Archive for May, 2010

Somewhere In Time

Text and photos by Lau Sook Mei

For cool tropical mountain air, habitat and nature, the Cameron Highlands are one of my favourite destinations.

Recently, Hong and I set off to the hills to see The Time Tunnel, a local museum located between Kea Farm and Brinchang. Hong had made an appointment with Mr See, who curates and manages the museum. We took the road from Simpang Pulai just south of Ipoh , through Pos Slim to Kampong Raja. Relaxed, we were unable to resist the views along the way; we ignored time constraint and made numerous unscheduled stops. It was a glorious Monday afternoon and there was little traffic on the road. With the blue skies above, layers of hills unfolded in shades of blue and green. Kinta Weeds, a flora endemic to the Kinta Valley,  were swaying in the gentle breeze as if to welcome us.

Past Pos Slim, we noticed some simple Orang Asli shelters, made from bamboo and covered with palm fronds. Of the one in use, providing a traditional livelihood, it had jungle produce for sale: lengths of bamboo,edible bamboo shoots and wild honey.

We wound our windows down to feel the rush of fresh cool mountain air. But we were disappointed – the air was not so cool. Ah, over-development and deforestation uphill, that was why. Still, we were piqued by the occasional chorus of cicadas that penetrated the silence of the terrain.

Closing in on Kampung Raja, we saw drastic changes in the landscape. Vast areas were covered by an expanse of plastic canopies. These were vegetable farms, flower nurseries and strawberry farms. How much of this is legal? Unchecked agricultural development has contributed to excessive chemical infiltration into the soil and erosion has silted up the streams. A massive road-side rubbish dump fouled the air – so much for profits from farming on the hills against the demands of tourism.

A valley of plastic canopies.

We passed several farming towns. Past Kea Farm and about one kilometer from Brinchang, “TIME TUNNEL The Local Museum” loomed. The sign is so big – you won’t miss it! Adrian and Julie, our friends from Ipoh who decided to join us there, were already waiting. Our host Mr See was beaming as he greeted us. With great pride, and rightly so, he ushered us into The Time Tunnel.

Our destination.

Open since early 2007, this private museum houses a private collection. Mr See had us stepped down to the mysterious and dimly-lit entrance; it beckoned us on.

There are storyboards with old photographs of the Cameron dating back to the early 1930s. One section is dedicated to its ‘founder’, William Cameron, who stumbled upon the plateau at Tanah Rata in 1885. There is John Archibald Russell, who founded Cameron’s iconic BOH Tea Plantation. Then, there is Jim Thompson, the ‘Thai silk king’ who seemed to have vanished into thin air in 1967; with his mysterious disappearance unsolved, he remains an international interest today.

James H.W. Thompson.

Once inside the main gallery, we found ourselves transported back in time. Further into the tunnel, we were awed by the astonishing collection of antiques and knick-knacks, furniture, toys, household utensils, match boxes, advertising paraphernalia – you name it, See has it.

Ways to advertise and to promote your brand!

Cigarette boxes.

Evolution of Darkie toothpaste.

Old kopitiam table.

Hong, wide-eyed and raving, couldn’t help but reminisced his younger days! Hardly able to contain herself, Julie snapped pictures at every opportunity, as did Adrian. At the sight of all the collectibles that I grew up with, my emotions swelled like a tidal wave, my recalling rushed on and on. There are cooking utensils found in “grandma’s kitchen”,

a mock-up of mum’s Sunday favourite – the hair-dressing salon,

toys like those my siblings and I fought over,

LPs (Long-Playing records) from Tom Jones to The Carpenters – dad’s favourite songs,

and so on…

There is hardly a dull moment for History buffs. Even for those not so keen in history, let your imagination run wild for images of by-gone days. You could spend hours browsing through the evocative exhibits. It is an education in social history you cannot afford to miss.

The museum is the culmination of See’s grit and dedication. See told us that when he took over the place, it was just an open-sided, elongated structure with many columns. He saw the opportunity to express his interest in the past and to provide a point of interest for tourists and locals. He walled up the structure, turning it into a tunnel, and added lights to illuminate the displays he had arranged personally.

