Category Archives: Perak

A Labour of Love, Kellie’s Castle

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Kellie’s Castle. Also known as Kellie’s Folly. A labour of labour of one William Kellie Smith. (@ all rights reserved)

Kellie’s Castle, which is sometimes known as Kellie’s Folly, is located in Batu Gajah, Perak.

Easily visible from the main road, it is essentially a mansion and was, more likely than not, a labour of love of one William Kellie Smith (1870-1926), a Scot by descent and a planter by occupation.

The mansion was never finished, owing more, it is said, to the sudden death of William Kellie Smith, in 1926, of pneumonia when on a business trip to Portugal.

William Kellie Smith (1870-1926) @ all rights reserved

And upon his death, his wife, who was then in Malaya, decided to pack up and return to Britain with both their son and daughter, never to return.

The man whose name it is given to the castle, William Kellie Smith, was born in Kellas, Moray Firth, Scotland.

At a young age of 20, he made his way to the then colonial Malaya in 1890, to work as a civil engineer.

He, however, made his money from a business venture with another Briton, clearing about 9000 hectares of forest in Batu Gajah.

Kellie’s Castle, as seen from across the stream separating it from the main road. (@ all rights reserved)

With his share of the profits, he bought for himself 1000 acres of jungle, cleared it and started planting rubber trees.

In addition, his business venture also included tin mining, from which he then went on to own the Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company.

With his fortune made, he returned to Scotland and married his sweetheart, Agnes. After their marriage, he then brought his young bride, Agnes, with him to Malaya in 1903, and in the following year, their daughter, Helen, was born.

The corridors of the unfinished Kellie’s Castle. Sighting of the ole’man himself have been reported, pacing the corridors of his beloved castle. (@ all rights reserved)

By all accounts, he was a successful businessman. In 1915, a further addition to his family, his son, Anthony, was born.

It was then that he decided to embark on building Kellie’s Castle.

It was a grandiose plan, Kellie’s Castle. The design had Scottish, Moorish and Tamilvanan Indian influences and for the purpose of building his castle, he brought in 70 craftsmen as well as building materials from India.

So grand was the design that it included what would have been the first elevator in the then Malaya, a watch tower, indoor tennis court as well as a rooftop courtyard for entertaining guests.

The stairways of the castle. Sightings too have been reported. (@ all rights reserved)

Apparently, it seemed that construction of the castle was not smooth sailing.

It was reported to be disrupted several times, with issues with finance and also when a virulent strain of Spanish flu struck his workmen.

The latter was so disruptive that when his Indian craftsmen approached him to have a temple built as a means to seek the good graces and intervention of the gods to help ward off the disease, he readily agreed and funded the construction of the temple himself.

The rooftop courtyard, included in the design, to entertain guests. (@ all rights reserved)

In recognition of his deed, his workmen included his statue amongst the pantheon of deities placed on the wall of the temple, of which the statue can be seen still, to this day.

With the passing of William Kellie Smith in 1926 and the return of his wife, Agnes, with their daughter Helen and son Anthony to Scotland, work on the castle came to a halt.

A pity really, cos looking at what’s left of Kellie’s Castle today, it would have been a grand sight should it have been completed. Really a pity.

The designated living room. (@ all rights reserved)

When touring the ruins of Kellie’s Castle and reading the informative plaques placed strategically amongst the ruins that is Kellie’s Castle, one cannot shake off the spooky and uneasy feeling of being watched even in the heat of day.

And no wonder. Over the years, Kellie’s Castle has gained a reputation of being haunted with sightings of the man himself been reported, walking the corridors of the castle as well as at strategic locations of the ruins.

The alcove at the designated prayer room. (@ all rights reserved)

The grounds of the castle itself is quite expansive and complements the castle.

And as earlier mentioned, had the construction of the castle be completed, it would have made for a grand sight.

A really grand sight. But as fate would have it, it was not meant to be.

The Tower of Kellie’s Castle (@ all rights reserved)

Today, Kellie’s Castle is maintained as a tourist attraction, primarily for what it could have been ie a fine stately home, built sometime in the colonial era.

