Thursday, July 24, 2008

I like this place.

There is a town in Malaysia called Taiping

It was the centre of activities for tin-mining for a long time, initially when tin was earlier discovered and mined in Malaya (then, Malaysia now). I am told that ‘taiping’ is a Chinese word for ‘forever peace’ (I stand corrected here) because when the Chinese first arrived in that area and started to mine tin, they were opposed strongly by the local Malays. I don’t really know the history of Taiping, but every time Taiping is mentioned, the name Ngah Ibrahim a local Malay Leader, keeps cropping up. It was because of all the fighting, feuds and killings that brought the British into Taiping to established a ‘peace’ town. In the olden days it was called Matang (again I stand corrected).

However I shall not go into the history of Taiping, as my knowledge in this area is almost nil. I just want o say that Taiping is one of the most pleasant town in Malaysia today. As you drive into Taiping, into the older part of the town, the streets seems to criss-crossed, the shop houses (mostly two storey brick buildings with 5 footways, built before the WW II) in square formation, with some old mosques and the Taiping Hospital in the middle. At the end of the town is the Administrative area. Go further and you are in open space called the Taiping Lake Garden, where in the old days it used to be the tin mining areas. Now it’s a very green area, with old trees, mostly raintrees and matured tall tembusu trees. Just on the fringe of the Taiping Lake Garden you will find the Prison (which used to be the main prison in Malaya), the Taiping Museum, and all the schools. Go further you will end up at the foot of the hills which used to be known as Maxwell Hill, now called Bukut Larut. Just before the foot of the hills you will find the very well maintained and kept British War Cemetary, and a few natural cool water pools. I remembergoing to those pools in my younger days. If you dare to go by the Land Rover up the hill, through some of the most curvy, narrow and winding roads in the country, you will find yourself in cool air of the hills, where even daffodils will grow. And from the hill you will see the whole of the Taiping Town. In my young days I had hiked up the hill from the bottom, not by the road but by climbing the steep slopes.

Taiping has got a military garrison, and in addition to the prison it also has got an intern centre where people are keep without trail in a camp called the Kemunting Camp, where political dissidents are kept under the Internal Security Act. Thus Taiping peaceful as its is, it has an evil secret which is quite unpleasant.

Whatever evil Taiping has, it has some of the most pleasant aspects, the people are friendly, air fresh and cool (according to weather records, Taiping had the highest rainfall in the whole country) and the food reasonable good. Just the other night I went to their night food stalls and I had this taufoo and sotong kangkong.

By looking at the photo you will know what they are. And in the end my wife and I dug into the concoction,

and we had a very pleasant dinner.

Once a year this region has its fruit season. And you can imagine what variety of fruits they have.
Durian, with skin,

and when you open it and keep in a plastic container. See the beautiful flesh on the seeds,


Cependek, a sort of smallish jack fruit,


And a few others like petai , langsat ,

and even bananas.

Durian and petai are fruits smelling to high heaven and the other fruits are all sweet to the taste that when you care eat them with your hands and fingers you will have sticky fingers (you may even lick your fingers to get the better taste of those fruits). Most locval over here eat fruits with their hands, and you can imagine the results.

And now after going there a few times a year on duty, I am just beginning to like the place. Remember that I went to a residential school about 40 km south of this town. So I am no stranger to Taiping really.

Taiping can be reached on the net through ‘taiping talk’


Byrne Smith said...

I enjoyed reading about your cuisine and see the photos.

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Maimun said...

Abang Lias, sedapnya tengok durian tu. Oh I really love to have those fleshy fruits.

Kamil and I, like Taiping too. The food and clothings are cheap over there.

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