We found the tunnel undergoing extension. See briefed us on his plan. He is acquiring more stuff to fill the new tunnel. Come August, there will be more theme displays. Apart from promoting his museum, he is also helping the Pahang state tourism promote the Cameron Highlands .

On the street-level above the Tunnel are souvenir shops and a café with a view to Kok Lim Strawberry Farm, which owns the premises. Together they make up a one-stop centre for tourists. You could take a breather from the museum and hop over to the café for some melt-in-your-mouth strawberry jam tarts (what else?) and cap it off with a cup of steaming hot tea, or an aromatic coffee.

Before we headed home, gratefully we thanked See, congratulated him for a job well-done and wished him every success.

Do check this place out. Entrance fee is very reasonable and well-worth your money. It is impossible to take in everything in one visit; you will revisit to uncover more “bits of your past” in this wonderful, growing museum.

For details of the museum, visit


Wesak Day charity lunch

by the Sinhalese Bar
2, Jalan Bijih Timah, Ipoh Old Town [corner of Market Street]

Never heard of the Sinhalese Bar?
Come and experience the pre-war charm of the historic Sinhalese Bar on this Wesak Day, 28th May 2010.
A vegetarian meal will be prepared and served by volunteers, organised by Alfred, the bar owner.
It is a charity meal for the underprivileged and the community in the neighbourhood.
Served from 1 p.m. onwards, all customers of the bar are welcome to lunch.
Your patronage and donation will be appreciated.


The PHS Perak Heritage Enthusiastic Programme

Text and photos by Lau Sook Mei

On 8th May 2010, the PHS Perak Heritage Enthusiastic Programme was held at the Syuen Hotel, Ipoh. The event brought together various governmental and non-governmental organizations, for a better understanding of issues pertaining to heritage in the state of Perak. Our President Mohd Taib Mohamed chaired this exciting gathering which ran one-and-a-half-hour overtime!


Mr President chairing the occassion.

Each representative gave an illuminating presentation on who they are and what they do.

Commander Ian Anderson, ipohWorld Sdn Bhd.

The director of ipohWorld Sdn. Bhd., Commander (rtd) Ian Anderson, started the ball rolling. His not-for-profit company is education-based. Formed in 2004, it set to promote awareness and appreciation of the heritage and social history of Perak, in particular, Ipoh and the Kinta Valley. It is attached to the Tenby School in Ipoh, where its students are involved in history-related activities. It has an archive, constructed as a digital image database, which is well-frequented. It aims to set up an educational gallery to show off the heritage of Ipoh and the Kinta Valley, including an art gallery featuring the work of local artists, as a tourist attraction.

Miss Angela Lim, POH

Initiated in August 2008, the Perak Oral History Project is an equal partnership between Perak Academy and PHS. The know-how was taught by Professor Lynn Hollen-Lees from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Oral history is recorded memories, a document which has gained importance for research work. So far, twenty interviews mainly on memories of the Japanese Occupation in Malaya during World War Two have been completed and transcribed. The next topic is the Emergency in Malaya (1948-1960). Excerpts from five interviews were shown by Miss Angela Lim, the transcriber.

Mr Law Siak Hong, PHS

For PHS, our Vice-President, Law Siak Hong highlighted what we do: spreading a conservation culture to locals in various districts and sharing local heritage features with the people there to induce pride in hometown heritage; we encourage the locals to alert PHS of any threats. Other than networking with researchers, PHS has supported other non-political NGOs in their campaigns, such as the current “Save the Temenggor”. Law stressed that conservation is not anti-re-development.  He voiced many concerns, especially of the architects and builders who flout conservation guidelines in the re-development of old sites. He suggested that PHS should like to have more Perak heritage sites in the national register. He also introduced PHS’ five branches of Perak heritage which you can find in the masthead of our blog.

