KLIAAugust 13, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C
Homeward Bound - and a rainforest in an airport
The day started with a funicular ride up a rather cloudy Bukit Bendera - Penang Hill to try and see the views across Georgetown. What awaited us at over 700m was a mixture of temples; gardens and colonial houses converted into quite tacky attractions like a toy musuem and cafes to attract the Asian clientele. The clouds cleared a little as we were about to descend do we could see some of the Vista. After we descended we boarded to bus to take us on a walking tour of the UNESCO listed centre of Georgetown. The first stop was Chew Jetty - a community of stilt houses built over the water built by Chinese immigrants - walking over the boardwalk it is now full of souvenir shops.Read more
On arrival at the Lakeside resort of Bukit Merah, located a short drive from the town of Taiping, the group took a boat across to the Island. We were greeted by a guide who introduced the project but we're distracted by three young orang utans playing nearby. To view the animals we walked through a semi-circular steel frame tunnel cage like structure with the Orang utans roaming in the outside. A populated of 24. Most have been born there, some rescued from Borneo - none have been rehabilitated yet. A centre for research and also for conservation and education.Read more
The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is the Peninsula's largest surviving mangrove. The area has a thriving fishing industry notably cockles - our group took a speedboat along the estuary to view the area at close hand - teeming with wildlife we saw dolphins, Egrets and Sea Eagles anf had a close encounter with friendly Wild Boar at the small community of Kuala Sangga - built on stilts over the area of mangrove we visited the small primary school with a roll of 19 and their 10 teachers. We viewed their classes had a talk by the headteacher and teacher of English before the students sang for us. This area was affected by the 2004 Tsunami and there is much more interest now to protect and educate about their importance.
From the boat trip we visited a "Sustainable" Charcoal factory - in the past much of the mangroves were cleared for development or charcoal production now an area is only cleared when trees are 30 years and that area is left to regrow and clearing takes place somewhere else - the very enthusiastic owner the 3rd generation of charcoal producers explained the process of producing charcoal and it's benefits. We then took a boardwalk through the reserve to see the ecosystem much clearer.
Lunch was at a local fish restaurant.Read more
After breakfast we departed for a visit to an Orang Asli Semiar sub-group settlement via Tesco's to buy provisions like rice to give to the villages - here we were met by Harry a man who works for an NGO who work to improve the life of these people. The Tesco store is the 2nd largest of 57 stores in Malaysia of 7000 square feet with over 200000 lines.
The village was located around 40 mins from Ipoh in Jantung Baru, in the rainforest area. Home to around 475 people, we were welcomed by the village chief who talked to us about the history of the Orang Asli people and the difficulties that they face today where they feel that they have no voice in the country when it comes to government decisions - although they have homes built for them they were not consulted on the planning esp regards to the shophouse which is not located where they wanted it, the school is too far away for many children who have no form of transport etc. We had a look around their village.
Then we drove to a nearby mall for lunch - for most it was KFC.
From there we drove to look in a geological museum with quite informative exhibits and details of mining in the region and the rest of Malaysia.
Our next stop was to a Buddhist temple Kek Look Tong built inside a limestone cave. Very airy with lots of statues and Buddha's.
Our final visit was to see the main buildings located in the old town which are a legacy of British Rule. The railway station, City Hall, Club and Padang, St.Michael's schook and Birch Memorial Clock tower.
We walked back to the hotel and stumbled across the Mural Art Trail where many walls had been painted with murals.
Dinner was at local cafe called Cakchibow.Read more
Our route took us along a road that has been constructed through the forest which has 600 bends. A few photo stops to see Orang Asli settlements, HEP station. Our first major stop at a small waterfall called Lata Iskander. Where there are stalls selling fruit and also wood and rattan wares lining the road next to the small cascade. Then driving through Tapah the lowest hill station where the Gukha troops camps are located we stopped off briefly at a bamboo basket weaving factory where they weave baskets for collecting vegetables in the Cameron Highlands - here the working conditions are poor and wages low.
Next stop Lata Kinjang waterfall 800m located in a former tin mining area - where the left over pools are now used for reading ducks and fish. Predominately chinese. Near Tapah forest reserve.
A short drive to lunch stop at Capati Corner...for you guessed it "Chapati" with Mutton curry plus a very sweet milky tea for 13 MYR (£2.50). Passing through Kinta Valley the former tin mining region. The next stop before Ipoh were the huge limestone caves of Gua Tempering - hot and humid and quite dry inside we were guided through these with a guide with limited English who pointed out forms made from the limestone like people and animals. The final stop was a view of Kellie's Castle - an unfinished mansion from the 1920's influences by Indian style he built an adjacent Hindu temple for his Tamil workers where they incorporated Kellie Smith as one of the deities in the facade.Read more