Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ipoh's hidden treasures

The Kek Look Tong entrance

Nope..Nope..I'm not referring to some gold or diamond or even silver hidden in Ipoh though Ipoh is in the state called 'silver' or Perak in Malay Language.
What I mean by Ipoh's hidden treasures are all the caves (Tong in Chinese language). Ipoh has so many Tongs and they are all magnificent. In fact, there is one 100 years old-cave has just been recovered and rebuild. Apparently the flood and the jungle have 'swallowed' it. That cave isn't far from Sam Poh Tong. These caves are maintained for people to pray, mostly are the Buddhists, these caves are also open for public to see the grandeur of God's artwork combined with human touch. Some of the famous ones I know are Sam Poh Tong, Ling Sen Tong, Perak Tong, Kek Look Tong, and Gua (cave) Tempurung (coconut shell).

The most famous one is Sam Poh Tong in Gunung Rapat area. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos during my visit there but you can always google it. I like Sam Poh Tong. I visited this cave not to pray but to feed the tortoises with the leaves I bought from old ladies who sell them in front of the gate at RM3 a bunch. There are so many tortoises in the pond at the back area of Sam Poh Tong. You have to go up, pass the big Buddha statue into the back opening of the cave. When you are there, I'm sure your jaw will drop to see how wonderful the 'hidden' view is. It's so majestic. I lost my words to describe how wonderful the view is. I suggest you go there yourself and discover this awesome view by yourself.
Ok, back to the tortoise business, my husband told me, according to the Chinese belief feeding the tortoises brings longevity and good luck because tortoises have long life and the fact that those tortoises are not inverted for ages reflect how lucky these tortoises are. It's not that simple to feed the tortoises because you have to throw the leaves as far as possible so that the tortoises that don't want come close to you can eat as well. This is the fun. My husband and I will race to see who can throw the leaves the furthest...:D

Another cave I have visited is Kek Look Tong and this time I took some photos for you to see.
This cave is not as famous as Sam Poh Tong or Perak Tong because it's quite hidden. You have to follow the road sign, drive pass Gunung Rapat neighbourhood, pass a Muslim cemetery, then only you will reach this Tong. The moment you arrive at this Tong, I'm sure you will say "Awesome!" and your jaw drop longer this time... :D
The view is definitely awesome. This limestone cave is bigger and cleaner compared to Sam Poh Tong. Go inside the cave, walk pass the huge Buddha statue until you find the back opening of the cave. Again, here you are going to love the view of Ipoh limestone hills.
I visit this cave, again, not for praying but to feed the fishes and to do feet reflexology... :D Sure you'll be wondering why the hell I go to a cave to get my feet massaged. By who? Well, there is no masseuses or masseurs in the cave, but there is a pathway made from uneven rocks for you to do the feet reflexology. This is the fun part for me and my husband because normally we will race walking on the pathway full of uneven rocks. In reflexology, who ever is able to walk on this uneven rocks without any pain on the feet, that means this person is very healthy. Those uneven rocks give pressure on different spots on your feet to help you to cope with some sickness inside your body.
The first time I tried walking on the rock, I screamed in pain and my husband laughed so loud. He found it funny. But then when it was his turn to walk on the pathway, he sreamed even louder. Whua..ha..ha..then it was my turn to laugh.. :D
Slowly I could cope with the pain and I try to keep on walking on the pathway. I can feel the pressure hit my nerve.
Usually, after I come back from doing free-reflexology in Kek Look Tong, I will be able to sleep well at night. The next day when I wake up, I'll feel fresh and have more energy for my daily activities.
As for feeding the fishes, you have to bring your own fish food. No old ladies sell the fish food outside Kek Look Tong. According to the chinese belief, feeding the fish is another way of bringing good luck for you and your family. Oh, there are some tortoises also in this Tong but is not as many as the ones in Sam Poh Tong. There are more fishes here and fishes are huge.

I have not had a chance to visit other caves such as Perak Tong and Gua Tempurung. The latter one is the biggest limestone cave and is quite wet. It's located at Gopeng area on the way to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh. I have passed by Perak Tong at Jalan Kuala Kangsar area but I didn't get a chance to stop by.

My husband likes to take the whole family or just me for a stroll at the cave area. Visiting the cave is a good way for my husband to spend quality time with his small family or just spend time with his beloved wife, me... :) It's free entertainment for the whole family because there is no entrance fee to visit the caves, at least the ones I have been. But you are welcome to donate some money for the cave maintenance.

If you visit Malaysia, do not forget to come to Ipoh which is about 2.5 hour-drive from Kuala Lumpur. In Ipoh, you can visit the hidden treasures I talked about and you can also visit other tourist attractions such as Museum Darul Ridzuan, Kellie's Castle, the Hindu temples, and of course, the famous Pomelo stalls not far from Sam Poh Tong.
Ipoh pomelos are very famous because the pomelos are very sweet and very juicy. You just can't find them anywhere in the world.
Ipoh is also famous for the delicious food especially the tauge ayam (chicken with bean sprout or Ngah choy kai in local language). Ipoh bean sprout is also special. It's big, fat, and juicy.
Living cost in Ipoh is alot cheaper compared to Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

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