Ipoh…The City that Tin Built!
On our way to down from the Cameron Highlands it was drizzling for most of the way, we saw many cars in ditches due to speed…like most people Malays can’t drive in the rain either! Luckily it looked like no one was hurt.
The entire way from the top of the Highlands was down hill, nearly 70ks of it! , with quite a few twisties!….
We got into Ipoh (pronounced E Poh) at our usual time of 1pm.
The hotel we were staying in was called Hotel Station 18, http://www.hotelstation18.com.myI wasn’t really sure what we were letting ourselves in for as the 2 nights cost us $34!!! We had read all the reviews on Trip Advisor and all the reviews had said how fantastic it was, so when we arrived an enthusiastic doorman who promptly moved all the scooters so we could get the strom under cover greeted us.
After checking in I was eager to check out the room, and was pleasantly surprised the room was spacious and clean…what a bargain.
We needed to go to the DHL office so Ian the owner of the Hotel, took us in his Mini Cooper (I want one now), Ian asked us if we would like to have dinner with him and a young Austrian couple who where arriving later in the day, WOW…ok, Ian had it all planned for us, later we went to dinner in a large Chinese area of Ipoh, Ian even ordered for us! Chicken Chop, It probably wasn’t what we would have ordered but we had a go!
The next morning we all (Ian, Lisa, Gerard and our selves) met at 9.30am to ‘do’ breakfast, we all piled into Ian’s Proton and were taken to a small Malay restaurant that apparently has never had any westerners eat there before, Ian again ordered for us we ended up with Roti tissure (plain) and Roti canai (egg) and a dipping sauce which was quite spicy but it was delicious…We also tried some rice wrapped in banana leaf,but it was just a bit to spicy for breakfast….the staff in the restaurant were really friendly and wanted photos of us all!
Next on Ian’s list was a deserted tin mine town named Papan,
A little piece of trivia: The 1999 movie Anna and The King (Jodie Foster) was filmed mainly in Ipoh, King Mongkut’s Grand Palace was recreated at a secret location, but part of the palace was filmed in a Mandolin mansion in Papan,
Even though the town was run down and many buildings have been left to decay there were still a few people living there, the whole town has a magnificent charm about it, it would have been a beautiful little town years ago, its strange how we find crumbling old buildings beautiful, this town would be a photographers delight with a perfect shot everywhere you looked and this is not mentioned in any of the guide books, so no bus loads of tourists only us!….
Next on the list was old tin dredger, which hadn’t been unused for many years and has been recently opened to the public; it was interesting if you like that sort of thing.
There was no guide so we could clamber all over it, In its hey day working inside it would have been deafening and dirty work, going 24/7.
Clive managed to climb into the huge tumbler in the heart of the ship where the tin was separated from the dredging’s and of course he couldn’t help himself and had to climb to top of steel gantry’s, which he said gave a great view of the city.
Next on the list Ian whipped us off to visit some caves, not before stopping in a little village where they are the only place still making by hand these rice sweets, they were so yummy…
Then next off to a local soy factory where these two old guys showed us how they make soya sauce and we got to taste a bit straight from the big jars, they have been doing it this way for generations…
We arrived at Guatempurung, which is the largest natural limestone structure in Peninsular Malaysia. The cave measures 1.9 km in length and 120 metres in height. It is a cavern inside Gunung Tempurung (Tempurung Mountain) standing 497 metres. The cave which starts at the bottom of this enormous cliff, it was a small entrance but when we got inside, my god… it was enormous, we had not seen anything like it, you could of got a shopping complex inside and I mean five stories high!……… and apparently you could walk into it for six hours… We did about an hour…that was more than enough as most of it is stairs!!!
When we got out Ian whipped us off to cave number two which is Nam Thean Tong translates as Cave of the Southern Sky, ‘southern sky’ referring to heaven. One of Ipoh’s oldest cave temples having been established in 1867 by a Chinese priest called Kuong San Teik. Outside the temple were small monkeys, once inside you walked through the cave for a bit and then came out to a area where it was open to the sky, outside was a massive Pagoda and a large concrete enclosed area where loads of tortoises live, some really old by the looks of it, I did feel sorry for them as there was no dirt for them to dig in and the water they lived in was pretty yucky looking.
Then once again Ian whipped us off to cave number three which was called Kek Look Tong, is a slightly smaller cave, Surrounded by stunning stalactites and stalagmite formations, the cave provides a peaceful prayer site for Buddhist devotees, it was really a huge hole in a cliff, which when walked through brought you out into these magnificent gardens, which also had this giant gold statue of Buddha…
Well we were getting dizzy now with so many things shown to us and we still hadn’t seen Kellies Castile the main reason why we had stopped off in Ipoh…
We had saved the castle to last; as it was so hot we did the caves first for some respite from the heat.
On arriving at the castle the first thing we did was buy a ice-cream before we went exploring…. One if the first things we noticed was that the castle resembled a much smaller Osborne House, Isle Of Wight…the home of Queen Victoria!
Here’s a little history on the Castle, it’s worth goggling for the rest this uncompleted huge mansion is located in the town of Batu Gajah about 25 minutes drive away from Ipoh.
This mansion has a remarkable architecture with rooms designed for Kellie’s son and daughter.
Kellie had designed a living hall, a place of worship, a flat rooftop for his tennis court and to also cater for parties, an elevator half completed. It was also discovered that there are secrets tunnels, one of which leads to the Hindu temple through the Kinta River. However, this tunnel has now been sealed for safety reasons.
Well…. were all totally exhausted after a fun packed tour, so after having a shower back at he hotel we agreed to meet up again for dinner, once again are host Ian took us to a local place where you could order anything, what a day…which we will never forget!!!! Thanks once again Ian.
Next day we got on the Iron horse and rode to the Lost World of Tambun, RM 45 each…wow, The ‘City’ provides a unique atmosphere that captures the actual effect of a lost city itself, with hanging vines and tropical plants, the theme park has been created with the image of a lost city, also there are lots of wild animal noises when bobbing around the river ride, we really were big kids that day, The park also has a large petting area, a couple of Siberian tigers, and if you like REALLY loud music then head in the beach area, we couldn’t believe how load the music was…or are we just getting old?
The park is a water theme park with many ‘extras’! The hot springs, some were soooo relaxing a couple of the springs were way too hot-45c- we walked in and walked straight back out, ouch, ouch, ouch!!….
We got back to the hotel fairly tired, so a shower and something to eat was in order as the next day we were heading off to George Town, Penang.