Not only is it maintained as a tourist attraction, it has also been used as a setting for movies like Anna & The King (1999) and Skyline Cruisers (2000).

But it also has an added attraction and it is one that not many people will talk about BUT privately acknowledge. It has been claimed, as earlier mentioned, that the castle is haunted, with the man himself seen to be walking down the corridors of the castle.

Informative plaques placed strategically around the castle. (@ all rights reserved)

It may be true and it may not be true, but if you can feel the hairs down your spine standing up, even in broad daylight, then there may be some truth in it.

But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Visit Kellie’s Castle yourself, tour the ruins and walk down the corridors of the castle and you decide.

As for us, it will probably be quite a while before we made another visit to Kellie’s Castle. If ever.

 

Date : 6 July 2017

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Discovering Cameron Highlands : Lata Iskandar Revisited

The cascading waterfalls of Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)

Lata Iskandar is not really a town. To describe it as such would not do justice to the word.

A settlement perhaps? Maybe, if you could call a few shops selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs either side of the narrow road that.

The cool waters of Lata Iskandar. A dip of the toe into the cold rushing water will definitely jolt you back to life. (@ all rights reserved)

But nevertheless, whatever you may call it, from the moment I first laid my eyes on the cascading waterfalls of Lata Iskandar, I was captivated.

Something about the image in front of my eyes, the sight of water cascading down a face of solid rock, tug at the heartstrings, making you slowly melt, just like the cascading waters slowly smoothening the rough edges of the rocks.

The X factor, some might say.

Lata Iskandar – cool and serene. (@ all rights reserved)

The feel of cold water stinging the tip of your toes when you dip your feet in the pool brings you back to reality fast, but not so much as a splash or splashes of cold mountain water to your face. To say its ice-cold would not be far off. Bbbrrrrrrrrr!!!

After a few splashes, you feel the pores of your face closing up and your skin tightens up with the crevices on your face all but disappear, making you feel young and new again.

Make a pit stop and stretch those legs in the cool air of Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)

The air is fresh and crisp especially when you get closer and closer to the cascading waters of Lata Iskandar. A lungful of clean and fresh air feels odd at first, so long having had not-so-clean air in them lungs.

But after a few deep breaths, it feels good. Really good.

It’s not so often that you come across images that captivates and triggers your imagination, so much so that you just have to reach for either your camera or your mobile phone and snap away.

Shop selling trinkets, souvenirs and products of the forest. (@ all rights reserved)

In the process, you pretend that you are one of them world-famous photographers, in a quest to capture that one moment frozen in time when all that’s in play just happen to be at the right place at the right time. Magic that!

And when faced with that one moment, frozen in time and all laid in front of you, just for you to snap away, you do feel as if you are as good as them professional photographers.

Forest products on sale. These products are normally used for medicinal purposes. (@ all rights reserved)

It warms your heart to see the results of your efforts and though you know deep in your heart that you can never compete with them pros, the images that you captured are good enough. For the moment, that is.

Lata Iskandar
Lata Iskandar – a pit stop not to be missed. The natural beauty of Lata Iskandar with the sounds of water rushing downhill in the background, amidst the cool air of Lata Iskandar is a sight to take in and enjoyed. (@ all rights reserved)

After all, every picture tells its own story, and YOUR picture tells the world YOUR story.

I do not know when I will pass this way again. Maybe never.

But for one thing for sure, the memories of Lata Iskandar and its cascading waterfalls will always be there.

And fond memories they will be.

 

Date : 1 June 2017

Taman Eko-Rimba Lata Kinjang

Welcome to Lata Kinjang
Welcome to Taman Eko Rimba Lata Kinjang, a small but quaint eco park, not far from the town of Tapah. (@ all rights reserved)

Welcome to Taman Eko-Rimba Lata Kinjang (Lata Kinjang Eco Park), a small and quaint little park with a cascading waterfall to complete the ambience, located within the vicinity of the small and quiet town of Tapah.

