Taiping Waterfalls

During a recent stay in Taiping I have revisited two waterfalls, the Maxwell Hill Fall and the Kamunting Fall. Here is a GE map of the region with my GPS data.

When the English explorer Isabella Bird visited Taiping in 1879, she stayed in the Residency and wrote:

The house on my side has a magnificent view of the beautiful Hijan hills, down which a waterfall tumbles in a broad sheet of foam only half a mile off

It was the Maxwell Fall she saw and admired, although she was wrong in her estimate of the distance, which is about 1,5 mile. You can still see the fall from the Lake Gardens. The Kamunting fall is visible from Taman Bukit Emas.

The trail head for both falls is the same. It starts from the water treatment plant. Until a few years ago you could follow the tar road until the gate, where the trail started. Nowadays the last part of that road is out of bounds, an alternative trail starts just after the bridge near the Indian temple. Here are my buddies Aric, Paul and  Fahmi at the trail head. It is quite a step climb, ropes come in handy.

Steep but not far. Soon you reach a wider trail, where you can turn right to the Maxwell fall, only a short distance away. We decided to visit the Kamunting fall first and turned left. You have to skirt the fencing of the water treatment plant,  and be careful with the barbed wire.

But after this part you reach a beautiful, romantic trail, next to a pipeline that transports water from a dam in the Ranting river to the plant. Pure bliss.

About one hundred meter before reaching the reservoir, you can see a rope leading up a steep slope to your right. Here ends the easy part of the hike…:-). You have to scramble up the slope, fortunately it had not rained. Many ropes and also clear markers. Too busy scrambling to take pictures.

After the steep slope, the trail levels a bit, you will hear the sound of falling water and soon your each the waterfall. It is a tall cascade, the rocky face is visible on Google Earth. Not a lot of water this time, but still quite impressive.

Not a real pool, but a good place to take a shower. There must be more waterfalls downstream and it may be possible, though not easy, to climb to the top. We were content with this fall and found a nice place to relax and have coffee. I had brought a stove and was the barista..:-)

Here is a short video of the Kamunting fall. Actually I don’t know if this is the real name of the fall. The river is the Sg Ranting, so the name could also be Lata Ranting.

Aric installed his tripod and with his remote he was able to take a picture of the four of us. One for the album, in my opinion.

Then it was time to go back. Now that we had reached our target, I felt more at ease and took some pictures.

After we had scrambled down the slope, we had a look at the dam, where the pipe line started. The trail also stops here, we did not explore further, but walked back.

Don’t visit this fall if you are afraid of leeches. There were many..:-). To stop the bleeding, a small piece of tissue paper is very effective.

When we reached the trail going down to the road, the Maxwell Fall was so near that we decided to have  a look. Here it is.

Also here I took a short video.

We ended this successful waterfall hike with delicious assam laksa and cendol at a stall in the Old Railway Station, one of the many heritage sites of Taiping.

 

Taiping old and new

For quite some time already I have been  playing with the idea of creating a blog post about Taiping heritage, comparing old photographs with recent pictures .

Problem was to find suitable old photographs. Searching the Internet did not give many results. Then I discovered the book Perak Postcards 1890s-1940s  , compiled by Abdur Razzaq Lubis et al. and published by Areca Books . The book starts with a chapter about Taiping and contains numerous postcard pictures, suitable for my project. I have scanned several of these postcards and downloaded them to my iPad.

Recently I visited Taiping. Armed with my iPad,  and in the company of a few friends, we went looking for the locations from where the postcard pictures  were originally taken.

That was fun, but not always easy. We had to judge the camera position, the focal length used, etc. Landscape and townscape had changed, often dramatically

Here are the results. A scan of the book page is followed by an old postcard and a new picture.

Often the exact date of the originals can not be determined. When the postcard has been sent, sometimes the postage stamp can be read.

The Taiping chapter starts with a description of the town and a picture of the Central Market.

 

The Central Market was built in 1884/1885

The market is still in use, but there are plans to relocate it and renovate the old structure.

Hopefully the result will not become like Central Market in KL…:-(

 

This postcard was sent in 1927

The present situation. Note that a few houses to the left are still there.

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The original Taiping Railway Station was built in 1885 on the site of the present King Edward VII School. Relocated to its present location at the end of the 19th century.

