Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cuti Cuti Malaysia 5: Dec 28 2006, Sixth Day, Thursday, Kulim

Ever since our first end of the year sojourn up north we had never really stop at Taiping to really explore it. When we planned this trip I had two very good reasons to do it. First was the Taiping Night Zoo Safari and second Bukit Larut (used to known as Maxwell Hill). We left Kulim quite early and soon enough we were in Taiping. I followed the signs in Taiping and decided to check out the places first before checking at Seri Malaysia for rooms. A nice surprise was to discover as we approached Taiping town that Seri Malaysia was along the way and at the vicinity of the Taiping Lake Garden and everything else that we wanted to explore. First I drove to the foot of Bukit Larut to get exact information on how to go up the hill. I was told the days ticket had been sold out and was asked to come as early as 0800 the next day. Which was my plan anyway? Another nice discovery was that the Taiping zoo was actually within the Lake Garden with that my mind was set to get two rooms at Seri Malaysia. I drove around the lake garden and turned into Seri Malaysia and we were very fortunate to get two connecting rooms for the night.

Quickly I made plan for the night and were out of our rooms as soon as we said our prayers.

Taiping is a historical town which I feel a lot of Malaysians took for granted, including Taipingese themselves. This was what drove me to really wanting to explore the place. When I was home after the trip I did a search on Taiping using Google and came back with slightly more than 1 million hits world wide and around 165K hit from Malaysian sites. Quite impressive no doubt. I doubt it that many Malaysians know that the Taiping Zoo is the first in Malaysia. Yes, it is sad but that is the truth as some of us prefer to travel oversea to find history and culture yet we have a lot within our own backyard.

Comparatively I knew it was quite a big town and just trying to initiate some senses to my family I drove around town. Of course you would not find all those big malls and hypermarket (Carrefour was due to be completed in 2007) but the town is huge with history. As we passed streets after streets we could see and feel the history, mostly provoked by the old historical buildings around us. One major mistake that I made during this was not really walking the town. (Hey! A good reason to go back to Taiping :). Maybe the main turn-off that day was the unusually hot day. But the first in our agenda then was to find a place to eat and with sheer luck we ended up at the bazaar. I can’t recall the name of the bazaar but it was along the same street as The Store. I guess the main street for people of Taiping. Just like the old bazaar that I am used to there were eateries at the ground level and bazaar on the second. We did not have a clue as what was the best to eat in Taiping but for sure at least two of us had to have rice. So we just sat at the high potential stall and had our lunch. No pressure to go anywhere we took our own sweet time eating and joined the Kakak who owned the stall in common conversation. With no fixed plan I suggested we go up to the second floor to check out the rest of the bazaar and a major event took place :). The major event was actually I ended up spending around RM500 buying jeans for everyone. Well it started when I saw this sale sign for Lee, Lois etc. Lee at RM99 was something worth checking out I thought. With a combination or good salesmanship and my porous resistant towards shopping the guy managed to convince me to take a serious walk down memory lane buy buying Rider jean and Lee Chetopa, I almost added Lee Corduroy. Seeing me at my weakest moment my children grabbed the opportunity to add on their own collection. But I must tell you here that I actually had to persuade, yes I persuaded her, my wife into buying one for her. Of course to the salesman that was the biggest sale and commission for him to date but to me a flat wallet. But I was happy.

We continued to walk the street and saw few other shops worth checking out but not before me tracking back to see ‘my good friend’ (Kawanku) to replenish my supply of RM. Crisscrossing the street finally we entered The Store as a finale, I just knew it had got to be The Store.

Mar saw the pool when we checked in and she reminded me of it. Since we were going to the night safari as well we drove back to the hotel to rest a bit.

You have a choice of either walking or to take the tram around the zoo. Of course I was bullish to walk but my wife thought otherwise. If I said walk the kids would have just towed behind me but considering the zoo was a bit dark I opted for the tram. I had been to the Singapore Night Zoo before so it naturally became my benchmark and I am glad to report Taiping Night Zoo Safari is not that far behind. Of course camera flash was not allowed and I had to content myself with slow speed night photography, which did not come out well. Artistically the photographs are good as they depict movement and flow. After completing one round around the zoo on the tram we were given option to explore a bit more on our own. Baqir, Mar and myself decided to do just that but Sam, Kakak and Kak Cik chose to stay behind at the main plaza to wait. We walked in the dark to admire the animal night life especially the Savannah. We did not do the whole zoo but chose to walk the second ring that was better. We enjoyed it until Mar got restless. I sense she saw something that not suppose to be there J) and we walked a bit faster.

We joined the rest at the plaza took some photos and left the zoo for dinner at the hotel. We chose the hotel because we were bought by the advertisement we found in our room. It was a mistake as the food were lousy and the service appalling. Can you imagine eating a steak, a hard one to boot, with a butter knife? We could have explored other places to eat. Since we were going up Bukit Larut very early the next morning we decided to retire early. Not before I was pissed off with the hotel staff.

After dinner I went to the reception to enquire about the wireless internet access and I paid for a half day service. Once at the room I tried to connect but I can’t and I called the reception to enquire. After few minutes of talking he said he will call back. He did saying that there was a submarine cable failure because of the earthquake in Taiwan. I was really pissed off hearing that and said to him, ‘ Why in the world you sold me the service then?’ ‘We were just informed’ was the reply. ‘It doesn’t matter it is your job to know and your service provider to inform you and not until a customer complaint!’ and bang I slammed the phone.

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