“Do you have a plan for your next Taiping visit”, a friend asked me. “Not really”, I replied, “I just like to visit my second hometown, meet friends, enjoy the food, see what is new (and what is still ruined)”.
I booked three nights in my favourite Furama Hotel and went by train to Taiping. Aric and his family traveled to Thailand, using the same train, an opportunity to practice my selfie (wefie) skills.
At the Taiping station my THS (Taiping Heritage Society) friend Tung Lay Chun was waiting for me. She had arranged a (preview) visit to the new Telegraph Museum, but first she showed me the work going on at the future Botanical Garden of Taiping. A botanical garden in Taiping? It was the first time I heard about it
In this Google Earth map I have sketched, with a red contour, the location of the proposed Botanical Garden. The green markers indicate existing buildings and points of interest. As you see, it is a huge project, compare it with the size of the Lake Gardens
The banner suggests that the Taiping Town Council (MPT) is responsible for the project and I was told that funding is by the Federal Government. RM 10 million for the first phase!
Here is a plan of the garden. The supervisor, a nice Malay lady, explained a bit about the garden
According to a signboard, the first phase should be completed in November 2018, but when I look at the present situation, I wonder whether that is feasible. Here are some pictures.
A large parking lot, they must expect many visitors
To be honest, I have my reservations about the project. Penang has its famous Botanical Gardens (1884), Taiping its equally famous Zoo (1961), the oldest in Malaysia. Why create another botanical garden in Taiping? Will Penang follow with another Zoo? A friend said that it may be better to have a Botanical Garden there than buildings and condos and of course I agree, but the money could also be used to upgrade/beautify/renovate Maxwell Hill and its heritage bungalows.
After this visit it was time for lunch. Nasi Arab, delicious!
The Telegraph Museum is not yet open to the public, but the friendly supervisor Athira didn’t mind showing us around. Most of the exhibits are already there, but they are still working on the explanatory notes.
It is apt that Taiping has been chosen as the location for a telegraph museum, as the first telegraph line was opened in 1874 between the Deputy Resident in Taiping and the Residency in Kuala Kangsar. The building, housing the museum, was built in 1884 by the department of Posts and Telegraph and has been beautifully renovated. In the beginning it was also the post office.
Here I am standing in front of the museum, in the left picture with a mail coach and in the right one with Athira (in black) and three interns, who are helping her.
We had a look of the interior, with some machinery, digital displays, you could practice Morse code etc. It will become an interesting museum when everything is finished.
That evening I had dinner with Lay Chun’s husband in a food court near the Beverly hotel, chilli pan mee. Good food, nice company! The friendly owner of the stall was happy to be in the picture with me…:-)
The next morning, on my way to breakfast, I passed the row of dobi (laundry) shops, which use the field in front to hang and dry the laundry. Often very colorful and photogenic.
I had asked Suet Fun and Peter, the tenants of the Nest bungalow, to join me for breakfast at the Chee Cheong Fun stall in the Taiping hawker center.
After my visit in September I had whatsapped on and off with Tong, the owner of the stall. The CCF was delicious and it turned out that Peter and Suet had met Tong before. Taiping is an even smaller world than Malaysia…:-)
I had no specific plan for the rest of the day, so when Wan Amril called me and told me that he was going to his cafeteria at the 6th Mile on Maxwell Hill, I asked him if I could join him. The 6th mile is the end point of the jeep service. Beside the cafetaria, there are a few bungalows. As it was school holidays and also weekend, there were quite a few visitors, good business for the cafeteria.
It was a nice day, the view was quite good, deep down you could see Taiping town and far away the coastline of the Straits. Pleasant atmosphere
While Amril was busy I walked around a bit and took pictures..Left a view of the 6th Mile “village” and right a walking path, recently constructed.
Here a few pictures of one of the bungalows in the 6th mile village. According to Amril the original name was the Doll. Now it is being renovated by his mother, the wife of the OBJ.
A few other bungalows at the 6th mile are probably beyond repair.
I had my lunch at the cafeteria
There was time enough to walk the ~1 km uphill to Speedy’s bungalow, where I celebrated my 60th birthday, 13 years ago. Guna was the caretaker then. Later there has been a failed attempt to create a biodiversity center here. Now it is closed, such a pity.
It was a nice and refreshing afternoon. Maxwell Hill deserves to become a more popular tourist attraction in Taiping.
That evening I had dinner with my friend May, as usual in Siang Malam. Later we walked to the Cross Street Bazaar and the District Office, we had a look at the Ho Hsien Ku temple and we had our picture taken in front of the I Love Taiping sign. Coffee in a nearby stall was the end of a rewarding day.
Where to have breakfast the next morning? I was in the mood for half-boiled eggs and toast and decided to go to the Lian Thong shop in Jalan Kota, but it was closed on a Sunday. So I ended up in Prima, also not bad.
Time for a walk in the Lake Gardens. On my way I passed two historical landmarks, the Government Offices (now District Office) and the Chartered Bank (now Public Library). See my blog Taiping, old and new .
it is always a pleasure to walk around in the Lake Gardens
During my last visit in September I had met a gentleman at the Ansari cendol stall, see my report Taiping September 2017 . Because of our shared interest in Taiping Heritage we had kept in touch and when he heard that I was visiting Taiping again, he suggested that I should visit his sister, Mrs Kim Long, who is living in Barrack Road and who I had met for a short while in September.
After my walk I called her and I was welcome. It was a fascinating meeting with a very vital elderly lady, a treasure trove of memories about Taiping and its past. Looking forward to meet her again
I could not resist the temptation to take a wefie with her.
After my visit I had lunch in OK and cendol in Ansari. I had tasty char siew rice in nearby restaurant OK, only later I read in a review that their speciality is soup noodles. Next time!
After my lunch I had a look at the building of the Ceylonese Association, nearby at Station Road. Built in 1901, it is now being restored! Left the front facade, right the back.
Also at Station Road, opposite the iconic buildings of the King Edwards VII school, are what I have called the Shame of Taiping, the former Rest House and the former PWD department (originally the Railway headquarters) . I wrote that report more than four years ago and not much has changed.
The Rest House has been cleaned up inside and fenced off, but it is still easy to enter. This time I even ventured up the first floor.
The PWD building, opposite the former First Galleria (another failed project) is actually quite attractive.
It has been cleaned inside and fenced off, but you can still enter it through the adjacent building (i anybody knows its original function, please let me know. To remove all the trees and rubbish, one entrance was widened and later repaired (left picture), but it is wide open and from there you can enter the PWD building. Before the cleaning operation, squatters were living inside this building, now there was only one, using the former ticket counter (?) as a makeshift house (right picture). He was sleeping, I didn’t disturb him. A sad situation.
The reason that squatters don’t live inside the building anymore, can be seen in the picture gallery below. Most of the flooring has disappeared! Has this been done by the owner (MPT?) or has there been illegal looting, as the wooden floor boards are valuable according to my friend Yeap.
Will be continued during my next visit. Taiping Bandar Warisan!
That evening I had invited friends for dinner at the New Bee Guan restaurant, Jalan Maharajalela, around the corner from my hotel. Food was not really special but the company was pleasant
The next morning I had dim sum for breakfast with Yeap, the president of the Taiping Heritage Society. We talked about heritage and that it would be nice if Ipoh, Taiping and the Kinta valley could get Unesco World Heritage status, with tin mining as central theme.
I had booked a train ticket for the afternoon, time enough to walk around a bit and take some more pictures
One of my friends wondered why I didn’t move to Taiping permanently…:-). There are many reasons why I will stay in PJ, but I hope to revisit Taiping many more times.