Year-end break part 1 – Taiping 

The first break since Vietnam in May, and I was really looking forward to this! Because of the falling ringgit and for convenience, we decided to explore the country and opted for Pulau Pangkor. But first, I heard that my cousin from Norway was visiting in Taiping, so we headed there for two nights and it was such an awesome experience.

Love old restored colonial houses!

Firstly, let me say that I am still very much an urban boy, even though I long for the day to move to a smaller town and live a less hectic lifestyle. My late uncle, however, had the good fortune to be posted in Taiping back in 1964 (years before I was born). This sleepy little town reminds me of Twin Peaks or Wayward Pines, leafy green and surrounded by the mountains of the Titwangsa range.

Famous for being a retirement home, Taiping is known for two things for generations, and another recently. Firstly, the Taiping Lake Gardens surrounds former tin mines that now makes up its lake. Equipped with exercise apparatus and a pathway, many spend a lot of time here, due to the lush greenery and hanging rain trees.

Secondly, Taiping boasts Malaysia’s first hill station, Maxwell Hill, also known as Bukit Larut. It is said to be the smallest hill stations (the others being Fraser’s Hill and Cameron Highlands). You have to options of going up, either by foot or by jeep. It is a good workout by foot!

Thirdly, Taiping now has a pretty famous zoo and night safari. We opted to go for the night safari, which we discovered was really a ride through the zoo at night. Still, it was an enjoyable experience, with the crocodiles, elephants, zebras, hippos and lions being pretty visible, to name a few.

The highlight was probably my uncle’s refurbished shop lot home. It was just so beautifully exquisite in its restoration, maintaining the old world colonial charm, while incorporating modern conveniences, such as the fantastic bathrooms!

Food, as ever, played a major part of our short visit, with us trying famous chendol (the shop was always busy and the queue was always long) on a cross street near Barrack Road, together with some great nasi lemak and southern Indian food. The prices were great but the portions were small (which is fine by me!).

Buying mala beads

The visit I feel was far too short! I would have liked to have had more time to walk and explore. I guess this is greater incentive to visit again soon!