Friday, February 20, 2015

Taiping - Maxwell's Hill

Taiping, like Ipoh, another Chinese tin town, is not on most travelers' itinerary for good reasons. The town is very grubby looking, as if they had run out of paint a few decades ago. Aside from that, Taiping has some redeeming qualities, for example, its plentiful and cheap food. Without exaggeration, half of the town is in the business of food services. As luck would have it, we had only one such meal. I had stomach troubles on the first day and John on the third day of a different nature. Neither case could we pinpoint the culprit; thus we'll carry on eating the same way. Getting sick once every few years is a price we can afford.

More importantly, Taiping has a very favorable natural setting. It's at the foothill of the 1500 meter Maxwell Hill, and there are picturesque lakes between the hill and town. Our original plan for the hill was to take a 4WD Land Rover to 1000m and walk the jungle trek the rest of the way. But when we marched over for the 9 o'clock departure, we were told that the road had been out of commission for 5 months because of a landslide and that this morning was the first day of reopening. However, they had many VIPs for the reopening and the first LR available for us would be at 12 noon. So, we switched to plan B, walk up from 0 to 1000m (~3300 ft).

The approach is a very straightforward, first 1 km (up to 300m) on a trail, the remaining 6 km on the road (up to 1000m), back down on the road for 9km. However, we came to find out that we were not so well equipped. In the jungle, every time I stopped for a rest, I got mosquito bites. Never mind about the dengue fever I seem to read about at every turn. Time will tell.

Even though 99% of the walk was shaded, sweat was pouring out of me faster than humanly possible. If I had brought 10 changes of clothes, I would have drenched them all. We had a total of 2 liters of water. None could be bought anywhere. We had expected tea houses/cafes on the way up and various guesthouses at the top, but none were operating. Finally when we were about 2/3 way down, we saw a Chinese man in one of the huts. After an exchange of greetings, he invited us to sit down for some tea -- danger of dying of thirst is over! It turns out different groups of Chinese friends, or clubs, maintain the huts, route water in from a nearby waterfall, and bring up gas canisters to boil water for tea; all to get away from the heat below and chat with friends over tea. What an idea!

Cruising up the North-South Expressway from Ipoh to Taiping.
Taiping, Malaysia

Taiping Central Market.
Taiping, Malaysia

Fire Station.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

The old Hotel Peace has some beautiful tiles.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Shophouses in city center Taiping - clock tower in distance.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Our sole, very tasty vegetarian meal at hawker stall B21 at the corner of Jalan Sultan Abdullah and Jalan Maharajalela. Actually not at the corner but inside the corner.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Those hawker stalls surround a grove of leafy palms - nice.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

One of the lake gardens.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

These kids were having no trouble coming down Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut in Malay) in their flip-flops.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

The trail is maintained in places with crude steps and rope.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Taking a break at the 300 meter mark with fellow sufferers. These young folks sprung by us in the first few meters, but we soon caught up to them. ;-)
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Once on the road we kept leap-frogging these guys with the surveyor's wheel. Guess they were confirming the distance up the newly surfaced and buttressed road. GPS?
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Wringing sweat out of my shirt.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Another group of university students we were leap-frogging up the hill. This shot is in a viewing pavilion at 1000 meters. It was too hazy for a worthy shot of the view.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Land Rover coming up switchbacks.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Sun-Ling and Mr Lim at his hut.
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

You are not snatching my bag!
Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

6 comments:

Crash Eddy said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, this GM Earth view doesn't show any picturesque lakes. Do I have something wrong here? http://goo.gl/LUiu2t

Kathy said...

Wow, sorry to hear about the mosquitoes and the intestinal problems. Hope you're feeling better now. All that heat and humidity almost persuades me I'm better off in the current deep freeze in NC. Almost.

Crash Eddy said...

Wringing sweat from your Tshirt makes me remiss in reporting what you are missing here. Yesterday, the thermometer at RDU sank to 7 degrees by 6 am. The previous record low temperature for the date was 13 degrees in 1979. Climate change.

john said...

Crash, Find the Lake Gardens southwest of the ZOO at 4.851066, 100.748168. Not that the water is green in the sat photo; makes them look more like a golf course. haha

Sun-Ling said...

@Kathy, I agree! We like Malaysia very much, except for the heat. BTW, there were only a handful of mosquitoes, but they manage to find me and bite me through my clothes!

Liz said...

Your hiking is impressive! The tea house concept is so lovely. Miss you Sun-Ling!