Sunday, 11 November 2007

my hometown!!! tanjung rambutan!!! and yes! you heard it right!!

myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics

here's an article on the star today..which features my hometown!!!yup!it was that old old town that seems never develope...ANNNND..with the 'glow' from the hospital bahagia...


but there are parts which i dont seem to realise then..haha...but really,the hospital bahagia area is really beautiful!!!with coconut trees and all...

i remember i even walk to school when i was only standard two because it was so near...(THEN...ok?)

i kinda miss the slow pace of that 'colonial' town..hehe... *click for larger view*(maybe i should add some of the pictures i took on my own..)

L I F E S T Y L E Focus
Sunday November 11, 2007

From ‘hairy fruit cape’ to Tambun temples

Story and photos by ANDREW SIA

After discovering fascinating titbits, of the historical and edible kind, in Chemor last week, we continue our Kinta Valley journey and encounter Perak’s magnificent natural heritage.

THE small towns around Ipoh are like huge, three-dimensional history books of stone and wood, holding intriguing stories of how this nation came about.

On a “discovery trail” organised by the Perak Heritage Society (PHS), we move southwards from the charms of Chemor to look for clues to the past at Tanjung Rambutan.

What a name. Was there ever a cape (tanjung) on a river bend with lots of hairy rambutan fruit trees in the far off mists of time?

The unique Pencil Rock is now privatised into the Lost World of Tambun theme park.
There are no records of this, but by 1892 Tanjung Rambutan was bustling with tin mines, notes Khoo Salma Nasution and Abdur-Razzaq Lubis in Kinta Valley: Pioneering Malaysia’s Modern Development (Areca Books).

A British expedition going up the “Ulu Sungei Suntu” (Upper Suntu River) en route to the second highest mountain of Peninsular Malaysia, Gunung Korbu, found Malay and Chinese miners “working together amicably” at this Cape of Hairy Fruits.

In the old days, elephants were used to transport tin and provisions between the cape and Ipoh but they were soon supplanted by “more efficient” bullock carts. Then, in 1897, the trains arrived.

“A hundred years ago, Chinese squatter vegetable farmers around here used the railways to sell their produce all over Malaya. The landscape north of town is just like it was then,” says PHS president Law Siak Hong, during one of the many briefing sessions during the trip.

They built them to last in those days: the Tanjung Rambutan train station is still standing after 110 years.
Around here too, lies Rumah Changkat Kinding, a former estate manager’s bungalow built to oversee a small tea plantation. The tea is long gone but an old advertisement, reproduced in Kinta Valley, captures the times with the urge to “Buy British, Think Malayan, Drink Perak Tea”.

“This house was rented by the production designers of (the movie) Anna and the King when they were filming in Perak,” recalls Law.

Going into Tanjung Rambutan town, Law makes us look for old street names. The main Caulfield Road, named after a colonial-era British engineer, has since been renamed Jalan Majlis.

The Sunday pasar minggu (weekly market), complete with snake charmers, is in full swing.

The Kinta Valley book reproduces this ad from the early 20th century hawking tea produced at Changkat Kinding Estate just outside Tanjung Rambutan.
“It’s been like this for the past 100 years, people coming to buy, sell and watch,” says Law.

Another landmark here is the Tat Choi (Attain Abilities) Chinese school, which was established by the local Philomatic Union (reading club). On one sign, the year 1929 is commemorated as the 18th year of the da chung hua min guo, or the Republic of China, established in 1911 by Dr Sun Yat Sen.

“There were many supporters of Dr Sun Yat Sen among the people here. They helped set up this school,” recounts Law, adding that, “In Taiwan today, they still mark years starting from 1911.”

Of course, Tanjung Rambutan is infamous for its mental hospital, established in 1911 as the Federal Lunatic Asylum.

“The trip won’t go into the hospital, as this is not a circus sideshow,” says Law. “But people can go in by themselves.”

According to Landmarks of Perak (RNS Publications), a book commissioned by the state’s Raja Muda, Raja Nazrin Shah, most of the original buildings are still intact. This includes the pharmacy, a single-storey timber building generously shaded on all sides by bumbung Perak (Perak roof) supported by timber posts.

Some wards are built in a kebun (garden) arrangement with half-wooden chalets laid out among orchards, farms and fishponds.

“With slight adaptation, these buildings would not be out of place at a budget holiday resort,” notes Landmarks of Perak.

Perhaps this salubrious setting led to the place being renamed Hospital Bahagia (Happy Hospital) in the early 1970s.

The Tat Choi Chinese school bears a sign for the year 1929, the 18th year of the Republic of China established in 1911 by Dr Sun Yat Sen.
Natural heritage

Tambun used to have tin mines and coffee plantations. Nowadays, it's more renowned for its natural heritage of spectacular limestone formations and, of course, its pomelos.

Before the hot springs here were commercially developed, there were fields of hot water giving off steam that added to the mystique of the craggy outcrops.

“Every community has stories of sightings of spirits here. The fifth Datuk Panglima Kinta (Lord of Kinta) was said to have disappeared here,” explains Law.

This happened, it seems, after one of the lord’s companions “heard” merry-making in the hills.

Today, much of the area has been cordoned off by a private corporation to form a gated community and the Lost World of Tambun theme park. Included in the grounds is the amazing Pencil Rock.

“This unique rock formation was created by centuries of erosion. It’s very rare. The other famous one is on James Bond Island near Phuket (off Thailand),” explains Stephen Yaw, the theme park’s sales manager.

“It’s a beautiful area. The homes used to sell for half a million ringgit. Now they are worth double that,” he adds.

Only in Malaysia: at the muhibbah Tong Wah Tong cave temple, staff are proud of their ‘Lord Ganesha’, a natural limestone formation that supposedly resembles the Hindu deity. – SAIFUL BAHRI / The Star
“Last time, people could just walk in to see all this for free. Today, we are lucky to enter thanks to having Stephen here,” says Law.

This prompts another trip participant, retired hotel manager Peter Bucher, to bring up a matter of principle: “Nature should belong to the public and not be fenced off by a developer. Unless the developer built the caves.”

Still, uninhibited access has caused some damage to another heritage site near here, the Stone Age paintings of the Tambun Cave.

“Groups have just gone in and trampled the ancient shells (the remnants of Stone Age dinners!) into powder,” notes Law.

So, should access be controlled? By the Government or the private sector?

Before we can debate that, we move on to other caves, some of which have become temples, such as the nearby Nam Loong Koo Miew.

“This is the last cave temple around Ipoh with a timber facade. There are plans to demolish it and replace it with a fancy concrete structure,” says Law.

“The temple used to be Taoist but nowadays it is more oriented to Buddhism, especially the Tibetan kind. This is a trend at other Perak temples too.

“In Gopeng, for instance, I have heard how some old aunties are upset they can’t bring chicken and pork into the temple anymore as Buddhist temples are vegetarian.”

However, the Tong Wah Tong cave temple next door is still Taoist, and offers a fascinatingly eclectic mix of gods.

In fact, it is so muhibbah (racially harmonious) that its staff even point out a natural limestone formation that looks like the Hindu deity, Lord Ganesha.

Maybe heritage holds some important lessons for all of us after all....

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