was already 7 years ago.
The fall is powerful, but also dangerous. Almost yearly people drown here!
I took a short video of the waterfall.
The program for the rest of the day included lunch, ice cream, tea, but we didn’t feel hungry anymore, so we decided to drive back to KL after the waterfall.
A nice , well organised trip. Click here for a video report by Pola.
The first time we met Pat and Roger must have been around 2002, when we were living in Goodyear Court 7. Soon we became friends, they attended my 60th birthday celebration, I visited them in Basildon (UK) and later in Melbourne, they visited me in Amsterdam, we went on trips together to Macau, Chiang Mai and China and of course we had numerous outings in Malaysia 😉 .
Last month they were back in Malaysia, we met them for dinner and discussed where we should go for our next outing. We decided to make a 2D1N trip with an overnight stay in Ipoh.
We started with breakfast near our condo. Half-boiled eggs and toast, and buns with dry meat and chicken floss. Of course with coffee.
Our first destination was Sekinchan, where we visited the taoist Nan Tian Temple, dedicated to the Nine Emperor Gods. The temple is surrounded by paddy fields. Pity that the paddy had been harvested, so the fields were rather brownish.
You can climb the pagodas beside the temple. We climbed the left one, Aric the right one to take a picture of us. Likewise we took a picture of him…:-)
Of course Aric had to take some “artistic” pictures.
Our next destination was Parit Baru where Aric was born. Instead of going back to the main road, we took the parallel road through the paddy fields and that was a lucky decision, because we passed a field where they had planted the paddy seedlings. Beautiful fresh green color.
While we were passing by, workers were collecting the seedlings to transport them to the fields where they would be planted. Fascinating to watch. I took a short video.
In Parit Baru we made a short stop at Aric’s birthplace, before continuing to one of the many seafood restaurants in the region.
The Yuan Yuan restaurant is run by the family, the interior is basic and the food delicious.
After lunch we made a short stop in Teluk Intan to see its leaning tower. Like its famous partner in Pisa, you must choose your location to see the slanting 🙂
We had booked two rooms in the Ipoh Bali hotel. Aric and I had stayed here already two times, we liked the atmosphere, and expected Pat and Roger to appreciate it too. They did 🙂
We had made reservations for rooms on the ground floor, which have a verandah with a koi pond. So relaxing. The reception provides you with fish food, don’t use other food!
After a little rest, we met our friend Keith Ong at the Yum Yum restaurant, where he had booked a table for us. Very nice food!
After dinner we drove to Ipoh Old Town, for a short walk. The town hall, one of Hubback’s creations, was beautifully illuminated. In front of the Railway Station, another of his masterworks, colorful fountains created a playful atmosphere.
I have said it before and will say it again: In my opinion Ipoh is much more a Bandar Warisan (Heritage Town) than Taiping, the “sleepy hollow” which I love and consider as my second hometown.
In 2016 I visited Ipoh to have a look at the mural art created by Zacharevic, one of my favourite artists. I wrote a blog about it: Ipoh Murals. Pat and Roger had not yet seen them, so we showed them a few.
There is something interesting about the Hummingbird mural 😉 . When Zacharevic created the mural in 2013, the bird was hovering in front of a tree. In 2016 the tree was gone, probably cut down. And now there was a tree again! Can it have grown in three years or was it replanted?
As in Penang, also in Ipoh there has been a proliferation of mural art in recent years, which is regrettable, IMHO. Soon all suitable walls will be covered with mural art, its impact getting less, a law of diminishing returns.
Here is a selection of what we saw during a walk in Ipoh Old Town. They are of varying quality, sometimes in the style of Zacharevic, often very mediocre.
There is another a bit worrying development going on, similar to Penang. There is beautiful heritage, like the Han Chin Pet Soo museum. But around the corner, Concubine Lane has been “spruced up” for tourists and now has losts its character. And not far away, still in Old Town, there is the new Upside Down museum, not related at all to heritage. I would be happy if the development and maintenance of Old Town Ipoh would be more consistent.
Before going for lunch, we had a look at the J.W.W Birch Memorial. Birch was the first British resident of Perak, very unpopular with the Malay nobility and assassinated in 1875. Two Malay noblemen, Dato Maharaja Lela and Dato Sagor were seen as the leaders behind the killing and hanged in 1877. The memorial was built in 1909 behind the town hall, between two roads, Station Road and Post Office Road.
