Pat and Roger’s visit

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 ūüėČ .

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ . 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 ūüėČ ? 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 ūüėČ .

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!

Two caves and a waterfall

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.

We share an interest in nature, especially waterfalls, and we have made several trips together. Here are the reports : Trip to Kedah and Penang, Tasik Kenyir and Trip up North .

Henry and his wife Soon Lay live in Lunas, but they also have a house in Taiping, my 2nd hometown ūüôā . 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.

The cave has been in the news recently because of a fossil animal skeleton inside the cave. In this newspaper article: Rare tiger fossil in cave at Gopeng, Perak, must be preserved more information can be found. My caving friend Liz Price has reported several times about the cave and the fossil, advocating that it should be better preserved.

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.

Nice surroundings.

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 ūüôā . 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!

Looking forward to a next adventure with them!

Versatile Perak

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

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…:-)

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).

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 ūüôĀ

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.

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.

Versatile Perak!

Gunung Rapat Cave Temples

Gunung Rapat is a limestone hill, south of Ipoh. When you drive the no 1 trunk road from KL to Ipoh, you will pass  a number of Chinese temples, built in the limestone caves of Gunung Rapat. One or two I must have visited in the past and several times I have been to the Kek Lok Tong temple, on the other side of the hill.

Searching the Internet I found 8 major temples on the slopes of Gunung Rapat and I decided to make it a project to visit all of them during a visit of Ipoh. Here are the results. In the Google Earth screenshot below, the locations of the eight temples are given.

We started our trip with a visit of Tasik Cermin, the Mirror Lake. Until not long ago this was a “secret” location, known only to a few people. The lake is located within a quarry and can only be reached through a tunnel. Access was not always allowed by the quarry owner. This time it looked like quarry operations had stopped, there was no entrance barrier and we were told that the lake is nowadays becoming popular for wedding shoots!

If there is no wind, the water is really like a mirror, but during our visit there was a breeze. Aric tried to operate his drone, but between the steep cliff walls, GPS reception was not good enough.

Da Seng Ngan

Our first temple. When we visited Tasik Cermin in January 2017 (read my blog here), we noticed that there was a cave temple nearby. We visited it and the caretaker told us that the temple is quite old but has been covered by a landslide for many decades, and was only rediscovered in 2006! Restoration has now been almost completed. To get funding, devotees can “sponsor” statues of the Amitabha Buddha. For more information, click here .

From this temple you can actually walk to the Kwan Yin Tong temple nearby, but we were by car, had to u-turn twice on the busy trunk road, which made it more efficient to first visit the Ling Sen Tong temple.

Ling Sen Tong 

There are three temples along the trunk road next to each other, when you leave Ipoh. Lin Seng Tong is the first one, and that might be the reason that it is quite touristy and gaudy. A bit too touristy, we did not spend much time there

Nam Thean Tong 

The second one, next to Lin Seng Tong. A 19th-century Taoist cave temple with colorful shrines.

We explored the elaborate network of steep, dark stairs. Interesting, but a bit rundown

The third temple is Sam Poh Tong, but it was closed when we arrived there in the afternoon. It even looked closed indefinitely, we continued to the Kwan Yin Tong temple

Kwan Yin Tong 

Dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Numerous statues of Guan Yin. An attractive Buddhist temple

Then it was time for food, always an important aspect of our trips ūüôā¬† For dinner we went to a food court, where we ordered deep-fried Mantis prawns, sotong with kangkung, popiah and¬†teochew kueh, everything nice, but way too much..¬† Breakfast next morning at Chooi Yue, one of the famous dim sum restaurants in Ipoh. Good quality dim sum, many varieties.

Unfortunately it was raining heavily the next day, a real downpour. Before continuing our temple tour, our Ipoh friend took us first to another “mirror lake” location, a former tin mining pond at the Iskandar Polo Club. Attractive scenery.

Kek Lok Tong

We started with the Kek Lok Tong temple, the most beautiful of the Gunung Rapat cave temples, in my opinion. In the 1920’s it was already a place of worship. In the 1960’s it became part of an iron mining site, the entrance to the cave was widened to allow lorry access.¬†¬†When mining ceased it was dedicated again to religious purposes and opened to visitors in the 1970s.

Interesting feature of this temple is that after entering and crossing the cave, you will exit to a beautiful garden. Because of the heavy downpour we could not visit the garden this time. Here you see the laughing Buddha, contemplating the view of this garden.

Searching the Internet, I had found two more temples on the North side of Gunung Rapat

Panna Tong

The first one, Panna Tong, was closed, so only a photo of the exterior. By the way, tong means cave in Chinese language

Miaw Yuan Chan Lin

The second one was a pleasant surprise. It is a Thai style Buddhist temple and relatively unknown, compared to the popular, more touristy  temples on the West side of Gunung Rapat. Nice environment, very scenic.

