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Batu Gajah

A ROAD TRIP BACK IN TIME

A Road Trip Back in Time

Malaysia is rich with history, not only from the Dutch or British era but also from the World War II events that took place on this land. My friend and I decided that we would make a trip to revive some forgotten times. Thus, we set off on a historical road-trip that we named “2 historical states in 2 days”!

For those attempting to follow in our footsteps, rest assure that driving on Malaysian roads and highways is totally safe and enjoyable with great infrastructure and amenities along the way. Your long-distance drive can be interspersed with stops along the clean RnRs (Rest and Relax lay-bys) where there are food stalls, restrooms, convenience stores, petrol stations and Muslim prayer rooms.

The Mammoth on the Lake
From Kuala Lumpur, our first historic stop was to visit a “machine” from the British colonial era. Driving up north on the North-South PLUS Highway, we headed to Tanjung Tualang in Batu Gajah, a forgotten town that used to be famous for tin-mining activities in its heyday.

Briefly, Malaysia used to be the world’s largest tin producer, but when tin prices fell in 1980s, tin mining as an industry slowly ceased to exist in the country.

The “machine” we were going to check out is one of the last remaining pieces of Perak’s tin mining history. The Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge No. 5 – or TT5 as it was called – stood heftily on the lake. This mammoth of a machine is Kinta Valley’s latest attraction. It was newly refurbished as a public museum to provide a glimpse into Malaysia’s tin-mining era in the old days.

Built in 1938, this surviving (but no longer in operation) bucketline tin dredge is simply a magnificent piece of engineering invention. It was originally steam-operated, but later turned fully electric in 1963.

We spent the rest of the tour with our well-informed guide, listening to how the tin dredge was operated and how the mines had changed not only the lives of people in Perak in those days, but also how the entire industry transformed and developed Malaysia.

One can explore almost all the areas of the tin dredge, touch and feel the machinery and also participate in some activities. We actually learned how to do manual tin mining – just to feel the experience of the original-time consuming method. After a “hard day’s work,” we took a sip at the lovely The Can Tin Diner, a small outlet which offers beverages and snacks.

The Original Tin Miners’ Club
We then left Batu Gajah on a 30 minute drive headed straight for Ipoh, the capital city of Perak which had its fair share of history to tell as well.

To delve deeper into Malaysia’s tin mining history, we visited Han Chin Pet Soo museum. For those who are interested to learn more about Malaysia’s tin mining history, there is no better place to do so than at this museum housed in what was once known as a private club for tin mining towkays since the 1890s. We explored three floors’ worth of old Malaya history through a guided tour and viewing unique exhibits such as a tin mine diorama, archived films, opium smoking paraphernalia, rare photographs and more.

That night, as we lulled ourselves to sleep at the Kinta Riverfront hotel in the city area, our dreams were of tin prospectors in old Malaya finding riches in the Kinta River.

Bridge to the Battlefields
The next day, we continued our journey to Penang and used the new Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah bridge to the island. This newly-built second link to the island was nearer to our ultimate destination, the Penang War Museum in Batu Maung.

It connects Bandar Cassia (Batu Kawan) in Seberang Perai on mainland Peninsular Malaysia with Batu Maung on Penang Island, and is the ideal bridge to take if you want to explore the southern parts of Penang Island.

It is the second bridge to link the island to the mainland after the first Penang Bridge. The total length of the bridge is 24 km (15 mi) with length over water at 16.9 km (10.5 mi), making it the longest bridge in Malaysia and the longest in Southeast Asia.

To abide by the Road Safety Audit, the bridge has numerous “S” shaped curves along its length. It took us about 20 minutes to cross the bridge.

Once in Batu Maung and as our car inched up the hill on which the museum stood, there was no mistaking that we were in “army territory” from the signages and war relics around.

The war bunker and fort at Batu Maung was erected by the British in the 1930s, but later came into the possession of the Japanese in 1941 when they turned it into a prisoners’ camp.

Exploring the various areas of the fort revealed many interesting relics such as pillboxes, underground shelters and bunkers dug deep into the ground. We entered a bunker that was once used as an ammunition storage area.  A bit further down, we saw a tunnel used to safely detonate bombs, big machine guns or launchers. We also saw the area where executions were carried out. A look into the barracks, now camouflaged by jungle, was a glimpse into the tormented lives and routines endured by the soldiers.

This definitely wasn’t a place for the faint-hearted, but for those who have a genuine love for history, they will find many fascinating stories and artefacts here to add depth to their knowledge of Malaysian history.

The Home of Heritage

We left the museum drenched in sweat, and the only thing to perk us up again was a comfortable warm bath in the lovely and eccentric Penaga Boutique Hotel. This cosy Baba-Nyonya inspired hotel is a cluster of 15 pre-war heritage shop houses converted into a an elegant five-star boutique accommodation full of character, right in the middle of George Town’s UNESCO heritage zone. Stepping into this Peranakan styled hotel transported us back to the origins of the Chinese and Malay cultures that fused all those years ago in Penang.

Staying the night here was a fitting way to end our history-tracing road trip as we immersed ourselves in the rich and colourful past of George Town City, whose amalgam of culture, heritage and traditions earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.

