I am sure you do not like this place but this place is an important landmark in Taiping, the historical city.
This is a cross junction with traffic lights, I was from Kamunting town, if I cross the junction, I can reach the Taiping Lake Garden, the Taiping Zoo and the Maxwell Hill; if I turn right, I will reach the Taiping town. To left, to a few government offices and schools.
The Kamunting Jail is famous because some famous political personnels had been kept here before.
You will find that Taiping is an important army base. If you are driving from Kamunting to Taiping on the hill route, you will see many "Markas Tentera" or army barracks.
Taiping is a strategic land location and was used by the invading Japanese army when they march south towards Singapore from Kelantan.
There are many colonial style military adminstrative buildings all over Taiping.
Probably the most photographed view of Taiping Lake Gardens are the impressive rainforest trees with their branches overhanging the road, reaching across the lake and almost touching the surface of the water.
On those majestic branches are overgrown lichens, ferns and wild orchids.
Many advertisements have taken with their beautiful lakeside trees. Hopefully, these trees will be well taken care of to ensure that they will be around for the locals and visitors to enjoy.
One of my favorite memories of Taiping Lake as a kid is to run over the many bridges in Taiping Lake.
There is a zig-zag bridge with a pavillion in the middle. You can see over the side, the water lilies, the dragon flies and little fishes and water skippers.
Then there is also an bright red wooden bridge and another bridge where boats can rowed underneath.
One of the beautiful sights of Taiping Lake is when the large red water lilies are in bloom.
Water lily is considered "virtuous" in Buddhist belief as this graceful bright large flower bloom from a stalk that grew from the muddy water below. Many Buddhist use the lotus flower of the water lilies for prayers and can be seen as a base of seating Goddess of Mercy or Buddha.
Along the canals on the old trunk road, you can also see this beautiful water lilies. But do not pluck them and they are cultivated by the local villagers. The lotus seeds are eaten and lotus shoots is a Chinese soup delicacy. Of course, there are many water lilies species of different colors and sizes, red, pink, yellow, white, lilac, blue.
The British legacy left behind an excellent school system. King Edward VII, as well as St. George's and Convent School, are many of the old schools that are still running today.
English used to the medium of instruction but now replaced by Malay (Bahasa Malaysia) while English language as a subject is maintained. In recent years, the teaching of mathematics and science has been reverted back to the use of English as the medium of instruction throughout Malaysia.
"SK" mean "Sekolah Kebangsaan" or "National School". "SKM" means "Sekolah Kebangsaan Menengah" or "National Secondary School" while "SKR" means "Sekolah Kebangsaan Rendah" or "National Primary School".
Malaysia school system has 6 years of primary education for children starting at seven years old. Secondary School has Forms 1 to 5 with optional Forms 6 Lower and 6 Upper. Many students go to college or university directly or after matriculation classes in higher education locally or to Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, United States and other countries.
While the Chinese were major group of immigrants to Taiping for the tin mining, many Indians were recruited by the British to plant the rubber trees, construct railway lines, roads and buildings as well as serving as clerical administrative staff.
Many may think that that all from the Indian subcontinent are homogenous group - they are not. There are Tamils, Gujeratics, Punjabis, Bengalis and Ceylonese.
Ceylonese (Sri Lanka) are quite a close knit group and form associations throughout Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia). There are Ceylonese of Christians, Buddhist and Hindu as well as Muslim background.
In Taiping, you can see many large buildings of Chinese clan and association buildings for the "sinkeh" or new comers who came from Southern China to open the tin mines or run coffee shops or sundry shops to cater for the tin miners.
Seldom you will see the "Peranakan" or "Baba Nonya" or early "Straits Settlements" style buildings commonly found in the older Chinese settlements of Penang, Melaka and Singapore.
So quite a surprise to see this beautifully restored Peranakan style building in Taiping. Taiping is historic and full of surprises.