When I play tour guide again for my friends, I will include this temple in the itinerary!

Sam Poh Tong

Before finishing our temple trip, we decided to go back to Sam Poh Tong, because I had checked on the Internet that the temple was not closed forever. And indeed, now it was open, we were told that the day before they had closed early because there were no visitors!

It is quite a large temple complex, but as it was still raining, we did not explore everything. We had a look at the famous turtle pond and bought some kangkung to feed the turtles. But we did not enter the gardens, because of the rain. Will have to come back here.

In the afternoon I continued to Taiping, but that will be another post.

My friend David May has written informative web pages about many of the Ipoh cave temples, for example this one about Da Seng Ngan, with references to other temples.

 

Taiping, January 2017

On our way to Taiping, we wanted to visit the Mirror Lake in Ipoh and try to find Japanese graves in Pokok Assam. But the weather was not favorable, so we skipped it (see the end of this report), but still arrived  rather late in Taiping, just in time to have assam laksa and cendol in the Old Railway Station. We had booked a room in the Furama hotel and had dinner in Siang Malam with our friend May.

Before our dinner we still had time to walk around in the Lake Gardens, this time not only to enjoy the beauty of it, but also to start the project I had planned…:-). Notice the two bridges¬†below, at the right. They show¬†the same bridge, but one¬†picture¬†is from about one century ago.

I had collected a number of old (postcard) pictures, and the next morning I met friends from the Taiping Heritage Society for a walk through the town, looking for the location from where the old pictures were taken, and then take a new one from that location. It was not always easy but big fun, the result can be found in a separate report,  Taiping, old and new .

In the afternoon we¬†were invited by May for High Tea in ¬†her “Maywarmers Lodge”, where we met Suet and Peter, who are now residing in the Nest bungalow, a place I hope to visit soon. After that we met Paul and Fahmi, who had come to Taiping to visit a waterfall the next day. First we¬†had dinner in Yut Sun, a Taiping landmark, famous for its Hainanese Chicken Chop. Then we walked¬†to the Government Office, one of the many Taiping firsts. There was a pasar malam, many people , relaxed atmosphere.

The next day, the four of us went on a waterfall hike to two Taiping falls, the Kamunting fall (left) and the Maxwell fall (right).The last part of the Kamunting hike is very steep, access to the Maxwell fall is easy. I wrote a separate report about this hike, Taiping Waterfalls.

After the hike, Paul and Fahmi drove back to KL, we had a lazy afternoon, with dinner in Prima (popiah’s, otak otak and oyster omelet). After our dinner we visited the Taiping Mall, mainly because there are some panels with historical pictures of Taiping.

The next morning, after breakfast we first went to Pokok Assam. My THS friend Amril had given a detailed description of the field were the tombstones were to be found. Landmark was a huge tree with a small Hindu temple. in one corner of the field.

Exploring the field, we found a number of isolated tombstones. Some of them had engravings, which Aric could decipher as being Chinese. No Japanese tombstones. But one of my friends who lived in Pokok Assam as a teenager, told me that he had taken Japanese officials (?) to the graves. He thought that maybe the remains had been exhumed and taken back to Japan. Another THS friend thought the existing tombstones might have been erected for people who had died in the hospital without next of kin. It was an interesting excursion.

Here a collage of the tombstones we found

On our way back home we still had time enough to visit Tasik Cermin, the “secret” Mirror Lake near Ipoh. I had been there before, Aric would like to have a look himself. The lake is located in an active quarry and can only be reached through a tunnel. There was a warning sign at the entrance of the tunnel that access¬†was not allowed¬†because a few months earlier a piece of rock had fallen down and damaged the platform. We trespassed and had a (quick) look.

The quarry is located only a few hundred meters from the trunk road no 1. Driving back we noticed a sign for a Chinese temple. There are several well known temples in this region, for example Kek Lok Tong and Sam Poh Tong, but this one was new for us. The name of this temple is  Da Seng Ngan. The caretaker said it was actually an old temple, but long time covered by a landslide, and only rediscovered in 2006. More information can be found here .

As you can see in the GE map below, there are many temples on the slopes of Gunung Rapat. Could become an interesting new project…:-)

 

Taiping & more

By now my interest in the history of Taiping, my 2nd hometown,  must be clear to followers of this blog..:-). I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society , which has about 600 members. It is a closed group, but you are welcome to join, if you are interested in the history of Taiping.

Surfing the Internet, I recently came across the FB page of Encik Anuar Isa, the curator of the (now closed) First Galleria . I was intrigued by this entry, published in 2014:

Old_house

Intrigued but also puzzled. The Hj Abdullah mentioned by Anuar Isa is Abdullah Muhammad Shah II , the 26th sultan of Perak. In 1875, he was accused of being involved in the murder of British Resident JWW Birch and exiled to the Seychelles in 1876. Could this be his house?