And the best thing was the location – it was just a stone’s throw away from a legendary culinary establishment for the masses – Nasi Kandar Line Clear! Although the restaurant has its franchises, nothing beats the original flavours where it first became famous.

We left Penang the very next morning pleased that we had managed to go back several decades in time to relive Malaysia’s glorious past and enjoy the fruits of its present and future.

 

Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge No. 5 or TT5 Museum 

Address9th KM, Jalan Tanjung Tualang, 31000 Batu Gajah, Perak
Time:      9.00 am to 6.00 pm (Monday closed)
Phone:   +6014-904 3255
Fee:         From RM5 to RM20 and free for kids under 6 (Limited to 20 pax per session)

Han Chin Pet Soo Museum

Address: No. 3, Jalan Bijeh Timah (Treacher Street), 30100 Ipoh, Perak
Time: 9:30 am to 4:45 pm (Monday closed) Entry is by appointment only
Bookings: http://www.ipohworld.org/reservation/
Phone: +605 241 4541
Fee: No entrance fee, though donations of RM10 per adult and RM5 per child is welcomed

Penang War Museum

Address:  Batu Maung street, 11960 Batu Maung, Penang
Time: 9.00 am to 6.00 pm (Daily)
Plus 8.00 pm – 10.00 pm (Saturday Sunday)
Phone: +604-626 5142
Fee: From RM20 to RM35
*The museum is best reached by private transport.

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Spooky travels this Halloween month

This October, why not experience the “darker” side of Malaysia in celebration of the Halloween month? Here’s a compilation of possible things to do and places to visit to get into the mood of the season. While some are fun and entertaining for the whole family, others are strictly for adults who can brave the thrills!

Fun runs: Those who want to get their feet moving can join several fun runs being organised this entire month all over the country. Most have a Halloween theme, so come dressed in your spookiest outfits and put on some fangs for a jolly good time.

  • Boo Night Run at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) on 28 Oct. Enjoy a cool 5 km night run in this huge park with some ghostly (but friendly) characters to motivate you along the way. Website: http://bigshowasia.com/
  • Halloween Fun Run in Kota Kinabalu on 28 Oct. Run along the coastal highway of Likas Bay and don’t forget to put on some ghostly make-up to scare your competitors away! Website: https://www.facebook.com/halloweenrunkk/
  • Zombie Urban Run at Metropolitan Square, Kepong, on 28 Oct. This morning run over a distance of 4 km will take participants around the picturesque park and lake. Website: https://www.facebook.com/fanatic4event2u/

 

Theme parks: Malaysia’s theme parks are putting on some serious fangs to frighten the daylights out of visitors.

  • Over at Sunway Lagoon, the “Nights of Frights,” now in its 5th year of celebration, is only for the brave (seriously, only those 12 and above are allowed in). Get ready to feel the fear as you explore their eight haunted houses, five scare zones, 11 thrill rides and four stage shows. Website: sunwaylagoon.com/nof5.
  • For kid-friendly Halloween celebrations, head on over to Legoland where they’re putting together some new shows this October. Catch the Brick-Most-FearShow, where Mr. Lord Vampire, The Green Witch and Frankenstein will share how they brought Frankenstein back to life! Expect lots of friendly Halloween characters doing a dance routine throughout the park, too, and join in the Brick-Ka-Boo parade. Website: legoland.com.my.
  • Another family-friendly Halloween treat is in store over at Perak’s Lost World of Tambun. Dare you enter the Spooky Halloween House of Dolls with its nightly show of “Dolls Alive” where cute and cuddly toys come “alive”? If not, just stick to the usual trick or treating around the park and collect various candies and goodies. Website: https://sunwaylostworldoftambun.com

Night tours: After you’re done exploring Malaysia by day, why not experience Malaysia by night? Night tours of some of Malaysia’s popular tourist attractions will shed new light on your appreciation of what they offer.

  • The Penang War Museum has been listed as one of Asia’s top 10 haunted sites by the National Geographic Channel. If it gives you the creeps in the day time, imagine the goosebumps you’ll get in this two-hour guided tour. Explore this old British defence fortress built in the 1930s, which later served as a prisoner of war camp after the Japanese invasion in 1941, and learn the historical facts along the way. Website: facebook.com/PenangWarMuseum/
  • For many years Kellie’s Castle, located in Batu Gajah, Perak, was left in ruins before it was turned into a tourist attraction. Today, after some sprucing up, visitors can learn all about the gift that Scottish planter William Kellie Smith gave his wife in the early 1900s. Numerous tragedies and bad luck struck the family and delayed the construction of the mansion, but all these tales will be revealed as visitors explore the corridors, halls and dungeons of Kellie’s Castle after sunset. Website: https://www.facebook.com/kelliescastleofficial/

On a lighter note, get to know your ghosts and ghouls at the Penang Ghost Museum in a fun and interactive way. Horror enthusiasts will love comparing Western and Asian ghosts here such as the Dracula, mummy, Orang Minyak (literally means oily man in Malay), pontianak (female vampire), Tuyul (known as Toyol), Pocong (a living corpse in a burial shroud), Chinese vampires (jiangshi), and Onryo (a Japanese spirit). Website: https://www.facebook.com/ghostmuseumpenang57/

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/