Why am I telling all this 😉 ? Well, nowadays of course the two Malays are seen as as “freedom fighters” ! To honour them, Station Road has been renamed as Jalan Dato Maharajalela and Post Office Road is now Jalan Dato Sagor !
We had lunch at Chang Jiang White Coffee, another gem we discovered during an earlier visit. Not only is the coffee good, the food is also nice and the atmosphere is very relaxed, with a young crowd.
Before driving back to KL, we visited one more temple, the Miaw Yuan Chan Lin temple. We had found this remote, little known Thai Buddhist temple on the slopes of Gunung Rapat during an earlier visit, see my blog Gunung Rapat Cave Temples .
Before exploring the temple we had a look at two cages with monkeys on the temple grounds. They looked aggressive and unfriendly, not clear why they were kept there. The walls of the cages were made of a mesh with small openings. But not small enough, when we stood watching the poor animals, suddenly one of them put his arm through an opening and grabbed Roger’s glasses! We were shocked. What to do?
The residing monk came to help us, by spraying the monkey with a garden hose. That did not work, he got more angry and still kept the spectacles in his hands. Next the monk tried to give him some bananas, that worked better, the monkey dropped what was left of the specs, fortunately next to the mesh, so Aric was able to retrieve the twisted frame and two glasses
Roger can hardly see anything without his spectacles and had no spare with him. But Aric has been working in an optical shop, long time ago, and managed to repair the specs provisorily. While he was busy, I inspected the monkey cage and saw a notice we had overlooked!
After recovering from this unexpected “adventure”. we explored the temple a bit. The friendly monk didn’t mind having his picture taken, the other monk also didn’t mind because it was a statue 😉 .
The reclining Buddha is quite impressive.
Two statues of the Buddha. Left a very common asana with the left hand in his lap, and the right hand held upwards, facing outwards. Right a laughing Buddha, carrying two balls in his hands.
Two more pictures of this interesting temple. Some beautiful limestone formations.
It was a nice outing. We will not easily forget the adventure with the monkeys!
A few weeks ago my friend Henry Chan whatsapped me about a”new” waterfall in the Sg Siput region, Lata Penyel, and a cave south of Ipoh, Gua Air. He had visited both places. and when I showed my interest, he said that he was willing to guide me there.
Henry and his wife Soon Lay live in Lunas, but they also have a house in Taiping, my 2nd hometown 🙂 . During my recent visit to Taiping, they also came to Taiping, and from there we made a day trip to Ipoh. A long trip, because we had decided to include a second cave, Gua Naga Mas, located not far from Gua Air.
They picked me up from my hotel at 7 am and first we drove to Bercham for breakfast at Restoran New Paradise. Food is another shared interest, the restaurant is famous for its Char Siew Pao. We bought a few for lunch, I had Yong Tau Foo for breakfast. A good start of the day!
Our first destination was the Gua Naga Mas (Golden Dragon Cave). We had never been there, but Bernard, another friend of mine, had visited this cave and given us coordinates and directions.
October last year the Kinta Valley has been declared a National Geopark, hopefully the vulnerable limestone hills and caves will be better protected now against the ongoing quarrying onslaught!
With Bernard’s directions we found the location easily. The limestone cave is part of a Buddhist temple, many of these cave temples can be found around Ipoh, see for example my blog Gunung Rapat Cave Temples . Compared with those temples, this one looks rather neglected. Steps lead to the upper cave with the fossil.
Information boards tell about the history of the fossil. They look new.
Here is the fossil. It could be a tiger, or a leopard, or even a bear. It could be more than 300.000 year old, according to a recent study.
It is not that easy to spot, you must know where to look ;-). We were the only visitors. Using some rickety scaffolding you can come a bit closer to the fossil. Apparently there is work going on and probably in the future the cave and also the temple will look better.
A few more pictures
View of the surroundings from the cave entrance. A lot of industrial development. The hills are part of Gunung Lanno, our next destination.
For the second cave, Gua Air (Water Cave) , we drove a few km north, to Gunung Lanno. Extensive quarrying takes place here, as can be seen in this GE screenshot. To visit the cave, you have to enter the quarry site, permission was easily given.
Before we entered the cave, we first drove a bit farther, where the cave exits in a beautiful lake with crystal clear water.
Back to the cave entrance. Henry had brought helmets and headlights.
Entering the cave was a bit tricky, using a ramshackle ladder. Some steps were already missing, and going down another one broke loose.