Tuan Haji Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Tahir, MBI

Next, Tuan Haji Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Tahir, town planner from Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) explained the various Acts and By-laws on town planning. A total of 25 sites in Ipoh have been gazetted. Another 158 have been proposed for conservation but they would only be made public later in the year. He reminded us that property owners should observe development guidelines. He emphasized that re-development requires a written consent from the MBI because some building façades must be retained for heritage.

Encik Nor Hisham, MPT.

Encik Nor Hisham, from the heritage unit of Majlis Perbandaran Taiping (MPT), talked about Taiping’s many tourist attractions. Out of a total of 1,080 sites, ranging from the Hotel Meridien to the Lake Gardens, 83 have been gazetted; no part of these sites is allowed to be changed without the consent of the MPT. The MPT is quite serious about this; a few parties have been brought to book for illegal renovations. In Taiping, property owners are required to submit plans of their repairs and extensions. They would be advised on methods and permitted materials. The Fire Brigade Department is engaged; this has resulted in MPT permitting wooden buildings with wooden floorings in the upper level so long as top priority is given to safety and fire escape. (Definitely something for Ipoh to implement!)

Puan Noraliza, JWN.

Jabatan Warisan Negara (JWN) – the National Heritage Department – was represented by Puan Noraliza. She gave the background of the National Heritage Act 2005 (NHA), enacted in March 2006, to replace two previous Acts: Akta Harta Karun (Treasure Trove Act) 1957 and Akta Benda Purba (Relics and Antiquities Act) 1976. The NHA includes both tangible and intangible heritage, the latter not previously protected.

According to Noraliza, proposed gazettes are frequently met with objections from the owners. She stressed that JWN only wants to help the owners preserve and maintain a heritage site or building and not to seize ownership. Noraliza also touched on the channeling of funds. To get funding for repairs to their properties, owners must apply to the JWN. Once its status is confirmed, funds will be channeled from the JWN to the state for disbursement to the owner. Recently, JWN has been involved in the conservation of the Kuan Yin Temple in Gopeng, Masjid Lama Kuala Dal in Padang Rengas and Taiping’s Muzium Perak.

Cik Zuraini from Jabatan Warisan (Taiping) added that under the new Act, an object or building less than 100 years old, for example,  the KLCC, completed in 1998, can be gazetted for its outstanding design and aesthetic values. She informed that the restoration of Ipoh’s Old Post Office, at a cost of RM3million, is only a month away from completion.

The last speaker for the day was Encik Jaki, from Politeknik Ungku Omar. Since 2002, lecturer Jaki and his students have produced a bound document on the design, character and occupancy history of shophouses and other buildings in the vicinity of Ipoh. Their on-going project is a series of measured drawings of historical buildings; so far, it has completed 34 buildings in and around Ipoh, and 4 in other parts of Perak.

This Enthusiastic Programme owes its success to the tireless effort of our President Mohd Taib, and the support of members of the PHS Committee, who turned out in force. The presence of JWN (KL), Jabatan Warisan (Taiping) and Majlis Perbandaran Taiping is much appreciated as their representatives had to come from out of town on a Saturday afternoon. MBI’s presence shows its sincerity in working with heritage conservation groups. It must be mentioned that the Syuen Hotel provided quality high-tea, and gave us extended use of the meeting room without penalty.

The next meeting would be bigger, according to our President. It will include those now identified as partners in heritage conservation. We hope that the JWN, MBI and pro-heritage corporations will help fund the next event, which should cost considerably more.


MNS Activities for Month of May

Segari Beach Forest, coastal Lumut

Sunday 16th May 2010, 8am – The Lumut coast is well-known for its seascape and beach resorts. Not so well-known is the fact that it is the site of a High Conservation Value (HCV) forest, Segari Melintang Forest Reserve. This forest has been accorded HCV status because it safeguards the critically endangered Balau putih tree Shorea lumutensis. We will look out for this rare and endemic Dipterocarp while birding around the perimeter of this forest. Later we will visit the nearby Turtle Sanctuary before having a picnic lunch on the beach.