Origin of The Name
The signboard in Bahasa Malaysia, narrating the origin of the name Lata Kinjang. As suspected, it all came from the British who mispronounced ‘Kijang’, a member of the deer family, as ‘Kinjang’. (@ all rights reserved)

Yes, the very same town of Tapah that my wife and I were heading to when we decided to traversed the Banjaran Titiwangsa (Titiwangsa Range) and along the way, came across the beautiful and cool cascading waterfalls of Lata Iskandar.

Taman Eko Rimba Lata Kinjang
The sight that greets you when you make your way towards the sound of water cascading down together, intersparse with the sound of visitors frolicking in the cold water. (@ all rights reserved)
Squeals and Laughter
Squeals and laughter amidst the sound of cascading water makes for an infectious and joyous scene. (@ all rights reserved)
Cascading Waters
Nothing beats the feel of cold water beating down your backs on a hot and sticky afternoon. (@ all rights reserved)

As at Lata Iskandar, the water is cold, the view captivating, the air is fresh, the rush of water mesmerizing and the sounds of people enjoying themselves whilst shrivelling in the cold waters of Lata Kinjang, infectious.

The Waterfall of Lata Iskandar
Cascading waters of the waterfall at Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)
Mesmerizing Water
The mesmerizing rush of water, smoothing all that stands in its way. (@ all rights reserved)
Mesmerizing Water (2)
Mesmerizing! (@ all rights reserved)
Rush of Water (2)
The rush of water making its way downstream. (@ all rights reserved)
Waters of Lata Kinjang (3)
The cascading waters of Lata Kinjang. (@ all rights reserved)
View of Lata Kinjang (2)
The impressionable view of Lata Kinjang, as you make your departure. (@ all rights reserved)

We admitted that we took a gamble when we decided to make the visit to Lata Kinjang, not knowing what to expect when we finally get there.

But it was worth the visit, as the sight of water cascading down the hills and rushing downstream is by itself, mesmerizing and beautiful to behold, prompting even the most amateur of photographers to take snapshots of the scenery at site.

Even if it was with the use of a camera phone.

Word from my Perak friends, there are more of the same in the neighbourhood. If only they could give me the list of places to visit, as they promised.

 

Date : 9 March 2017

 

Lata Iskandar

Lata Iskandar. Have seen the name many a times on the signboards as I head up north along the North South Expressway (NSE) and approaching Tapah.

Traversing the Banjaran Titiwangsa (Titiwangsa Range) on our way to Alor Star in Kedah, my wife and I came across this beautiful waterfall, with the waters cascading down as if in a rush, in the cool of the highlands.

Water was cold, air was fresh and the sights soothing and captivating. A pit stop to stretch our legs and take in the cool air, a relief from the stress of navigating a route never taken before.

Welcome to Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)
Welcome to Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)
Approaching Lata Iskandar (@ all rights reserved)
Approaching Lata Iskandar (@ all rights reserved)
Lata Iskandar – a pit stop not to be missed. The natural beauty of Lata Iskandar with the sounds of water rushing downhill in the background, amidst the cool air of Lata Iskandar is a sight to take in and enjoyed. (@ all rights reserved)
A view of Lata Iskandar (@ all rights reserved)
A view of Lata Iskandar (@ all rights reserved)
Make a pit stop and stretch those legs in the cool air of Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)
The COLD waters of Lata Iskandar. A dip of your feet will release all that weariness, once you can feel your legs again. (@ all rights reserved)
A souvenir shop at Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)

Plan to come back here again, if its just to take in the cool air and the sights.

And maybe to try out that little coffee shop that we noticed as we made our way down to Tapah. Hot coffee in the cool of the highlands?

Definitely worth a try.

 

Date : 24 December 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Off The Beaten Track – The Titiwangsa Range and Lata Iskandar

The Lake Gardens of Raub (@ all rights reserved)
The Lake Gardens of Raub (@ all rights reserved)

It’s not often that I would venture off the beaten track. My wife does it more often than I do. Between she and I, I think she’s more adventurous than I am.