The cave itself was disappointing, only a short stretch, and probably not natural, but blasted. However, at the end you reach the small lake, really beautiful.
I was a bit worried if we would be able to climb up the ladder, which was now missing one more step, but we managed 🙂 . Outside the cave we followed a trail to the lake. That was more interesting than the cave itself.
Visiting the two caves had taken only taken about two hours, less time than we had expected. Henry decided that on our way to the waterfall, we could have lunch in the Old Friend Restaurant in Kuala Kuang (Chemor), famous for its Roast Duck. Delicious!
Our last destination was the Lata Penyel waterfall. In 2015 I visited waterfalls in the Sg Siput region: Sg Siput Waterfall Recce. I ended this blog with:
From Bawong 4WD roads lead to remote Pos Piah and Kg Kuala Mu. There must be dozens if not hundreds of waterfalls along these roads, waiting for intrepid explorers!
A few years later the road to Kg Kuala Mu has been tarred and is now accessible for normal cars. But it still a 2.5 hour drive from Ipoh to Kuala Mu!
The Tengkoh Penyel waterfall is near the small Pos Yum kampung. and can be reached on an easy trail of about 600 m. The kampung folk (Temiar O.A.) maintain the trail and are doing a good job.
The tall waterfall is a real beauty, very scenic. There is only a wading pool, so it is safe for non-swimmers.
The tall waterfall is a real beauty, very scenic. There is only a wading pool, so it is safe for non-swimmers.
The Orang Asli have done a marvelous job, they have built a few shelters and huts near the waterfall. You can rent them and even stay overnight
Some more pictures
Before driving back to Taiping, we still had time to have a look at Kampung Kuala Mu. A very winding road, climbing to an altitude of 600 m. Surprisingly there were many people there, bikers mainly, staying overnight in one of the huts. Well organised.
It was still a long way back to Taiping, where we arrived around 7 pm. Here is a Google Earth screenshot, with the location of the two caves, and the road from Chemor to the waterfall and Kuala Mu.
We finished this rewarding outing with a dinner at Thomas’ Western Food in Barrack Road. Henry had brought a few bottles of toddy!
In my opinion Perak is the most interesting state of Malaysia, regarding nature, culture and history. A rich history, many historical towns , numerous waterfalls. Nice food too..:-)
Recently I visited Perak with my friends Paul and Fahmi. We stayed two nights in the Cititel hotel in Ipoh.
On our way to Ipoh we first visited a waterfall near Sungkai, the Enggang waterfall. At the end of the road leading to the well-known Sungkai Hot springs, a clear trail starts, leading in about one hour to the waterfall.
The waterfall is not visible from the trail, but of course you can hear it. We first arrived halfway the fall (left picture). After some scrambling down the slope we managed to reach the bottom. (right picture)
We had visited this waterfall a couple of years ago. Not many people come here, the fall is still pristine! And the flow of water was very impressive this time.
After lunch in Sungkai, we continued to Ipoh, checked in into our hotel, took some rest and went out for dinner. Many times I have eaten in one of the famous chicken taugeh kwai teow places, but this time we were looking for halal food and an Ipoh friend had suggested a few suitable restaurants. The Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice turned out to be a good choice.
On our way back to our hotel, we passed a few interesting buildings. Left the Chua Cheng Bok building (1930s) in Art Deco style, recently painted in bright blue colors. Would you guess that the beautiful building in the right picture originally has been a Fire Station? It was built here in 1913 and upgraded in 1936. Served as Fire and Rescue Department until 1992.
For our breakfast next morning we went to the Halal Dimsum Cafe in Greentown another suggestion from my Ipoh friend. Very good dimsum!
On our program for the morning was another waterfall, the Lata Ulu Chepor, on the outskirts of Ipoh. It was a bit of failure, I had forgotten to mark the locations of the two (minor) falls in my GPS, and we passed them without noticing them. The trail continued, might lead to a taller waterfall upstream, but we returned, found a nice place to have a bath. Crystal clear water.
I had in mind to visit another waterfall in the same region, but this hike had taken quite a lot of time, so we decided to skip it and go for lunch. Nasi Ganja! Using Google we had found the address. When we arrived there, we noticed a big crowd queuing, but no sign of Nasi Ganja. It turned out that this was the shop, all Ipoh people know it as nasi ganja, but the shop can not advertise with the name as ganja is an illegal drug. . Nice nasi kandar, apparently addictive…:-)
Yong Suan a.k.a Nasi Ganja
In the afternoon Paul and I explored Ipoh Old Town. Paul had published an album about Ipoh Heritage, so he could show me around. We started from our strategically located hotel.
