Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Voyage Round the Taiping Lake Gardens

When they were living in The Midlands of England, my parents took my two-something brother to Twycross Zoo for a close encounter with the lions. Before she turned two, my sister got the opportunity to be up close and personal with the koalas at the stupendously breathtaking Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Needless to say, my brother tagged along too.
As some of you may know, I celebrated my second birthday recently. Alas, I have never been to any real zoos, until yesterday. My parents finally remedied their remissness just before they wrapped up the two-week school holiday. No, we did not fly to England or Australia to see the animal kingdom. We all went to Taiping Zoo, which is equally remarkable, although nothing can top the elevated Taronga Zoo with its panoramic view of the Sydney Cove, Opera House and the so-called coathanger bridge.

But, the bonus is, on the way there we stopped for buffet lunch at the Sarkies Corner. It is the same old story. The place has a distinctly Chinese feel. I ate lots of strawberries and other dainty deserts. My parents were complacent with the consistently perfect grilled salmon fillets, so much so they were not tempted to try the very long and slender Japanese fish.
In the middle of the long lunch, when I was getting restless, Papa took me out for a stroll along the promenade of the Eastern and Oriental Hotel. As usual, I had to strike a few poses. Not that I am complaining.
Now, back to the zoo thingy. It is situated in the picturesque, serene and verdant Taiping Lake Gardens, famous for its luxurious rain trees with fat trunks and shapely branches, near the foot of Bukit Larut (formerly Maxwell Hill). As soon as we entered the zoo, a long queue for the mini trains was already building up, despite the trains coming and going at frequent intervals. Although the location is not as perfect as Taronga Zoo, the animals seem happy and contented here, especially the orang utans who monkeyed around mischievously. It is very rare to stumble upon unoccupied kandangs, unlike the “zoo” at the Terengganu State Museum that we visited in 2007. All the kandangs there were virtually empty. Have the animals too been mistreated, not unlike what happened to rambling and exquisite mosques in the land of keropok lekor? On our way out, Papa uprooted one or two exotic plants hoping that they will grow and bloom in the wee gardens or “conservatory” of our pondok in Suasana Permai.

We then drove slowly and leisurely round and round the Taiping Lake Gardens to soak in the atmosphere and indulge in a spot of people gazing, with intent. The invigorating place was teeming with serious joggers more focused on their power running than taking in the scenery, relatives and friends throwing shuttlecocks at each other playfully, peddlers exercising vigorously with their upper or lower limbs on the strikingly eclectic boats and grandparents (could be parents) indulging their cucus (could be children) at the many playgrounds scattered around the tranquil lake. Hmm, when people saw Papa carrying me on his comfy shoulder, did they perceive a young modern grandfather indulging/spoiling/taming his romping cucu too?

Another unmistakable vision of Taiping Lake Gardens is of course the scene of perfectly groomed young couples all dressed up in their glamorous wedding attires, posing for that obligatory wedding photos. That evening we saw a couple who came complete with hulubalangs and dayangs. Psst, in 1995, Mama and Papa also stopped by here before honeymooning in Cameron Highlands. But to an impressionable toddler like me, the most vivid sight of all at the Taiping Lake Gardens is the unbearable sight of monkeys consuming ice cream and that covetable fizzy drink enthusiastically, which Mama wouldn’t let me have a sip.
With the zoo outing out of the way, I am now harbouring the thought of dreamy Paris Disneyland and Windsor Legoland. Here are some old photos of my parents and siblings having a whale of a time at the Twycross Zoo, Disneyland Paris and Taronga Zoo.


Naz said...

Oh! I so enjoyed this entry and the beautiful pictures for I love Taiping a lot. During each trip home to Malaysia, we will fit in a night or two in Taiping.
Thanks to this post...I have dug out old pictures of holidays there and have, for the last half an hour, surfed for the tickets yet once more in the middle of the night when I really should be sleeping :D

GUiKP said...

Your love for the heritage town of Taiping is hardly surprising. The town of everlasting peace has many firsts; the gaol, golf course, museum, English school in the FMS, church, highland resort, railway etc. Making it an addict of many a visitor.

It is also a choice location for filmmakers. I dimly remember one of the Esok movies was shot here. And a perfect dreamy setting for Bollywood movies too. The eyes-fluttering babe can stretch lustily on the curvaceously chunky trunks of the rain trees or play cikucak with her Abang Romeo, hiding behind the rain tree’s ample trunk.

When you have the opportunity, please do a post on your Taiping escapade. It would be wonderful to read your experience and perspective.

And hope you are able to find the coveted tickets for the year end holidays.

Naz said...

I love the Bollywood bit..hehe!
If I'm not mistaken, it's also a great location for a Kungfu movie. Not to mention Gerak Khas and the likes.
I will try to find my pics from Taiping and write a piece on that later.

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Guikp, Taiping has always been one of Malaysian beautiful towns and especially the Lake Gardens.
Not to mention the food too, ad durians.
Best regards, Lee.

Al-Manar said...

It has been such a long time since I last visited a zoo and, not having an archive like your dad's, I cannot remember and produce evidence which zoo that was. But it is certainly not the Terengganu 'zoo' whose existence I do not know. So there I will go now even just to see the kandang,and buy keropok lekor, forI have no money and am too old to travel the world to visit another more exotic with superb restaurant and all. Aren't you lucky?

GUiKP said...

Am waiting in anticipation.

Uncle Lee
Thank you for visiting. Enjoyed reading your rendezvous with Rose at TLG, and other gojes places.

Pak Cik Hassan
I hope they retain the kandangs of the Terengganu mini zoo as one of the artefacts to remind visitors of their past follies and misjudgement.