Departing from the traditional hotspots of JB, KL and Malacca, Ipoh promised to be a scope into the world of less commonly seen Malaysia
By Brandon Era
I woke up with a start, with my room’s phone going off like a siren. It seemed like an eternity before I realised, I was already almost late for the train ride to Ipoh!
I took a quick shower, got dressed like a madman and randomly stuffed clothing and my laptop into my luggage, and dashed to the lobby of the hotel I was staying in, in Kuala Lumpur.
It was a late night the night before and that was due to the amazing launch of the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 that a lucky few of us got to experience first-hand. But I must add that it was still an ungodly hour to wake up, getting ready to depart for the train station before six o’clock in the morning.
The train carriage was filled with commuters who were still groggy from their slumber the night before, and I was among them. I did try my best to stay awake, however, to take in the natural beauty of Malaysia.
Plantations flourished on both sides of the track, with an occasional panoramic view of hills and lakes that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
After a not-so-long two-hour journey, our group found ourselves in the almost empty station of Ipoh that lazy morning. Our driver who met us there, and who was smiling from ear to ear, eagerly helped us to load our luggage and to take us on our journey through this small but naturally amazing town.
Mystery of the Unfinished Castle
Our first stop was Kellie’s Castle, also known as Kellie’s Folly. It wasn’t a castle of Hogwarts proportions but a castle nonetheless. It is in ruins and unfinished, built by Scottish planter William Kellie Smith.
According to slightly differing accounts, this castle was meant to be a gift for his wife and son. I have to give Kellie credit, that he sure knew how to pick a spot.
Words can hardly describe the view that you can get when you are at the top of the castle. Kellie had humour to boot, with a tennis court, albeit unfinished, on the very same roof on which we were standing.
The castle was never finished due to his untimely passing in Portugal, in 1926. He contracted pneumonia and died while sourcing for supplies to complete his castle. The spread of a strain of the Black Death also wiped out the majority of his workers.
This gave rise to the belief of hauntings of the castle. I was unable to confirm any of these suspicions due to the incredibly sunny day. I wonder why the supernatural and “beings from beyond” seem to only enjoy the darkness.
A Lost World & Paradise
Our lodging for the night was in the Lost World of Tambun, in Ipoh, and we had an excellent dinner of barbecued seafood and various meats. The hotel itself was an exciting change from the city.
The place was a theme park resort that probably had one of the best views in town, with the hotel being at the foot of the mountain.
I managed to try jumping off a 40-foot ledge and propelled down with nothing but a rope attached to my harness. I must admit that I felt a lot more confident on the ground as compared to when I was up there, to say the least.
The day had started early, and I was well and truly exhausted by the end of it, but the adventure had yet to reach its conclusion.
Look out for the next part of the story on the Malaysia trip in our Feb 7 issue, on Penang.
This trip was made possible by Tourism Malaysia.