When you walkabout Taiping, you will come across many old streets that have been unchanged with trees still lining the middle of the road to provide shade from the tropical heat.
There are many popular local coffee shops in many of these old streets where you can have white coffee, hot or iced, and sample local noodles or spring rolls called "popiahs".
You may wander into an old watch repair shop or one of the new "2 Ringgit Only" stores.
In most towns, you will see old colonial Chinese businessmen mansions turned into open air restaurants with food stalls.
Here in Taiping, this Malay style mansion caught my eye. At night, it is turned into an open air restaurant selling Malay food stalls. During day, it is quiet.
In Taiping, if you look out, you will see the historical and colonial legacy left behind by the British since the first English Resident came to town after helping the local Malay chief establishing peace amongst the fighting clans of immigrant Chinese tin miners to ensure that tin ore will flow uninterrupted for export.
Besides the majestic Victorian town buildings and bungalows near the Lake Garden, there is a red fire hydrant where the town first fire station was set up. It was important as many of the buildings then were wooden and fire was common before electrification.
As Taiping receives a lot of rain, getting water should not have been a problem.
Taiping was once known as one of the wettest place in Malaysia - though the weather is less predictable these days.
Perhaps the frequent rains is because Taiping is located close to the Straits of Melaka and at the foothill of the Larut Hills.
It is a local joke not whether it will rain or not but what time will it rain. Apparently there was a gambling bets going amongst the local on the time when the first drop will land on the zinc roof near the market.
During the raining season, it tends to rain in the late afternoon and so often we have been caught in the rain while at the zoo or rowing the boat in the Taiping Lake.
Usually it does not rain the whole day. When it rains, it is a good time to visit the Museum, shop at the "Store" a major local supermarket or try the local food at one of the coffe shops.
When you really want to take it slow in life, think of Taiping.
A great place to retire. Many Malaysians from the larger cities like Kuala Lumpur ( 3 hr away ) and Penang ( 2 hr away ) have bought houses in Taiping and enjoying their lives in retirement
You want to try that ? WELCOME !.
Fondest memory: The Lake Gardens are unforgettable. The Zoo is also within its grounds.
There is Bukit Larut ( Maxwell Hill ) just nearby.
The Museum is close too. Numerous schools and churches, temples and mosques takes care of most of life's necessities. Don't forget the many eateries, economical shopping and plain simple lazing ..........
Hey what more could you ask for ?
Taiping is very similar to Penang Island where it has so many Tanglangs and speaks the same accent of Hokkien as well. They were both Malaysian-Chinese. Taiping is a town under Larut & Matang district of Perak state. This town has so many unstoppable rainy days until they already have a culture and tradition to gamble on rains. Yes they gamble on rains to fight for money at just any kopitiam (cafe). Anybody wants to witness this Taipingese culture can pay a visit anytime. I have been to this town many times to visit many friends and on one special occassion I was introduced to a new met friend of whom was a fanatic of Chinese Tea. This guy is so fanatical about Chinese Tea until he has a big collection at home of more than thousands of tea pots, cups and tea leaves. The moment we visit him, he shows us his latest tea pot which he bought by paying installment RM500 monthly which he claims to be priced around RM30000. He carefully bring out the tea pot to make tea for us together with his collection of antique cups from which ancient dynastic period that also to be priced above RM1000 each. Then he shows to us his latest collection of tea leaves also from which famous tea village of China and about the cost of a computer to put into the tea pot by adding the hot boiled water also claimed by him not normal water from tap but was carried back from the mountain top full of natural minerals. He said this way the water and this way the tea leaves and this way the cup and this way the tea pot will eventually generates good quality of tea for drink. Sure we tasted the tea and we said, thanks.
Taiping is not only about this tea fanatic but has so many good spots for sightseeing just that I haven't yet go there to snap photos, sorry for incovenience but will upload next time when I have.
Favorite thing: The roadside of Taiping Lake with its shady trees is a beautiful sight, and is often photographed and used in travel brochures.