I published the picture on the THS whatsapp, asking if anybody had more info about this house. A few weeks later another THS member, Amril, also interested in the history of Taiping, replied that he had found the house and more information about it. The house was built in 1926 by a famous bomoh. Interesting but not related to Hj Abdullah and Isabella Bird never visited it.

A good reason for me to visit Taiping again and visit this house..:-)  I decided for a 3D2N trip and, as Aric was busy, asked my friends Paul and Fahmi to accompany me. Here is the report, actually about a lot more than Taiping..:-)

We left KL Friday morning and only had to be in Taiping in the afternoon, as we were invited by¬†Amril to attend the Open House of his father, the OBJ of Larut, Matang and Selama. We decided to visit Kellie’s castle, as Fahmi had never been there.

For a history of the castle, click here. It has been renovated and embellished in recent years, making it a popular tourist attraction, although it has made the atmosphere less romantic. But still worth a visit.

Kellie's Castle

Our next destination was the Ulu Lecin waterfalls near Beruas, but when we arrived there, it started raining, so we decided to skip this and continue to Taiping where I had booked rooms in hotel Furama. Close to the Lake Gardens and within walking distance of the town center.

After a short rest and a change of clothes, we drove to the residence of the OBJ. The open house was held between 3 and 6 pm, I was expecting Malaysian timing, i.e. that it would start later. Mistake, when we arrived around 4:30, most of the food was finished already and many guests were leaving…:-) ¬†No problem, there was still enough food and friendly company…:-) Amril was there to introduce me to his parents and I met ¬†Abdur-Razzaq Lubis and his wife Salma, authors of many books about the history of Perak.

The Residence of the OBJ  was built in 1893 for the wife of Ngah Ibrahim. Before that time she had been living many years in what is now Kota Ngah Ibrahim in Matang. Of course both the Kota and this house have been enlarged and renovated many times. Interesting to note that the present OBJ is actually a descendant of Ngah Ibrahim.

The exterior of the residence and the main hall on the first floor.

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After the open house we went back to our hotel and walked to the Lake gardens. It often rains in the afternoon in Taiping, but this day it was very beautiful weather. Shall we make a boat-ride on the lake?¬† , I suggested. I have visited the Lake gardens numerous times, but never rented a paddle boat! It was fun, but more tiring than expected…:-)

A visit of Taiping is not complete without enjoying the food. Often it is Chinese food I have there, but this time it was it was mostly Indian/Malay/Mamak fare.

The next day I had arranged with Amril to meet him in the afternoon to visit the bomoh house. Our plan for the rest of the day was to visit the region around Batu Kurau, north of Taiping. Main target: the Air Hitam waterfall

We parked our car at the gate of the water catchment area.  When we were preparing for the hike, a friendly local passed us with the durians he had just harvested. He offered us one for free, and we could pick more, if we saw them on the ground.

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It is an easy walk along a clear trail until you can see the waterfall. A small trail brings you down to the river. It was a Saturday, but there were no other visitors and the waterfall was pristine, no rubbish!Air Hitam fall

It is a nice, powerful waterfall. We spent quite some time there, taking many pictures, making coffee and of course enjoying the durians. A very enjoyable morning.

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On our way back to Taiping, we had a look at “my” barbershop, near Anak Kurau. I call it “my” barbershop, because I have been there three times for a haircut and the barber knows me…:-) The shop is built against the limestone cliffs and the last time I payed RM 5 only. During my recent¬†Taiping trip it was closed because of Ramadan. This time¬†it was closed too, the neighbour explained that the barber had gone our for lunch. Next time, better luck..:-)

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Near to the shop, there is a cafe and a small cave. A good location to take pictures.

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A trail starting from the cafe, follows the river for a while. Beautiful limestone formations, where Fahmi could not resist to show his climbing power…:-)

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Then it was time to go back to Taiping, where we had a simple lunch in the Saiful restaurant at Changkat Jering, while waiting for Amril. He took us first to his friend, Encik Zamberi, living nearby. Zamberi could be called the local Taiping historian, he has written many books and knows a lot about the local history.

He showed us his beautiful library, apologised that it was a bit messy, because one week later there would be a wedding dinner. Then he took us to the bomoh house. The present owner, a descendant of the bomoh, is a friend of him. The friend had gone for the Hajj, the house was closed, but a caretaker opened it for us. Beautiful interior.

After this visit, Zamberi suggested to visit another old Malay house, with interesting interior details. Although coming unannounced, we were¬†warmly welcomed by the couple living there, Malay hospitality at its best…:-)

As it was getting late, we skipped a visit to Long Jaafar’s tomb, where Amril’s ancestors are buried. It was a nice afternoon, a real pleasure to meet Encik Zamberi and Amril, I hope and expect it will not be the last time.

