Teluk Intan, March 2024

After visiting Melaka (in August) and Seremban (in September), Aric and I made another overnight trip, this time to Teluk Intan. We visited the town in 2014, see Journal 5-10-2014 and had seen all points of interest. This time it was a convenient place to stay overnight and visit a few other attractions in the neighbourhood. Our program had three targets:

  • The Elephant Memorial
  • The Pasir Salak historical complex
  • The grave of J.W.W. Birch

We started our trip on a Friday afternoon and reached Teluk Intan in about two hours. Before checking in at the Rick Resort, we first visited the Elephant Memorial. In 1894 there was an accident where an elephant attacked a train to protect its herd. The train derailed, the elephant died.

A memorial has been erected at the location where it happened. A signboard beside the road tells you where the trail starts and gives a description of the accident. It’s not much of a trail, but a very a short one. Not many people visit this place.

Here is the memorial.

The railway between Tapah Road and Teluk Intan opened in 1893 and closed in 1989. The tracks have been dismantled, but the railway bridge across the Bidor river is still there, now used for bike traffic. The map shows Teluk Intan in the 1940s when the railway was still operational. In the other picture the remains from a pedestrian walkway next to the railway are still visible.

Not far from the bridge we found this attractive mural. I am not happy with the proliferation of murals all over Malaysia, but this one is very appropriate and well-done.

We had booked a room in Rick resort. Our room was not large but had the luxury of a private jacuzzi.

After a short rest we went out again for dinner. There is not much special food in Teluk Intan, but we found a nice family-run Char Koay Teow stall, just along the road. Traditional preparation, using charcoal.

The main attraction of Teluk Intan is the leaning tower. It was brightly lit and many families were enjoying the evening. We spent quite some time there. Aric is trying to tilt the tower a bit more.

He had brought his drone.

The resort was also nicely illuminated. I enjoyed the jacuzzi with a beer.

The next morning we checked out and went to the town center for our breakfast. The Maharani hawker center is located on both sides of the street.

We had Ying Yong Glutinous Rice with Char Siew and Curry Chicken.. Interesting, but a bit heavy for breakfast. The stall owner was willing to pose with his food.

We had a look at the nearby Guong Dong temple, dedicated to Guan Yin (seated in the center). The deity is Caishen, the god of wealth, an important deity for Chinese 😉

Then it was time for the main challenge of this trip, finding the grave of Birch. I had found a webpage created in 2019, Jejak Sejarah: Menjejaki Kubur JWW Birch with a map. And Sabri Zain visited the graves about ten years ago, here is his report: Perak Expedition: Bandar Bahru. He gave me clear instructions how to reach the graves. Here is the map of the region with Sabri’s route in green and the 2019 one in red.

We decided to try Sabri’s route first (the green one). The plantation road was in reasonable condition, but very overgrown, scratching our car so much, that we turned back halfway. Then Aric got the brilliant idea, why don’t we walk to the graves. He had noted that a minor road comes quite close to the graves and that on Google Earth it looks like a vague trail is going in the right direction..

We found the trail location and parked the car there. It was actually a cattle trail, we had to walk carefully to avoid the cow dung, but it was not more than a 700 m hike before we reached the graves.

I found it quite impressive, so in the middle of nowhere.

The grave of Birch is in the center. Left of his grave is the grave of Innes, who died a few days later during a failed attack on Pasir Salak. According to Sabri Zain the other three graves are of a British private, a Sepoy and a Malay scout. I may write a separate post about the killing of Birch and the hectic weeks that followed.

Aric used his drone to take aerial pictures of the cemetery and the nearby majestic Perak river.

We walked back to the car and continued our trip to the Historical Center of Pasir Salak. When we arrived we were the only visitors, later a Malay group arrived. I had visited the center long ago and was not impressed. The architecture of the complex is nice, maybe a bit over the top. There are two monuments about what actually happened here. And there is a Time Tunnel as main attraction.

But the concept of Bumi Pahlawan Melayu (Land of the Malay warriors) which you see displayed everywhere in the complex is not appropriate, in my opinion. It suggest a continuous struggle for independence, from the Melaka sultanate until the formation of UMNO. It would have been better to concentrate on British colonialism.

The time tunnel is actually quite well done. I remember a “primitive” version when i visited the first time, dioramas depicting the various phases of “Ketuanan Melayu“. Now it is more high-tech and more balanced. Officially not allowed to take photos, but I could not resist the temptation. The Pangkor Treaty (1874) and the hanging of Birch’s killers in Matang (1876).

Here are the two monuments near the actual location where Birch was speared (while taking a bath in the river!). A British one (for Birch) and a Malaysian one (for his killers). The cannon is a so-called Rentaka, a bronze cannon, used by the Malays during the fighting.

Pasir Salak was the home base of Maharaja Lela, he had his stronghold there. In the picture you see a replica, but already ruined.

After this visit we drove back to Teluk Intan for lunch. The town may not be a haven for foodies, but there is one famous speciality, Liew Kee’s Chee Cheong Fun. Prepared with a variety of herbs, without a sauce. Aric bought 27 packs (at RM 8 per pack) to distribute them among family and friends ;-).

The shop has only limited seating capacity, so we went to the Glutton (!) Square Food court, where we ordered ABC and had a pack of CCF. Both delicious.

Before driving back to KL, we had a look at three more or less ruined buildings, indicated on this Google Earth map of Teluk Intan. The former palace of the Raja Muda, the Old Police Station and the Woo Choy Mansion. Also marked the Elephant Memorial, the Railway bridge and our resort.

In 2014 I had also taken pictures of these three buildings and I was curious how much they had deteriorated since then. As you can see, not much difference, the Palace (1922) and Police Station (1882) more overgrown with trees and bushes. The mansion was built in 1918 by “towkay” Woo Choy. It is private property, not inhabited but apparently well maintained.

All three properties were thoroughly fenced, no trespassing possible, a big difference with Taiping.

The entrance of the mansion is from Jalan Speedy. You wonder why Captain Speedy is honoured in Teluk Intan? You can find the answer in my blog post In Defense of Captain Speedy 😉

It was a very successful trip.

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