Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Kuala Lipis

The Sungai Jelai river

Another short stop on our way south to Singapore, Kuala Lipis (estuary or mouth the junction of two rivers, Sungai Lipis and Sungai Jelai) was at one time the capital of the state of Pahang until 1953. As such, the British built some reasonably interesting colonial buildings, but due to intermittent and sometimes severe flooding of the rivers, most of these buildings are built on hills or higher ground, making the town fairly spread out. The exception is the Chinese area which fronts the river and, behind it, the railway station which is on slightly higher ground.

A small kitten with stumpy tail (common here) gets some attention.
The city has a ‘forgotten’ feel about it and since the re-siting of the state capital to Kuantan it seems that visitors seldom stop here so, once again our white faces are in the minority. It’s not a bad place though and well worth the one and a half days we’ve spent here. Our hotel is very nice, quite new with clean well equipped rooms and a decent size and is in the new area, but only a 10 minute walk to the old. There are also a couple of restaurants nearby, one of which lies at the edge of the new area, which is on a hill and gives quite good views over the city, so last night we ate there, returning to our hotel just before the heaven’s opened, with an impressive storm and quantity of monsoon rain that lasted quite a few hours.

The closed and sadly neglected Pahang Club
The terrace at the Pahang Club
Today in grey skies we went for a walk round the historic buildings while it was still a reasonable temperature. Some buildings had been renovated and looked pretty good, but others, notably the old Pahang Club, built in 1907 was closed, neglected and in a decaying state, even though it’s a protected, listed building. It’s built of wood and has an old world charm about it, despite its sad condition and, although we couldn’t go inside, we could walk around the outside and stand on the old terrace, where British officers and gentlemen would have sat drinking, smoking and discussing colonial business.

this owl at the zoo was not happy when I got close with my camera
The other sad place we visited was the local zoo. Sad because of the conditions for the animals and also the death traps of steep slopes and steps for visitors. It was only RM3 (£0.60) each to get in, but it really should be closed down. A crocodile was in an old pit with no water that had obviously drained out through lack of maintenance, various primates were in small cages on their own, one little monkey came over to us as we paid it attention and he kept sticking is arm through the cage so we could hold his little hand. He did like us being there though as he started dashing around his cage, swinging off things and eating and then coming back to us, putting his arm through to touch us. There were plenty of other animals, but all seemed uncared for. It really needs closing down and the animals sent somewhere where they have more space and better caring!

Kuala Lipis from the hill top zoo
The restored State Secretary's House, now a museum
Anyway, we visited a few more buildings and came away with the feeling that it was a great spread out city in amongst jungle, but has been left behind and can’t quite decide what it is or what it wants now, but it is quite a nice place. It wants to be visited, but not many people do!

Anyway, we move on again tomorrow by train again, one night in Gemas, arriving after 6:00pm after a 5 hour journey (depending on the punctuality of the train, which was an hour late when we left Gua Musang!) and leave again on the 06:46 morning train for a 5 hour journey to Johor Bahru, so no time for a blog entry tomorrow!

The railway bridge over the Sungai Jelai. This walkway had a number of rotten boards, some of which had been replaced with tree branches! It didn't stop moped riders using it though.
She said I could have ONE piece of cake (it is real cake by the way)!
Late note: we’ve just got in from dinner, having walked 5 minutes or so to an Indian restaurant nearby. Excellent food that was self-service from a buffet and, after they had pointed out the various dishes in limited English, pointing to the one’s that weren’t spicy, we chose the one’s that they told us were very spicy. They weren’t that hot, just nicely hot, served with Biryani rice, popadums and a non-alcoholic iced lime drink. We sat down in the covered, but open sided dining area with a fan on full blast behind me, so fast it blew one of our popadums away! The local cats took a liking to us and came over for some of our food, three cats in all including one kitten, so Jackie was very happy. (So was Brian, in fact he was the first to feed the little white kitten!).

Happy that is until near the end of our meal, when it was virtually dark and the insects came out, in this case swarms of very large flying ants that got caught in the fan and propelled to us, hitting us on the head, landing on the table and in the remains of our meal (and one down my front!) We had to finish quickly, pay and leave to get away and as we walked to the 7-11 convenience shop to get our usual after dinner ice cream, we could see swarms of the things in the street lights. The 7-11 shop had its lights out as the swarms were landing outside in the lights and they didn’t want them inside. They were just everywhere, even in the doorway and the foyer of our hotel, just hope they don’t get into our room round the gaps in the window frame. Just a bizarre experience! So, fire in The Blue Mountains outside Sydney, where we went with mum and flood in at least three of the places we have been in Malaysia and now a plague of flying ants! Whatever next?

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