Around the corner St Michael’s Institution, one of the famous Ipoh schools, founded by the La Salle Brothers in 1912. The impressive building is from 1922.
Next to it the India Muslim Mosque. Construction started in 1909
Below left the entrance of the Royal Ipoh Club, records go back to 1895, but it may be even older. Right the High Court buildings, designed by Arthur Benison Hubback and built 1926-28.
Two other impressive buildings in Ipoh have also been designed by Hubback. Construction of the Town Hall started in 1914 and was completed two years later. Is is really a monumental building.
Opposite the Town Hall, the Railway Station, nicknamed the Taj Mahal of Ipoh by locals. Officially opened in 1917. The first floor used to be a hotel, the Majestic Station Hotel, and many years ago I have been staying there several times. It was already rundown at that time, dirty sheets, cockroaches. Now it is closed, although there still exists a website , promoting its “superbly-comfortable accommodation” !
Coming from the Railway Station, the Birch memorial is located behind the Town Hall. J.W.W. Birch was the first British resident of Perak, assassinated in 1875 at Pasir Salak by Malay noblemen, Dato Maharaja Lela and Dato Sagor.
The monument, also a clock tower, was erected in 1909 by his son, E.W. Birch, at that time the (much more popular) resident of Perak. Nice detail: the roads left and right of the monument were originally named Station Road and Post Office Road. After independence they have been renamed. The new names? Jalan Dato Maharajalela and Jalan Dato Sagor !
Another interesting detail. On four civilisation panels around the tower, 44 famous figures in the world history are portrayed, for example Buddha, Newton, Confucius, Galilei etc. One of the figures has been painted over. Guess who…:-)
Two bank buildings. Left the impressive building of the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank (1931), right the Chartered Bank (1924)
There are more historical bank buildings in the same district, for example the Mercantile Bank (1931) , designed in Art Deco style by Iversen.Now it is housing the Elken company, note the ugly banner on the facade. The OCBC bank is now occupying the building of the Straits Trading Company (1907).
Design by Iversen
Straits Trading Company
The Perak Hydro building (1930s) belonged to the Perak River Hydro-Electric Company who built the Chenderoh dam in the Perak river, the oldest reservoir in Malaysia
Chung Thye Phin was born in Taiping and became a wealthy tin miner and (the last) Kapitan Cina. The building below carried his name and was built in 1907. In its early days it used to be a medical hall. Beautiful facade.
Walking around in Ipoh Old Town, I was surprised about the numerous interesting heritage buildings. Generally well preserved.
At first I thought that this could be the exception: overgrown decaying shoplots. But I was mistaken…:-)
Actually it is part of Kong Heng square. Not overgrown, but modern vertical gardens..:-), The first floor houses Sekeping Kong Heng , will try to stay there during my next visit
Three more buildings. Left the Han Chin Pet Soo building, now housing the Hakka tin mining museum. Originally the home of the Hakka Tin Miners Club, founded in 1893 and rebuilt in 1929. In the middle a nameless house, under renovation. And right the building of the FMS Bar and Restaurant, an icon from Ipoh’s glorious past. A couple of years ago it was hoped that the glory would come back after a ambitious restoration. But during my visit it was closed without a sign of life. A failed project?
And here are two more buildings from a different era. Left the Labrooy House, modernist design, completed between 1960 and 1961. Right from the same period, the first parking garage of Malaysia!
Finally here are two street views of Leech Street (now Jalan Bandar Timah). Beautiful. Followers of my blog know that I love Taiping as my 2nd hometown. Pity you can not find similar street views in Taiping 🙁
To be honest, I was very impressed by the heritage of Ipoh Old Town. Taiping’s history starts earlier, it boasts on its many “Firsts” and is promoted as Bandar Warisan (Heritage Town), but when you compare the two towns, Ipoh deserves this title more.
Of course I had to walk through Concubine Lane. After reading negative reports about how tourism had destroyed the character of this street, I was prepared for the worst. Actually it was not too bad, not worse than Petaling Street in KL…:-)
Two year ago I visited Ipoh to see the Zacharevic murals, see my blog Ipoh Murals. Mural Art has been mushrooming all over Malaysia the last few years and also in Ipoh there has been copycatting. Not really a positive development.
