We traveled by ETS train from KL Sentral to Butterworth, a very comfortable journey. From Butterworth we took the ferry to George Town. This way of reaching the island is more romantic, compared to the usual way (by car and bridge).
Our hotel was on walking distance from the jetty, but we were hungry and needed lunch first . We found a busy food court, where I had Penang Assam Laksa. The Armenian Street Heritage Hotel is very well located in the heart of the historical town.
After some rest we went out to explore the town. We started with the Khoo Kongsi. More photos .
The weather was nice. We walked past many houses of worship, in the Guan Yin Temple a celebration was going on with a performance of Chinese opera.
George Town is a haven for foodies, in 2014 I wrote a blog about it, Penang Food. This time we were looking for halal food. We first walked to the Esplanade. because we remembered that there was a Malay food court there, but it was closed already. Beautiful views of the floodlit colonial buildings!
Walking back we ended up at the popular Kapitan restaurant, where we had an acceptable Tandoori Chicken.
The next morning we were in the mood for a dim sum breakfast, but of course most dim sum places are not halal. We were lucky to find a gem: Dim Sum Valet . Delicious dim sum, a very friendly Malay couple, they started the shop beginning of this year. Worth visiting!
We still had some space left for a dessert. Our friends Pat and Roger had visited George Town recently and were very enthusiastic about the durian ice cream of Kek Seng. They were right, it was delicious.
Our first target for the day was the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. A wonderful museum, surprising that I had never heard about it earlier! More photos .
We spent considerable time in the museum, there was a lot to see. For lunch we went back to the food court at the Esplanade that was closed yesterday evening. Now it was open, we had the famous Mee Sotong of Hameed Pata . A long queue, but worth waiting for it
In the afternoon we explored the colonial architecture of Beach Street. One bank building after another prove that in those colonial times George Town was the financial center of Malaya. But not only banks, also emporiums, shops, opulent residences. More photos .
We visited a few more mural artworks, and we were not the only ones. Actually I am not happy about the mushrooming of mural art in Penang (and in the whole of Malaysia!). Not always is it high quality and the economical Law of Diminishing Returns is valid also here. More photos .
After a short rest in our hotel we went out for dinner to the New Lane Hawker Center. I had good memories about this place from earlier visits, but this time I was rather disappointed. Too many tourists, too expensive. We had popiah, oyster omelet , kerang and stingray.
Our last day in George Town already. We had breakfast with Roti Goyang at the Roti Bakar in Hutton Lane. The soft-boiled eggs were really shaking (goyang) surrounded by the pieces of toast. Very nice.
The Sun Yat Sen Penang Basee was the last museum on our list. Sun Yat Sen had his office here in 1912 when he was looking for support for the Chinese revolution. More photos .
A last round of more mural art. Some of them quite nice, in the humoristic Zacharevic style. More photos .
Before taking the ferry back to Butterworth, we had lunch near our hotel, in restaurant Jawi . Peranakan food, friendly service.
After lunch we took the ferry back to Butterworth. Paul and Fahmi went back to KL, I stayed in Taiping for couple of days more, see my report Taiping, July 2019 .
It was nice to visit George Town. But as a result of being a Unesco Heritage Site, it has become very touristic. Fancy museums, I may be old-fashioned, but for me it doesn’t add value.
During my recent trip to Penang, I visited three museums.
The first one was the Khoo Kongsi, a large Chinese clan house in George Town. I had visited this kongsi already several times during earlier visits, so only a few pictures here. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions of George Town.
The present complex was rebuilt in 1906, after an earlier version was destroyed by lightning. Could it be that the gods were angry because it was too grand, resembling an imperial palace? So the present kongsi is more modest, although you would not say so, when you visit it 🙂 .
The walls of the temple are decorated with beautiful stone reliefs and carvings.
The temple contains de ancestral tablets. There is also a gallery with portraits of the Khoo family.
The second museum we visited was the Pinang Peranakan Mansion . Last year I had visited the Peranakan Museum in Singapore, click here for a report. But to be honest, I was not aware that there existed a Peranakan Museum in Penang! And the museum opened its doors already in 2004!
Now that I have visited it, I agree that it is one of the top attractions of George Town, not to be missed by any visitor!
The building is old, it was built in the 1890s as residence of Chung Keng Quee, the leader of the Hai San secret society . Irony of fate: the site was formerly used by its rival Ghee Hin secret society. That alone made my visit worthwhile already, because as a virtual “Taiping Boy”, I have read a lot about the fighting between the Hai San and the Ghee Hin during the Larut Wars !