We went for dinner to a Yong Tau Foo foodcourt. Many shops, all serving yong tau foo. Malay style, quite different from the (Ampang) yong tau foo I am used to.

The next day, before driving back to KL, I had to show Paul the “Shame of Taiping”. Some historical buildings in Taiping¬†(presenting itself as a Heritage Town!), are just left to themselves, decaying¬†slowly. And not in a remote part¬†of the town, no, just opposite the prestigious King Edwards school. Pictures without comment

The Town Rest House (1894) is another example. It has been fenced off, the fence is decorated with posters, promoting the many “Firsts” of Taiping, but one of the posters was torn. Again! In my 2nd¬†hometown report¬†I also wrote about a torn poster and that it was replaced after I had complained about it. Let’s wait and see if this happens again …:-)

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We had breakfast at¬†the January cafe in the Old Railway Station. During my last visit I met¬†Mei Chong¬†who, with her sister Mei Chee, is running this cafe. I admire their energy and want to support them…:-) ¬†So, when you visit Taiping ( or live there), have a coffee or some waffles in the January Cafe! ¬†There is also a gallery next to the cafe with historical pictures of Taiping, and outside the building they have collected some old bicycles. Which we had to try of course…:-)

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After our breakfast we drove back to KL. I still had many ideas about places we could visit on our way (Pasir Salak, Batu Gajah, Papan, the Tualang tin dredge). But we had done already a lot and were getting a bit tired.

Then I got an idea. I had heard a lot about the “mysterious” Tasik Cermin,¬†in¬†Ipoh. Also seen pictures of this “Mirror Lake”. I knew that it was¬†somewhere around Gunung Rapat, and could be accessed only¬†via¬†an active quarry and a tunnel. .According to some reports. the quarry owner¬†did no longer allow access to the lake. Why not try to find it

How to go there? Surprisingly, by just following the Waze app on my smartphone…:-) The wonders of the Internet. When we arrived at the entrance of the quarry, there was indeed a No Entry sign. But no security guards, and we noticed a few more people walking in. So we did the same..:-) ¬†A big quarry, we had to ask a friendly worker where¬†the entrance of the tunnel¬†was.

And here it is, Tasik Cermin. A mirror lake indeed. Beautiful and serene.

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The tunnel ends at a jetty with a platform where you can sit down and admire the lake. There is no path around the lake. A few pictures

Back home, I tried to find more information about this lake. One reference mentioned the coffee-table book about the history of the Kinta Valley.  I have a copy of that book, here is the relevant passage:

GunungRapat

The writers of this book? ¬†Lubis and Salma, whom I just had met a few days earlier..:-) As I have said many times, Malaysia is a small world…:-)

It was a trip full of variety, as usual.

Ipoh Murals

Two¬†years ago I published a post about Penang Street Art¬†, and one year ago one about¬†Street Art in KL. Using walls of buildings as a “canvas” for works¬†of art is becoming more and more popular these days. Sometimes/often of mediocre quality. But when I heard that Zacharevic¬†had created a series of murals in Ipoh, I wanted to see them. Because this artist adds¬†something special to his creations.

The seven murals are all in the old part of Ipoh, and on walking distance from each other. Here is a map. The Kinta river is at the right, the padang at the top. The Zacharevic murals are indicated with red markers and names in yellow. We found a few others, marked in blue.

Map

Here are two characteristic Zacharevic murals, incorporating real-life items, a chair, a trishaw. The left picture shows a girl, standing on a stool, reaching up to a birdcage, holding the air vent for support. To the right a man loading a trishaw.

These 3D murals¬†of course invite the spectator to become part of the artwork..:-). And¬†the concept is easy to copy. The two anonymous murals Beer and Lunch have probably been commissioned by nearby¬†cafes…:-). The difference in quality is obvious.

Many of Zach’s¬†creations here in Ipoh are large, like Paper Plane, high up a wall and ¬†Old Uncle, where he even uses the wooden planks of the building.

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Here are two more, the left one is titled Kopi O, the right one Hummingbird.

All the murals have explanatory plaques. You may wonder about the hummingbird, hovering in the air. Looks like something is missing..:-). When Zacharevic created this mural, there still was a huge tree. but it has been cut now, with only a stump left. No problem, in interviews Zach has said that his art is not meant for  eternity. Even the murals themselves will fade over time. Personally I like his approach.

The most impressive mural is called Evolution and its theme is the tin mining industry that made Ipoh and the Kinta Valley famous.

On our walk we found another Zacharevic mural, an attractive one. Maybe not included because the theme (Kopi O) is the same as the big one. We also found a horse statue, without any explanation. And we met an artist, Mr Woon, working on a mural, commissioned by the owner of a nearby shop. A friendly man, he showed us his atelier.

When you visit Ipoh, you should have a look at these murals! And you will probably find more…:-)