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MALAYSIA | Tuesday, 1 May 2012 | Views [1020]

Kek Lok Tong Goddess

Kek Lok Tong Goddess

Ipoh, the state capital of Perak. Even the brochures from the tourist office struggle to make this place sound exciting. I figure I'll pay a one day visit anyway, which would be enough time to see what's on offer. It also has the advantage of breaking up the trip north to Alor Setar in two. The vast majority of the Bus ride from Kuala Lumpur is through motorway and therefore should not have caused any motion sickness except that I insisted on watching the scenic views out the window.

Just as yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, the temperature is well above 30. After arriving at the bus station, I decided to forgo the manliness of walking the 2km to the main hotel area and took a taxi. The most striking thing about the population of this city is that it's dominated by Chinese. Cantonese also seems to be the dominant language amongst the Chinese, which was lucky for me as English isn't widely spoken. Although this didn't stop some of the locals from refusing to help a "brother".

My timing also sucks! I've discovered the reason for the many closed shop is that today is Labour Day in Malaysia. So now I have half a day to fill when many of the landmarks are closed. I begin my tour at the Ipoh Railway Station. It's described as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh. While it's a pretty building, this nickname could only have been applied by someone afflicted by a sense of reckless exaggeration or who's never actually seen the real thing. I present my case (OK, you've got to ignore the construction work in front):

The next item was the Clock Tower, something that's supposed to be very close to the railway station. A short walk that turned into 2 hours as I got mis-directed by various people who feel the need to offer directions regardless. So just for the record, it's no more than 300 metres from the station! In any case, I was not pleased with the fruits of my labours:

There's are three famous cave temples in the city and after some lunch, I only have enough time to visit one. I chose Kek Lok Tong just because it's the closest. It's 5 O'clock now and I find a taxi to take me to the temple with with at least 2 hour stay before the temple closes. The dude drives to a completely different temple (Perek Tong) and only then does he realise his mistake. Rush hour is in full swing and a storm is approaching Ipoh, and now I'll have about 45 miutes at the temple.

Kek Lok Tong is a Buddhist temples set in limestone caves. Full of stalactites, stalagmites and columns, some of which are oddly shaped giving the whole temple and eerie look. 

A full 10 minutes before the scheduled closing time, I'm told by the temple staff I have to leave. There's no choice but to get in the taxi to leave, only to find that the guard has already lock the exit. It takes another 10 minutes before we find the guard to let us out, though not without a tirade of abuse.

To emphasis my bad luck, the forecasted tropical storm begans and it's slow go back to the hotel as the roads are flooded. Finally ye Gods aim one last kick at me, there's no internet connection back at the hotel, probably due to the downpour. The problem being that I'd decided to head to Alor Setar without a real plan, just making things up as I go along. Malaysia, please make your internet system storm-proof, fire-proof and if possible super-duper-bomb-proof.

Tags: chinese, ipoh, malaysia


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