Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane - Day 4


Sri Garden Hotel Kangar.

We checked out of the hotel immediately after having our breakfast of nasi lemak at the hotel. Our inquiry with the receptionist indicated that even the more expensive rooms are equipped with the same bedding materials so we have no choice but to change hotel though I like the wifi facility so much.

Our destination today is Gua Kelam along the way to Padang Besar. The place is quite easy to find with sufficient road signs to show us the way. Though we had known that Gua Kelam is closed for repair due to a severe flooding of the cave at the end of March 2011 we decided to see the place non the less. Gua Kelam is wet cave with a swiftly running stream through it coming from the other side of the limestone hillock which is part of the Nakawan Range. A wooden boardwalk had been built from one end to the other providing a lighted passageway across. The flood had damaged the wooden boardwalks and they are now under repair which should be completed soon. They are scheduled to open tomorrow! What luck! How I wish we could stay for another day to walk into the cave after it’s reopening.

The entrance to the cave is at the end of the road and the 1000 steps to the top of the hillock is on the right of it.

The entrance with a river running through the whole cave system

A peek into the darkness of the cave.

There is also a gallery displaying artifacts found in another man made cave which was formed by tin miners. A mini train used to run from the top of the gallery to about 400 meters into the cave but the service was suspended after a serious accident happened when a group of youths rode it into the caves. According to the park ranger, the youths had behaved worse than monkeys that live around the area. The loaded train was being rocked by the youth riders to scare off their fellow riders. The carriage had broken off from the front driving loco which is made of a forklift driven by an electric motor. The coaches with the full load of passengers had ran backward slowing gaining momentum along the inclined rail and the riders had no way to jump down due to the tight space between the walls. The carriages stopped only when it hit the end steel barricade with more than sufficient force to injure some of them. Though no life was lost, the accident was serious enough for the park management to suspend the service.

The coaches of the train whose services is currently suspended.

The section of the river from the cave entrance to the Gallery is well landscaped and is an ideal place for picnics. Ample and well maintained shelters with seats are available.

Fungi found growing at the base of a tree trunk.

For those agile and energetic enough can walk up the thousand steps for an exhilarating vista view from the top of the limestone outcrop. How I wish I am in my youths again to walk up those steps.

The wooden dulang found in the tin mine cave. This cave is purported to be the largest mining cave in the world.

We were told that there is a Pusat Latihan Khidmat Negara camp on the other side of the cave and we could drive over to the other side to see the opposite entrance via the camp. We were not keen to see the other entrance and decided to visit Wang Kelian instead.

Wang Kelian is another border entrance to Thailand. The road to Wang Kelian is via a torturous incline very much like the old route to Cameron Highlannds from Tapah. The only difference was it is being much shorter but much steeper accent.

Along the way we saw an uninhabited housing area which seems to be a big mistake for the developer. There is no sign to indicate who is the foolish developer. Another white elephant along the way was a bazaar with just a couple of shops being opened without a shopper in sight.

The immigration and custom checkpoint with a duty free shop beside it. We made the greatest mistake by not going beyond the check point as that was where the real Wang Kelian with it rows of shop houses is.

The white elephant with just two shops open. This bazaar may thrive occasionally when the peak tourist season that is the school holidays is on.

We returned to the main road to Padang Besar and headed straight for Padang Besar.

Just like Bukit Kayu Hitam, Padang Besar is a busy entry point to Malaysia not only for passenger vehicles but for good laden heavy vehicles.

We headed straight for the Bazaar where most outlets stock cheap goods from Thailand. Here you can find large ‘Deuter’ bag packs at below RM100. So are many other branded T shirts and shoes, all going for a song compared to the price for ‘originals’ displayed in many outlet in posh shopping complex. I doubt many of us could differentiate between the fakes and the originals and for all we know it maybe the same products.

I had a bowl of ‘pulut pauh’ glutinous rice with sweetened coconut milk accompanied by slices of sweet Thai mango at a warong beside the bazaar to tide my hunger.

Inside the main bazaar.

As is in most border towns in Malaysia, the selling items are those that depict something from Thailand. In this instance it is Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok. Why not Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur?

Here branded 'Deuter' backpack costing below RM100 are available.

We returned to our car to drive back to Kangar. Along the way we stopped at Tasoh Resort. This resort is located on the fringe of the Timah Tasoh Reservoir, a splendid resort but in a state of degradation. I guess poor business is depriving this resort from retaining its splendour and glory. A restaurant by the lake side shows signs that it is only operational in the evening.

Passing through Kangar, we drove onward to Kuala Perlis to check on a hotel that is offering rooms at a promotional rate of RM98 per night without breakfast. We had a slight problem locating the hotel as it did not display any name on the rear of the building though it was clearly visible from the town.

Putra Berasmana Hotel, nice room with a nice view but poor wifi.

I should have checked this small hotel which claim to provide bedsheet with 280 thread count and not only wifi but wired internet. Their standard room cost only RM85 during off peak season.

The wifi connection at Putra Berasmana Hotel was bad. I couldn’t get any access at all though the wifi connection strength was OK. With that failure, I decided to rest my tired body. The lack of sleep the previous night due to poor bedding clearly showed it on the both of us.