We had dinner our last night in another Chinese Muslim restaurant, this time Fahmi’s discovery. Roast duck, Mongolian chicken, bitter gourd with salted egg. A nice, filling meal!
The next morning, before checking out, a view from my room in Cititel.
We had breakfast in the Medan Selera near the BIrch memorial with soft-boiled eggs on toast, an Ipoh specialty. Yummie!
Our plan was to visit the Hakka Tin mining museum in the Han Chin Pet Soo building, but they have only guided tours and the timing was not suitable for us. So we started our trip back to KL.
Our first stop was at the Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge. I have visited this gargantuan relic from the tin mining era several times in the past, was able to explore the dredge freely, climbing up to the upper level, sometimes bit scary, but fascinating. Since a few years the situation has changed, there were plans to make it a No 1 tourist attraction and it was closed, you could only see it from the outside.
Friends had told me that it was now open to the public, and I wanted to have a look. I was a bit shocked by the ticket price, RM 10 for Mykad holders, RM 20 (!) for foreigners. Senior citizens get a 50 % discount, but still too expensive, as at the moment only the (less interesting) lower level is accessible. Although the guided tour was informative, better wait until the whole dredge can be visited.
The bucket chain
Another view of the bucket chain
With our guide
Left the ambitious development plan for the Tanjung Tualang dredge. Rather unrealistic and completely over the top, in my opinion. Right a simpler version. I got the impression from our guide that the project has been put on hold after the recent change in government. Good, the dredge itself can become a tourist attraction, like Kellie’s castle, no need to surround it with all kind of nonsense.
During my earlier visits the dredge pontoon was tilting because of leakage, that has been stabilised now. Right a small canteen, closed when we visited the dredge, but probably more busy during weekends. There is also small museum.
Our next target was the Salu waterfall, 6 km north of Kampar. Easy access, two waterfalls. Suitable for senior citizens..:-)
From the carpark a cemented path leads in a few minutes to the lower Salu fall.
The upper fall can be reached in about 15 minutes via a clear trail. There are more waterfalls upstream, but these require jungle trekking.
Our last destination was the Tin Mining museum in Kampar. Until a few weeks ago I had never heard about this museum, but apparently it exists already for seven years! It was a pleasant surprise.
As the signboard says, it is mainly dedicated to open tin mining, using gravel pumps.Here is an interesting pdf file about Gravel Pump Tin Mining. Impressive machinery, I understand there are guided tours, which would really have been useful here.
Besides the machinery, there is a big hall with lots of information. A few scale models of tin mines give a good impression of the process.
Both inside and outside the halls dioramas have been created of the various activities related to tin mining. Also here a guide would be useful, or leaflets with information.
After our museum visit we had lunch in the mamak next to it, and then it was time to go home.
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.
Dinner with Aric’s sister and family
Nice Ikan Bakar
Dinner with Rahim and Paul
Lunch with Teoh and Siang Hui
Lunch with Margaret
Another dinner at Paul’s place
Lunch at a Thai restaurant
The most spicy food in my life
Breakfast with May in Taiping
Lunch with Aric in Bukit Tinggi
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!!
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.
Kanching. Time for coffee
One of the lower tiers
A stiff climb
To the upper falls
Maintaining my geocache
Lunch at the Batu Caves
The Batu Caves
Dinner at home
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.
Bukit Kiara fencing
Barbed wire madness!
Maintaining my geocache
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
There is always food
And my reward..-)
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.
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…:-)
When you are not interested in food, you can skip this post..:-)
Penang is a paradise for foodies. Do a Google search for “Penang food paradise” and you will get many pages with hits. Our last trip to Penang had the Murals as destination and the Thaipusam festival, but of course also FOOD! Here is part of what we had during our stay. Makan Non Stop..:-) For my non-Malaysian followers: Makan = Eating in Bahasa. The traditional welcome greeting when you arrive at a friend’s or family house is: Sudah makan? Have you eaten already?
On our way to Penang, we had dinner in Nibong Tebal at the Law Chang Kee restaurant. Famous for its Crab Porridge and its Boiled Baby Octopus. Don’t say aargh, the octopus was delicious. We paid RM 38 for our meal for two..:-) That is about 8-9 Euro.