Entrance fee is RM 20, not cheap, but worth the money. You can visit the mansion on your own, there is a lot to see. Or you can join a free guided tour.
For those not familiar with Malaysian history, the Peranakan , also known as Baba-Nyonya or Straits Chinese, are descendants of Chinese settlers who arrived from Southern China in the 15th-17th century. Their rich culture contains Chinese, Malay and European elements.
Here is a collection of photos I took during my visit.
Chung Keng Quee even built his own private temple next to his mansion.
The last museum I visited was the Sun Yat-sen museum. Sun Yat-sen was the leader of China’s republican revolution, overthrowing the Qing dynasty and the first president of the Republic of China. To get support from the overseas Chinese, he moved with his family to Penang in 1910 and organised his activities from this house.
The house was constructed circa 1880 and is a beautiful example of a Peranakan merchant home.
I had only limited time to visit the museum, will spend more time there during my next visit, because Mr Alvin, who takes care of the museum, is a gifted storyteller.
Actually Sun Yat-sen has also a link with Taiping! He had a house there in what is now the Antong Coffee Mill. His concubine lived there for many years and he visited it occasionally. See my report (scroll down).
During my recent visit to Georgetown, I took some pictures of colonial architecture. There is a lot to see!
On our first evening we walked to the Esplanade. On our way we passed St George’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in South East Asia, built in 1818.
The Esplanade is dominated by two magnificent buildings, the Town Hall and the City Hall. The City Hall, completed in 1880, is the oldest municipal building of George Town. It housed the Municipal Commission until 1903 when the Commission moved to a larger building next to it, the Municipal Offices. The Town Hall kept its function as meeting place for the European Elite. Nowadays it is used for public events, art exhibitions etc.
The Municipal Offices were one of the first buildings fitted with electrical lights! After Georgetown got city rights in 1957, the Municipal Offices were renamed to City Hall
The next day we explored Beach Street, where a concentration of impressive colonial architecture can be found. We started with the Jubilee Clock Tower, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee.
The next building, now housing the Penang Islamic Council, is all that remains of the Straits Settlement Government Buildings, destroyed by allied bombing in 1945 during the Japanese occupation.
Notice the eyesore next to the building. It is the Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce, I wonder who gave permission to build it.
The next building, now housing the Bank of China, is of special interest for a Dutchman, because it was built by the Nederlandse Handel-Maatchappij in 1905.
Next to it the Penang office of Tourism Malaysia. I was wondering if this was a colonial building or a modern one. Could not find much information until I stumbled on a blog George Town’s heritage bank buildings . Originally it was a Mercantile bank, later taken over by HSBC. Recently renovated. So it is an old building in a modern outfit.
The Saw Seng Kew building was originally known as the British India House. Built in the 1920, it has been used by many different companies. In 1965 Rubber Tycoon Saw Seng Kew started the Southern Banking Ltd in this building that now has been renamed after him.
At the right side of the above photo you can just see the corner of the India House. It was built in Art-Deco style, completed in 1941 and forms an striking contrast with the surrounding “older” architecture.
Next to the India House, this Philip Capital Building again dates back to the 1920s. I was wondering at first where the entrance of the parking was, until I noticed that the P is actually the logo of the company 🙂 .
The 1886 building is the oldest commercial building along Beach Street that has kept its original form. In the past it housed the Goon Yen emporium, nowadays it is part of the OCBC. A very attractive building.
Another gem, the Thio Thiaw Siat building. Named after a Chinese tycoon, who is better known under his Cantonese name Cheong Fatt Tze (who lived in the famous “Blue Mansion”). This building was built by his estate after he passed away in 1916.
The GeorgeTown Dispensary nextdoor, the main pharmacy of Penang in those days, wa originally located where now the TTS building is.
The Central Fire Station was built in 1908. Notice the mix of architectural styles, with a Classical facade and a Moghul-style tower 🙂
This building is not on Beach Street, but on Bishop Street. I could not find more information about this Cornfield building.
Finally a photo of the Penang Adventist Hospital (1924), nowadays a hotel, located on Muntri Street.
Five years ago, I visited Penang to have a look at the Mural Art, created by the Lithuanian artist Zacharevic in 2012. Here is my report: Penang Street Art. I like Zacharevic, his sense of humour, the way he is using existing objects for his creations. Even then there were already more artists active, some copying his style, sometimes good, more often mediocre.
I went back to Penang with my friends Paul and Fahmi, and to be honest, I was shocked by the proliferation that has taken place in these five years. There is hardly an empty wall anymore, mural art in almost every street. Really too much, IMHO. But I may be an exception in not appreciating this epidemic 🙂 . Here is a quote from Tripadvisor :
The highlight of Penang is literally the street arts. They are everywhere, every street, every corner. I have tons of photos of them. You don’t need a map but just don’t miss any street there. 🙂 .