After a shower and a nap and it was still early afternoon, we decided to visit a family friend in Arau which is about 20 kms from Kuala Perlis. Tuan Haji Shuib and Puan Latifah was on an Umrah package with us in April 2011. Tuan Haji Shuib had to be admitted to a hospital in Mecca when he vomited blood after performing the Shaie. He was suspected to be suffering from stomach ulcer. By the time we finished our Umrah, Tuan haji Shuib had recovered pretty well to travel back to Malaysia where his children took him to a private hospital in Damansara for further treatment.

We reached Arau and purposefully stopped in front of Istana Arau and called Tuan Haji Shuib. He told us to wait there as he will arrive in 14 minutes. Half an hour later we reached Haji Shuib’s residence in Taman Jejawi mere 5 kms away from Kangar! We should have contacted Tuan Haji Shuib while we were in Kangar which we didn’t. Taman Jejawi is located between Kangar and Arau in the district of Arau.

We had so much to talk about and Tuan Haji Shuib who was a former teacher and headmaster had so much to share about his teaching days.

My request to take leave to return to my hotel in Kuala Perlis was vetoed out as he wanted us to take to dinner at a nearby restaurant a short distance from his home. Puan Latipah was fasting for that day. Steamed siakap, chicken tomyam, beef soup and fried egg stuffed with some condiments was extremely delicious.

We left for our hotel immediately after dinner. Tonight we need all the rest we could get to prepare for tomorrow which will be a drive to Prai with a stopover at Tuan Haji Zakaria’s place in Gurun.


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pak Zawi,
I can't wait for the whole series to be completed to give my comments. We haven't been to Perlis since the 1990s. It's a pity about the empty bazaars and the while elephants. Your travel journal has now revoked certain memories and we're now looking at Agoda's offerings. What's the name of thet hotel with the 280 thread count linen? purrr....meow!

Pak Zawi said...

Its T Hotel. The T is for Tandop and they have 2 other hotels in Tandop, Changlon beside this one in Kuala Perlis. I will edit the story and put in some details such as websites or telephones where applicable.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Great photos and narration, Abang Zawi! Those fake Deuter rucksacks won't last -- I keep telling my friends but I guess they had to learn it firsthand the hard way. The fungi is beautiful. If it isn't poisonous we can use it in a flower bouquet! As for the picnic area, it looks very cool and inviting but a bit dirty. I wish people would care enough to leave their natural surroundings clean and tidy. I am glad the mini-train services were suspended. The wooden carriages look pretty unsafe, like something you would find in India or Nepal.

Pak Zawi said...

Ee Lynn,
Yeah they wont last no doubt but when you pay cheap don't expect too much on quality.
As to the picnic area, the workers were doing some cleaning up at the time of my arrival.
The mini train carriages we made of thin hollow metals with wooden seat. Th coupling were pretty flimsy that is why they broke off when rocked by those mischievous kids. Lucky thing no life was lost, just some minor injuries and trauma to give those kids a lesson to behave.

AWANG said...

I order 2grade AAA Deuter backpack & cost me Rm150 including poslaju.I know its fake deuter (tak kan Original deuter boleh dapat 2 for Rm150 kan..)walau bagai mana pun kita bukan heavy or hard core adventure person..Kita pakai pun!!! kalau ori yg size medium boleh sampai Rm600 for 2backpack...betul tak???.
Anyway..Thanks for sharing yr trip.

Pak Zawi said...

Even my 40 liter Deuter cost SINGD200 more than 10 yrs ago and another friend bought a 60 liter Karrimor at RM650 at a sale in KL at about the same time. When the non original is cheap you can always replace with a new one should it get damaged. Anyway losing a fake isn't as bad as losing an original Deuter as had experienced.

Wan Sharif said...

Reached Perlis 4 times but as yet to do my sightseeing.. too busy fulfilling the purpose of the trips but has sampled Timah Tasoh boat trip, Kuala Perlis Dinner etc. Now that I have read your exploit maybe I will just go and do my sightseeing there soon. Have too many friends for a few days stay.. have to be there for at least 10 days to cover what you have achieved here! ;(.

Pak Zawi said...

You don't have to do them all, just be selective and do those that are worth seeing. Remember to go in May when the Harumanis mango is in season and please don't miss Gua Kelam. Another thing not to miss is a western dinner at MaiCafe. Five star meal at 3 star price. We missed laksa Kuala Perlis though I satyed the night in Kuala Perlis. The reason why? Tuan Haji Shoib insist that we have tomyam dinner with his family.

Al-Manar said...

Pak Zawi,
I am truly pleased to see you back blogging, peresting subjects you are very good at. Not just an artist, you are also a good photographer. You may not see much comments from me but I did enjoy your posting until you stopped suddenly.

Pak Zawi said...

It is so heartening for me to see you left your footprint here. Thank you for being one of my reader and above all thank you for the nice words about my site. I promise to do my best and make regular posts as I now know there are many silent readers like you out there. A word once in a while surely will push us on.

chiabh said...

hi zawi...

i understand that the weekend market is only on sundays across the border in wang kelian... the road to the immigration checkpoint is jam packed... i remembered when i was in kuala perlis, we came across a bridge over the river to a riverine village... or was it part of the was so scenic... will try to locate it again during our next trip... ~chia

Pak Zawi said...

It wasn't a Sunday when we were there so we missed the fun. Wold love very much to see pictures of the riverine village that you mention. Seeing their pictures is our only option as we won't be driving that way anytime soon.