This trip is open to all members, whether you are a birder or not. Please contact either of the trip coordinators Lim Kim Chye 016-553 8431 & Lim Swee Yian 016-422 3895 to confirm attendance.

Going green – Okay, now what?

Saturday 29th May, 2-4pm – Attend an unusual talk that helps one decipher gibberish like climate change, carbon offset, biodiversity loss and strings of difficult-to-understand issues that are fueling Malaysia’s and worldwide headlines. The speaker Casey Ng attempts to cut through the clutter with eye-opening examples that are easy to digest for beginners. The talk will be held at Nature Lodge and admission is free for MNS members. Non-members are required to pay a donation of RM2, unless he/she signs up as member on the spot. Limited seats. To book a place, please contact Lee Yuat Wah at or SMS 017-5775641.

Log on to catch the latest news, updates and happenings.

Safeguarding Perak’s natural heritage for future generation
MNS Perak Branch, Nature’s Lodge, No.16 Jalan Raja Dihilir (Jalan Tambun), 31400 Ipoh, Perak.


A Tourist Walk: Old Town: Route 1

Text and photos by Lau Sook Mei

After waiting anxiously for weeks, the Ipoh Heritage Walk finally kicked off on the 25th April. The walk was jointly organized by the Perak Tourism Association and Tourism Malaysia in collaboration with Kinta Heritage. Its aims were bi-fold: to promote Ipoh as a tourist destination and to launch Kinta Heritage’s Ipoh Heritage Trail Map 1, the trail we took, which covers the north-western part of Ipoh Old Town, where monumental structures reflect early colonial town planning.

The registration tent with the Railway Station as its backdrop.

More than one hundred turned up for the walk. There were locals as well as tourists. Even Taiping Heritage Society sent a contingent. Freebies were given away: the map, a beaked-cap and a bottle of water.

The Perak Heritage Society was represented by Mohd Taib, Hong, Eddie, Sundra, Mike and yours truly; Committee Member Samuel was enlisted as a walking guide. The participants were separated into five groups, each with around twenty people. Obviously, each guide had his own interpretation and story. I wonder who was the most entertaining!

The PHS team.

We started on time, at 8.30am, with Peter Bucher as the heritage guide to our group, which included Eddie and Sundra. The youngest in our group was a fourteen-year-old boy who took the initiative to come solo since his parents were not free to accompany him. He knew about the walk through the media and, this being his first heritage walk, he found it enthralling.

Along the way...

The trail took us to 24 heritage buildings. For a better understanding of the trail, visit or better still, get a copy of the map from Kinta Heritage.

Work in progress at FMS.

The impressive Hongkong And Shanghai Bank, 1931.

Straits Trading Building (now the bank, OCBC).

Old Town as seen from across the Ipoh Padang.

In the safety of a group, we wandered into back alleys with the hope of discovering hidden gems, but that was not to be. What greeted us were eye-sores.

Tattered information board outside the Court House.

We were disappointed with the Birch Memorial Clock Tower. The ground  lacked maintenance and the clock no longer worked. There was rubbish everywhere.

None of the four clock faces tells the right time.

Unsightly mess at the base of the clock tower.

What can be said about the level of cleanliness and maintenance of our city? What picture would all these unfortunate eye-sores paint in the eyes of the tourists? What would they tell their friends back home? Would they come back?

As concerned citizens we certainly hope that the authorities would do something to improve the image of this city that tin built in order not to jeopardise expensive tourism programmes.

The walk was well-organised. Participants were treated to brunch at the ‘ Padang canteen’, and each received a certificate of participation. The heritage guides were gifted with a souvenir, and, to round off the morning and mark the occasion, a group photograph was taken.

The PHS team having brunch.

All in all, it was a Sunday morning well-spent.


Perak Heritage Society

Persatuan Warisan Perak
(Reg. No. 1254) was registered with the Registrar of Societies in August, 2003.

Office and Postal Address:
85C, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil,
30300 IPOH, Perak, Malaysia.
(opposite the Syuen Hotel)

Fax: 05-253 5507


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