Here are a few of Zacharevic’s creations. When you compare the pictures with those in my report, you will see that several of them have faded. Some even have been destroyed. Zacharevic has no problem with this, he is not making art for eternity. I like his attitude.
A few pictures of Mural Art in Zacharevic style, where you can interact with the artwork
Using existing elements.
Many more. Actually not bad, just that there are too many of them
Two artworks on the Chew Jetty. An original Zacharevic on this jetty has been destroyed.
There are many, many more, which often did not really appeal to me.
Recently I visited Penang for a 3D2N trip and I decided on my way back to stay in Taiping for a couple of nights. My friend Lay Chun picked me up from the station on arrival, late afternoon. She invited me for dinner in Matang. When we arrived at the Lemon Tree restaurant, I was surprised to find a large group already waiting for us. Lay Chun explained that a group of her friends was having regular gatherings and that my arrival coincided with one of those. I knew a few of them already , the atmosphere was pleasant and the food delicious. A good start of my visit.
The next day, early morning, my friends Henry Chan and Soon Lay picked me up from Furama hotel, for a day trip to caves and a waterfall in the Ipoh region. I have reported about this rewarding outing in a separate post: Two caves and a waterfall . Here three pictures to give you an impression.
The following day I finally met Syed Bakar ;-).
Taiping has two New Villages , Aulong and Pokok Assam, created around 1950 during the Malayan Emergency , to separate the villagers from the communist guerrillas in the jungle. With the help of my friends I have tried to find people who have been living in those villages and could tell me about life there, when the village was still fenced off with a gate and a curfew.
Last year I met a man who has been living in Aulong, but not from the beginning, click here (scroll down) to read more about it . Lay Chun suggested I should contact Syed Bakar, who has been living in Pokok Assam. I did, by phone and whatsapp, and it clicked immediately 🙂
But meeting him was not so easy, because, even at 83 years old, he is a busy man. An art teacher (formerly in Malay College), now still giving classes in Penang and Kota Kinabalu, often not at home.
This time he was at home and free to chat !
First I had breakfast, Chee Cheong Fun at Mr Tong’s shop. You have to be early, otherwise it is sold out.
I walked back to my hotel, where Syed picked me up and took me to Assam Kumbang where he is living now. I liked his place, full of paintings and books.
We chatted for several hours, he is a very good storyteller! He moved to Pokok Assam with his family in 1950 when he was a teenager. Life was not easy, they had to start building a house on the assigned plot of 90 x 45 feet, timber was not easy to obtain. I should have recorded our conversation 🙂
After our chat Syed drove me around in Pokok Assam. Of course a lot has changed, he pointed out a few houses that still are more or less original. The medical post is an abandoned ruin now. The last picture is of the house where he was born, outside Pokok Assam.
It would be a good idea for the Taiping Heritage Society to invite him to give a talk!
After this fascinating meeting, I went for lunch to Doli, a restaurant close to Furama, famous for its Malay Kuey Teow Goreng.
Walking back to my hotel, I passed this former cinema, abandoned already as long as I visit Taiping. I was wondering if it could be one of the Iversen cinemas If one of my readers has more info, please let me know.
I had a relaxed Sunday afternoon. The Lake Gardens, the Raintree Walk, the Playground, what else do you need to be happy?
Later I had dinner with my friend Amril. He is very knowledgeable about everything that is going on in Taiping 🙂 . Last year I visited the history gallery of St George’s, but did’t manage to visit the history gallery of King Edwards VII, see my report Taiping again. Amril told me that there are actually two history galleries in KEVII, one in the Primary school and one in the Secondary school! Just go to the office, explain your interest and ask permission to visit the gallery, he advised
And that’s what I did. Next morning, after breakfast with my friend Yeap at Lian Thong (yummy eggs on toast), he dropped me at KEVII .
First I went to the office of the Secondary school, very friendly people, Mr Siva went with me, opened the gallery (normally closed) and guided me around. He is an old Edwardian, has also been teaching there, and knows a lot about the school .
An interesting collection of various school paraphernalia and photos. For example a photo gallery of all the principals of the school. I took a picture of Mr Long’s photo , because I was planning to visit Mrs Long, who is a friend of mine.
Mr SIva presented me with a coffee table book, published in 2008, about the history of the school, from 1883 until 1983. Much appreciated!