The postcard is undated

 

The old railway station.And the “new” one. No longer in use as a station, now a heritage site. The modern station is situated to the right._______________________________________________________________________

 

The prestigious King Edwards School, founded in 1883 and relocated to its present location in 1905

 

 

 

 

An undated postcard. The Angsana trees in front of the school, were planted in 1910 and are already fully grown here.This postcard has a caption on the reverse side with a date: 1929And here is the present situation. Note that two of the original Angsana trees are still standing, now more than 100 years old._______________________________________________________________________

 

St George’s Institution, another famous Taiping school, opened in 1915 by the Lasallian Brothers.

 

 

 

The postcard is undated, but the building was extended with two wings in 1928, so the picture must have been taken before that time.The present building. Now a government school, but still with a cross on top of the roof.

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Opposite the original railway station a Rest House was built in 1894

 

 

 

 

The postcard is undated.The sad present situation. Until 2008 it has been a hotel, Lagenda,  I have been staying there a few times. Since 2008 it is closed and slowly going down the drain. I have called it the “Shame of Taiping”. ________________________________________________________________________

 

The government offices, started in 1895 and opened in 1898

 

 

 

 

 

The postcard is undated. Present situation. It now houses the Larut-Matang District offcice. During daytime the space in front of the building is used as a parking lot. This picture was taken during the weekend. Note that in the center an extra (fake) gable has been added with the year 1897_______________________________________________________________________

 

The Perak museum, the first museum in the country, was started in 1883 in former government offices. It was expanded with the growing collection and completed in 1902

 

 

The postcard has been artificially colored and was used in 1912Present situation. Basically unchanged after more than a century!_______________________________________________________________________

 

The Standard Chartered Bank, opened in 1888.

 

 

 

 

 

The postcard is undated.Now the building is in use as the Public Library. The “messy” foreground makes a comparison complicated, but it is clear that the the building has been substantially enlarged.________________________________________________________________________

 

One of my favourite buildings in Taiping. Built as the State Engineer’s Residence in the early 1900s. Later used as the British Officer’s Mess

 

 

The postcard was used in 1911. In this picture it is still the residence of the State EngineerPresent situation. Note that center gable has been removed

 

In this postcard the building has already been transformed in the officer’s mess.

 

 

 

 

The central part has now been modified.There is hardly any difference between old and new!________________________________________________________________________

The iconic clock tower of Taiping, built in 1881 in wood, later rebuilt in brick (1900). Longtime in use as a police post

 

 

This is a real photo of the police clock tower on Kota Road. Taken late 1930sNote how the clock tower has “dwindled” in this recent picture, surrounded by large modern structures. There is at least still one original building left, try to find it.________________________________________________________________________

 

It is not easy to compare old and new in the Lake Gardens, landscape and trees have changed often beyond recognition.

Here are two postcards of one of the nice bridges.

 

A wooden footbridge in the Lake Gardens, with the Secretary to the Resident’s bungalow in the background. The card has been used in 1912 The present situation. The bungalow is no longer visible  through the trees. Note the ugly metal railing of the bridgeAnother, later view of the same bridge And the present view________________________________________________________________________

The Perak Postcards book contains many more pictures of Taiping. In this post just a selection I have made to find out if it was possible to take new pictures and compare the two. I am pleased with the result.

One scanned postcard I was unable to identify. Here it is. It is supposed to be Main Road (Jalan Taming Sari) in the direction of the government offices. But where on Main Road? We showed the picture to several locals, but without success.

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With Google I have found two pictures that are not in the Postcard Book. Both show the Clock Tower, which makes it a lot easier to identify the location of the photographer…:-)

Although it took us time to find the location from where the image below was taken. The images comes from the book Malaysia:A Pictorial History 1400 – 2004   and has as caption View of the church (sic!) and street scene, Taiping, c. 1890 
The picture must have been taken from the 5th Cross Street (Jalan Lim Tee Hooi). Left and right you still can see two gabled houses, probably the same as in the old picture!!The last picture is more recent, dating from the 70s of the last century. For sale on Ebay  (US $ 17.99)The present situation. The left side of Kota Road is hardly recognisable, the right side has not changed so much.

A friendly request for the readers of this post. If you have old  pictures/postcards of Taiping and are willing to share, please contact me.