Eating a baby octopus
The cook in his kitchen
We arrived in our hotel quite late, but after a shower we decided to have an evening walk. Visiting some of the murals, and ending at the China House, really a surprise for me. Beautifully renovated old houses with a marvelous selection of coffee and cakes! Really worth a visit…:-)
The China house
Large choice of delicacies
The next morning we had breakfast in a mamak stall near to our hotel. A friend of us, living in Penang, had suggested it to us as possibly the best Roti Chanai in town at Transfer Road.It was crowded and basic but very VOF (Value for Money)
The Roti Chanai at Jln Travers
Enjoying our breakfast
For our lunch we had planned to go to Balik Pulau for the Assam Laksa, But it was not our lucky day, the Chuan Hong stall, Aric’s favourite, was closed. So instead we had to go for Mee Rebus, in a nearby stall, also not bad.
I will not mention all the other places we visited during our trip, only the last one. It is the HUG restaurant in Jalan Hutton, also quite near to our hotel Mingood. Basically I am a hawker food lover, no fancy restaurants. So when a friend suggested the House of Udang Galah , my first impression was: too posh for me. But looking at the menu, the reasonable prices and the positive review of my friend, we decided to give it a try.
What an enjoyable evening we had! Excellent service, and good food. Only problem was that we ordered to0 many dishes, you should go there with a bigger group!
Here a few more pictures. We had Scallops as a starter, Seafood soup, then Peking Duck (first the skin, then the meat), the Udang Galah, and a combination of four vegetables. Finally we could not resist the temptation of the Baked Red Wine Syrup Apple as a dessert.
Our main course 🙂
Peking Duck skin
The way to eat it
Udang gala, veggie and duck
After this delicious (but also expensive!) dinner, we decided to skip the next day’s lunch at Pulau Aman. We will keep that for a next visit. First have to loose some calories…:-)
One more day to go, high time to write a journal about the last weeks of 2013, so I can start 2014 with a clean slate…:-)
We went back to Sabak Bernam two times, related to the passing away of Aric’s father, 20 November last year. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, many events follow the lunar cycle, so on 9 November this year there was a memorial ceremony. A meal for the deceased, prayers and the burning of gifts for him in the hereafter.
The second time was at the Winter Solstice, an important solar event in the Chinese calendar. We went to the cemetery, near Bidor. Aric took a beautiful picture of the whole family around the grave
Here are a few more pics
Early morning breakfast, on our way to the grave
Preparing for the praying
Two of Aric’s nephews admiring the family picture he just took
We attended the wedding dinner of one of Aric’s cousins. In traditional style, with nine courses, cutting of the cake and yam seng singing.
Of course I had several meetings with friends. Sometimes I am lazy to take pictures, but here are two. A visit to my friend Khong’s house to admire his garden and a dinner with friends of Aric in Chinese Muslim restaurant nearby our condo. Quite good food.
I made two waterfall trips with Eddie Yap. He guided us to a remote waterfall, which he had visited once before. So remote that even he, an experienced guide, could not find it back during the first trip..:-). We found a waterfall, but not the one he had in mind. It was a nice trip anyway, we had a relaxing bath in hot springs near KKB. Of course we had to come back, to find the missing fall! This time Eddie found it, a very pristine fall, access not so easy. A well hidden secret, we will keep it that way…:-)
On our way
Don’t touch this caterpillar
The upper fall, but not the one we were looking for
A nice bath in the hot springs
A second try
Finding our way
Not always easy
There it is, a beautiful, pristine fall
The four explorers
They are called Peacock Leaves
Sharing a drink…:-)
We celebrated Christmas in the usual way, relaxing at home with a nice home-cooked dinner…:-) Poached egg on mushroom with spinach as a starter, baked salmon with pak soy as main course, blue cheese (for me only, haha), and zabaglione with forest fruits as dessert. Cleaning the kitchen later was quite a job!
We always create our own (digital) Christmas and New Year card. This time using the Christmas decoration in our living room. Aric used his Photoshop expertise to “clean” the picture, I added the text.
What better way to end the year than by visiting a waterfall! My Dutch friend and former colleague Dick was in Malaysia and wanted to visit a waterfall. Paul was also interested. Chiling is only open to the public during weekends, so there was a crowd. I have been there so many times now, but each time it is again a pleasure to visit this most popular waterfall in Selangor. This picture was a lucky shot, it looks as if only the two girls are there!
We visited first the upper fall, as usual less crowded, then the lower fall. On our way back we had lunch in the WK restaurant in Ulu Yam. Here are more pictures.