From the Secondary school I walked to the Primary one, where the reception was equally friendly. Here it was Mr Fadzil, an art teacher who guided me around.
The first railway in Perak, from Port Weld to Taiping had its station at the present school grounds. When this station was moved to its present location, King Edwards was built. The most interesting exhibit in the gallery, was the collection of artefacts, discovered during construction of new halls, remnants of the railway.
The school was expecting other visitors from a teacher training college, students were busy cleaning and arranging trophies etc.
One picture for the album 😉
After my visit he joined me to the nearby Ansari Cendol where I had cendol and pasembor for lunch. We had a very pleasant conversation, about many different topics.
One of our topics was durian, the King of Fruits, which we both love. I don’t trust myself to buy them, so I was pleased when Mr Fadzil told me that he would join me, later in the afternoon, after he had picked up his kids from school.
We had kampung durian, very nice, and surprisingly cheap, I paid only RM 10 for a big durian !
Before walking back to my hotel I visited Mrs Long, showed her the photo of her late husband, and had a nice chat with her. She is a good story teller too!
After a short rest, I went out again to have dinner with my friend May Cheah. We went to the restaurant in the Shun Tak Association building. Good food and another pleasant chat.
My last day, time was going fast with all my “social” activities :-). My friend Halim had invited me for breakfast at his place, with Yeap. Both are committee members of the Taiping Heritage Society.
After breakfast Halim drove me around the town and showed me some places, he liked. Here we are at Austin Pool.
He brought me back to the hotel and after my check out, picked me up again to drop me at the station.
One reason that I feel so at ease in Taiping is the friendliness and hospitality of the Taipingites.
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!
No big plans for this visit. Actually I had one specific plan. Through a friend I came in contact with Syed Bakar, a retired teacher who has been living from 1952 until about 1995 in Pokok Assam. Pokok Assam is one of the New Villages, created during the Malayan Emergency, and I am interested in its history. But he was away during my visit, giving art classes in Sabah (although now 83 year old !), so meeting him will have to wait until my next visit 😉
I will write this blog as a kind of diary.
Monday, 25 March
I arrived in Taiping in the afternoon, traveling by ETS, comfortable, but bring some warm clothes! Preparing for the trip I could not find my umbrella, which you definitely need in Malaysia’s wettest town. Fortunately it was sunny when I arrived and I decided to walk to my hotel. First I stopped at Ansari for cendol. There I bumped into May Cheah, an old friend.
I decided to buy an umbrella in the Taiping Mall and just before I reached there, the first raindrops fell. When I continued my walk, with umbrella, it was absolutely pouring. As I was hungry, I managed to reach Casual Market for a plate of Char Koay Teow, but there I had to wait until the rain got less.
I had booked a room in my favourite Hotel Furama and after taking some rest I went out to Prima for a light meal of Chee Cheong Fun. After the heavy rain the atmosphere was cool and fresh. I walked back having a look at the beautifully restored Shun Tak Association and the Silver Jubilee Jetty (1932). A nice first day.
Tuesday, 26 March
I had breakfast with my friend Yeap at the Lian Thong restaurant. It is a popular eatery in Taiping. Yummie soft-boiled eggs on toast! The shop is housed in an attractive building, just forget about the ugly background.
No blog about Taiping is complete without a few pictures of the Lake Gardens. The fallen tree at the Raintree Walk is very attractive.
I hired a bicycle at hotel Furama, so I could explore a few places further away from the town centre. My first destination was the Kempe Club in Assam Kumbang. Built in 1922 as an alternative for the more posh New Club . In its heydays very popular with sport fields around the club. Now no longer an official club, but a group of (senior) citizens uses the building for their meetings.
The caretaker invited me in and offered me teh tarik. More people arrived and a game of mahjong was started. The different races mix here easily like in the days of yore. Very pleasant atmosphere.
My next stop was an abandoned pre-war bungalow, next to the official residence of the MPT chairman (who recently received in Berlin an award for Taiping being third in the Best of Cities category in the world). See my report About Taiping.
It must have been an impressive bungalow until it was abandoned about 20 years ago. It may have been occupied by government servants (KE VII school staff?
Now it is an impressive ruine, you can just walk around and enter it (at your own risk). I must confess that I am fascinated by decaying buildings, but of course it is a shame that the authorities have allowed this to happen.
For my lunch I went to the Casual Market, the Malay section, where I had a plate of popiah’s at Famous OMar Popiah.
I had dinner in Prima with my friends George and Jenny, and I invited them for coffee and cake at Yinn’s Patisserie, next to Yeap’s shop. A few years ago beautifully renovated by the brother of Yeap. Thean Hock was in the cafe and happy to show us around.
