Malaysia is not only KL, Penang, Langkawi and Malacca! There are more destinations with many attractions to visit. (Harusnya Simbok diangkat jadi Duta Pariwisata Malaysia sama Syed Saddiq – Menterinya aja milih wekekeke)
I am writing this piece while drinking charcoal roasted white coffee from Antong coffee mill in Taiping, the oldest coffee mill in Malaysia.
If you want to to look closer to Malaysia’s history, particularly during colonialism era, you should go to Taiping. The town used to serve as Perak state capital lies between Ipoh and Penang. It has the first museum in Malaysia, as well as the first operational rail way station, and most importantly the first coffee factory in the country.
Many people overlook this town on the way to more developed Penang. We did not even consider it as tourism destination until recently, when we ran out weekend getaway destination. But yet, we found Taiping has many attraction to offer, so a weekend is actually not enough to cover all.
Taiping is around 270 km from Kuala Lumpur, about 48 km from Ipoh and 78 km from Penang. It has access to North-South Expressway, the main artery in Malaysian Peninsula. KTM, the lokal railway, serves between KL and Padang Besar in the border of Thailand.
We set off in drizzly Saturday morning. The rain hit hard between Selangor and Perak, so we could not drive fast. Somehow it took us around 3.5 hours to reach Taiping. Puput and I took turn the wheel. Oliq and Ola were pretty excited because the first stop wae Taiping Zoo and Night Safari. It was very easy to navigate since Taiping is a small town, signages to Zoo are available everywhere since the toll exit.
The tickets cost RM 16 for adult, and RM 8 for child. Thankfully there was a mini train that took us around the zoo for free! After driving for hours, I did not feel like walking 5km around the zoo. So, yes, taking the train is the most plausible option.
The zoo is not as big as Zoo Negara. And not as expensive, mind you! However, it has quite variety of animals. There are plenty of birds, snakes, two kinds of crocodiles, seven (or eight or nine) elephants, lions, rhinos, hippos, kangaroos, tortoises, fish including arapaimas, and all sort of deer. My favorit was the savannah where giraffes, zebras, and emu live together in an African-setting environment. But I have to say that the savannah in Zoo Negara is better.
Oliq was ecstatic when he saw his favorit animal, biawaks or monitor lizards, a few times around the zoo. We were not allowed to move until the biawaks were gone.
Since we had already taken the train, we did not walk much. Only to savannah and the elephants to take picture. After that we went out.
Our hotel, a small one, is Kimal Hotel. Basically is located in the center of the Taiping old town. I paid RM 168 for a suite with two queen size beds. The room was quite big, very clean, and tidy, but got no window – might be a problem if you are claustrophobic. But not a problem for us.
We had our lunches, cup noodles, then set of to Perak museum. The museum was established in 1883, dubbed as the oldest museum in Malaysia. The exterior is grand, the building is a beautiful white wash from colonial era (which actually is very common in Taiping, many government buildings and schools and hospitals are old British buildings). It was 5pm and the closing time is 6pm, so we were better in a hurry. The ticket was RM 6 for adult. The museum consists of two storeys. The first one exhibits animals in Malaysia, the bones of animals (that the children adored), and a special section on honey, bee, and honeycomb.
The second storey exhibits things about Orang Asli or indigenious people of Malaysia. In the yard, there are old plane, train, cars, carts, becas, and some old weaponry.
I captured Taiping Church with its beautiful spooky cemetary on the way. The old church and the cemetary nestle in the middle of pasture with shady trees. Taiping is the wettest town in Peninsular so the land is very fertile.
Although the sun almost set and both the kids fast asleep on the backseat, Puput was heading to Spritzer EcoPark, 5 km from the city center. Spritzer is the most well known mineral water brand in Malaysia.
The EcoPark is small but very nice. And, yay, free entry. My favourite spot was the cactus rock. The rock is hundreds of thousand years old, shaped like a cactus. There is also a cheesy love locks and heart shaped photo spot. There is 18-holes mini golf. We rented two sticks and played.
To end the night we bought food from a warung called Selera Dangdut *macak Via Vallen*
The next morning we drove to Antong Coffee Factory, a short drive from the hotel. It is small and traditional. We could have a sip of every coffee they produce. The place is small but nice. I will tell you about it in the next piece.
Before heading home, we went to Lake Gardens. It is very vast with lakes in the middle. Just like many parks in Malaysia, it has jogging tracks, picnic spots, fishing spots, few playgounds, bycicle rentals, etc. We spend one or two hours biking around the lake.
Is a weekend enough to explore Taiping? Definitely no. We will comeback for more, as we also want to visit Lenggong Valley, the archeological sites where the infamous Perak Mas was found.