Taiping, Bukit Merah & Butterworth

Date Links: Tue 24/01 │ Wed 25/01 │ Thu 26/01

Accommodation: Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-la

Taiping

The name Taiping is made up of two Chinese characters 太 (tai - 'great') and 平 (ping - 'peace'). The discovery of tin deposits in the area in the 19th century attracted settlers from China, who were organised into two feuding groups around the Cantonese Ghee Hin(義興) society and the Hakka Hai San (海山) society. British intervention in the early 1870's put an end to the feuding and the town, which used to be known as Klian Pauh, acquired its present name. The British made Taiping the administrative centre for the state of Perak in 1875. The town served this function until 1937 when the state capital was moved to Ipoh.

The town sits on a coastal plain at the foothills of the Bintang Range. This topography is responsible for the copious rainfall for which the town is known. An umbrella is not needed though as most of the time; it is just a drizzle. Locals do not wonder whether it will rain on a particular day; they wonder what time it will rain.

A stroll through the town can be a pleasant experience. You are mostly protected from the elements by the arcades on both sides of the road, a typical architectural feature in most Southeast Asian towns. Some of the older buildings have retained their stucco façades with picturesque wooden shutters. Sticking out incongruously amongst these traditional two-storey brick and plaster buildings are more modern buildings, some of them rising four or five storeys. The bluish-green hills of the Bintang Range, their summits often shrouded in cloud, are visible everywhere from the town when you look east. As you stroll in that direction, the urban landscape quickly gives way to the refreshing view of the Lake Gardens, with the hills still dominating the background.

    • Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) - a quiet hill station with an altitude of about 1000 m. Access is along a narrow single-track paved road on a fleet of dilapidated four-wheel drives run by the municipality. Accommodation is available in a couple of resthouses and a small number of bungalows.
    • Taiping Lake Gardens - public gardens created out of abandoned surface tin mines. A series of interconnected ponds surrounded by flower beds, lawns, flowering shrubs and trees and playgrounds. Famous for a stretch of road lined by century-old rain trees (Samanea saman) whose branches arch down to the water's edge.
    • Taiping Zoo and Night Safari Taiping zootaiping@zootaiping.gov.my - the first zoo to be established in Malaysia. Packed at weekends with day-trippers from out of town.
    • Daytime zoo: adults RM12, child (3 to 12 years) RM8, discounts available for school groups, senior citizens (55+), tourist groups (20+ pax); open 08:30-18:00, feeding times 10am and noon.
    • Night safari: adults RM16, child (3 to 12 years) RM10, discounts available for senior citizens (55+) and tourist groups (20+ pax); open 20:00-23:00 on weekday including public holidays, 20:00-24:00 on Saturdays and eve of public holidays.
    • Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve - forty acres of mangrove forest reserve. You will get to see a variety of flora and fauna in this undisturbed forest.

Bukit Merah

Bukit Merah Laketown Resort is an eco-tourism destination in Perak, near the towns of Semanggol and Taiping.Most of its attractions are located by a lake. It is a family vacation spot.

One can walk to most of the attractions as they are located close by. If you don't have a car, avoid staying at the apartments as they are located further out and are only accesible by car as there is no public transportation in this area.

    • Orang Utan Island - Tucked away on the 35-acre Pulau Orang Utan, Orang Utan Island is the world's first and only 5-acre rehabilitation and preservation facility where Orang Utans roam free. The unique island serves as a breeding sanctuary as well as conservation, research and education center to better understand this endangered species. There is a boat service that ferries people to and from the Island every 30-45 minutes. Entrance is RM15 for Adults and RM10 for children. Children below 90cm will not be admitted.
    • EcoPark - A 3-acre eco-friendly sanctuary, the park features three large enclosures the Bird Park, Reptile Park and Tropical Trek, where rare indigenous and exotic bird, reptile, primate and mammal species roam freely in their natural habitat. Entrance is RM10 for Adults and RM7 for children.
    • Skycycle - A monorail that gives you a breathtaking view of the surrounding tropic rainforest. The ride costs RM4 per person.
    • Village Tours - Take a tour of a traditional Malay Village and see a Malay house and school and learn to weave a grass mat. There are special combo packages available. Ask ticket offices to provide the details.
    • Water Park - Straddling an area of 11 acres, it is the largest in the northen region of Peninsular Malaysia. It has 10 different rides including Boomerang, the only of its kind in South East Asia. There is also a chairlift that will take you over the entire waterpark for a fee of RM4. Entrance to the waterpark is RM27 for Adults and RM23 for children.
Butterworth

Butterworth is the main town on the mainland side of Penang state in Malaysia.

Smaller, more industrial and practical, Butterworth does not have any of the atmosphere which Georgetown across the Penang Straits has. It is however an important transportation hub for all train and many bus services which do not go directly to Penang island.

Butterworth is also the mainland terminal for the Penang ferry.

    • Bird Park
    • Jalan Todak, Seberang Jaya, Perai, Phone:+60 4 399-1899 Fax:+60 4 399-1899. Every day, 9AM-7PM. This is the first and the largest bird park of its kind in Malaysia, houses more than 300 species of birds from throughout the world, of which about half are of Malaysian species. Experience hand-feeding birds in the geodesic domes and two giant-sized walk-in-aviaries, or take a bus either from KOMTAR or Butterworth Ferry Terminal. RM45 for adult and RM30 for children (below 12 year-old).
    • Temple of the "Ninth Emperor God"
    • at Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth, Phone: +604-331 8717. This temple will be decorated for the annual Nine Emperor Gods (Kew Ong Yeah) festival on every 9th month of Chinese Lunar Calendar. This is a very beautiful temple. The building architecture is impressive. The sculptures and carvings are very neat and nice! The temple was constructed in 2000 by about 50 craftsmen from China which has three grand prayer halls, replaces an older temple that was built next to it in 1971. Website: www.towbookong.org.my


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