Wednesday 27 March
A “social” morning. I went to Tong’s CCF shop for breakfast with George, who was in Taiping for Cheng Beng and , not surprisingly, met a former classmate ;-). After that I visited Suet Fun, who has closed the Nest bungalow, up Maxwell Hill, for one year, because she is going to write a book about Maxwell Hill. I wish her good luck!
My next destination was the Taiping Municipal Gallery, which was now open, although still only partially operational. But at least there are several posters and banners about the things you can see and do in Taiping.
I met the friendly manager and asked her if she had ever visited the ruined Railway building opposite the Gallery. She had not yet, because she was a bit scared of the squatter who had taken the building as his “residence”. I had a look, he was not there and , with me as a guide, she and her assistant were brave enough to have a look inside 😉 .
In the afternoon my friend Bok Kin and her husband Ng Teng Hin picked me up from my hotel to visit the tomb of Ng Boo Bee and his relatives. Ng Boo Bee is the most famous tin miner, opium farmer and contractor in the history of British Malaya and Teng Hin is a great-grandson.
The grave is located in the Hokkien Cemetery of Taiping. Cheng Beng was approaching, when Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors for cleaning and prayers. Ng Boo Bee’s grave is almost a fortress, very impressive.
My friends told me that last year the grave had been thoroughly cleaned and repaired, they walked around and inspected it, but everything still looked in good condition.
There are also graves of descendants, both around the main grave and on a separate plot. From left to right, the graves of Ng Boo Bee’s mistress, one of his sons, and a grandson (Teng Hin’s father).
The graves are decorated with statues of lions and guardians.
I like to visit cemeteries, see for example my recent post about KL Cemeteries. We walked around a bit, beautiful trees, there is a War Memorial for those who lost their lives during the Japanese occupation. And there is cattle roaming around, not always good for the graves, but very romantic.
After visiting the cemetery we had dinner in West Joy Cafe, near Prima. Nice Thai food, will come back.
Thursday 28 March
My original plan was to go back home by train on Thursday. But when our Singapore friend ST Lee told me that he was coming back for Cheng Beng that day, and would like to meet me, I changed my plan: Aric decided to come by car, we would stay one more day in Taiping and drive back on Friday. I got a 50% refund on my train return ticket 😉
I decided to hire a bike again and first went back to Lian Thong for my breakfast. Soft-boiled eggs on toast again ;-). Had a nice conversation with Teoh, the owner.
When I told in my hotel about my cemetery visit, they told me about an isolated tombstone on the slope of Residence Hill, near the esplanade. I had a look, there are actually three tombstones, one of them recently painted, so somebody must take care about it. Would be nice to know who has been buried there.
Next I went to the Tourism Office in the Clocktower. Had a short chat with Miss Eng, she was busy as there were several visitors. A good sign, although the interior still looks more like an antique shop and there should be more leaflets, etc.
With my bicycle it was easy to ride the full length of Jalan Kota and take pictures of the heritage buildings along this street. Clockwise, from top left the Residence of the OBJ, the building of the Hokkien Association , the Malay Mosque ( oldest mosque of Taiping) and the Hosian Temple.
The Mariamman Temple can also be found along Jalan Kota. I was invited in, a priest prayed for me and I received some ash on my forehead. Nice.
I was clearly in the Cheng Beng mood and decided to have a look at the Hai San Communal Memorial, located in the new Botanical Garden of Taiping. Hai San and Ghee Hin were the two fighting groups of Chinese during the Larut wars. This grave is dated 1864 and could well be the oldest monument of Taiping.
The Botanical Garden is still under development and looks a bit barren.
Close by is the impressive Taiping War Cemetery, immaculately maintained, with separate sections for Christians and the other religions.
I rode back to my hotel through the Lake Gardens. I will hire a bicycle more often during my future visits, Taiping is very suitable for cycling and the bicycles of Furama Hotel are very good quality.
Aric arrived in the afternoon and, after some rest, we drove to Barrack Road 100 to meet St Lee and his sister Mrs Long. It was a very pleasant meeting with dinner in the Chinese Recreation Club (CRC).
Friday 29 March
The next morning we took them to the new Telegraph Museum, which they found interesting.
ST got quite excited when he saw this railway bridge (actually not related to the museum, but to the former First Galleria next door). This bridge has been relocated here from Bukit Mertajam and ST (who is from BM) has been crossing this bridge numerous times when he was schooling!
Then it was already time for a farewell meal! We went to the Lighthouse Restaurant in Matang and enjoyed their famous seafood porridge. Delicious.