But once in a while, I do get that itch to do just that – get off the beaten track and see what is there on offer.

As it happens, we were in this old gold mining town in Pahang called Raub.

The thing was that, we had to be in Alor Star (or Aloq Staq, in Kedah slang) by nightfall and the usual route would require us to get back to Kuala Lumpur and from there, get on the North South Expressway and make our way to Aloq Staq.

All in all an 8-9 hours journey. IF we are lucky.

The scenery changed from that of plantations, of rubber trees, of oil palms to that of the natural jungle, in all its majesty.
The scenery changed from that of plantations, of rubber trees, of oil palms to that of the natural jungle, in all its majesty. (@ all rights reserved)

Having discussed our options, we decided to take the route that we have heard of but never ever travelled on – from Raub to Kuala Lipis and onwards towards Cameron Highlands and joining the North South Expressway (NSE) at Tapah.

That would cut our travelling time by a good few hours or so.

At that time, I did not realise that the route that we were going to take essentially meant that we would be traversing the Titiwangsa Range, the range of highlands that formed the backbone of the Peninsular Malaysia, and nor did my wife deemed it necessary to tell me that.

As we drove past rustic laid back villages, we took it all in – the scenery, the greenery and the sights of houses dotting the road sides.

It was not long before the scenery changed from neat and orderly planted trees to what seemed totally haphazard, as we make our way up gradual inclines along those wide winding roads.

Dotting the Titiwangsa, ensuring power is distributed throughout the country. (@all rights reserved)
Dotting the Titiwangsa, ensuring power is distributed throughout the country. (@all rights reserved)

We saw the power grids that dotted the view and I wondered what feats of engineering and logistics it took to get those power grids up and running.

Seeing those power grids in the middle of the thick and dense jungle, in between highlands, and what other obstacles that I could not even imagine, it makes for an awesome sight.

It was not long before we saw civilization again. This time, the vegetable and flower farms of Bertam Valley (I think).

Vegetable farms can be seen almost on every piece of land available in Bertam Valley. (@ all rights reserved)
Vegetable farms can be seen almost on every piece of land available in Bertam Valley. (@ all rights reserved)

There was not one single slope that was free from this kind of farming.  And to think, there was a muddy landslide a few months back which took the lives of several people there. I guess, the money they were making must be too good for them to give it up.

From the covered slopes of Bertam Valley to the small town of Ringlet next. This may be a small town by Malaysian standards but it was buzzing. We wanted to stop and have a coffee and a meal but as we had a schedule to keep, and so onwards it was.

Rows of petai plucked from the jungle, better than the ones obtained near the fringes of the jungle. (@ all rights reserved)
Rows of ‘petai’ plucked from the jungle, better than the ones obtained near the fringes of the jungle. (@ all rights reserved)

The air had turned cold by this time which tells us we were way up in the highlands.

We saw villages of the local Orang Asli or the Indigenous people, and we stopped by one of them.

Why you might ask did we stopped here and not at Ringlet? It was the petai, I tell you. My wife saw the petai and she told me to stop.

And as I came to learn, petai sourced from the jungle is far better than the petai you source from the fringes of the jungle. And more difficult to come across.

And so we stopped, bought some petai and engaged in a little conversation with the local folks. The wealth of information these people have makes for an interesting conversation. Bidding adieu, we continued on and it was not long before we came across Lata Iskandar.

Lata Iskandar - a pitstop not to be missed. The natural beauty of Lata Iskandar with the sounds of water rushing downhill in the background, amidst the cool air of Lata Iskandar is a sight to take in and enjoyed. (@ all rights reserved)
Lata Iskandar – a pit stop not to be missed. The natural beauty of Lata Iskandar with the sounds of water rushing downhill in the background, amidst the cool air of Lata Iskandar is a sight to take in and enjoyed. (@ all rights reserved)

Lata Iskandar was a sight to behold.  In the cool air of the highlands was this ‘waterfall’, the sight of water rushing down the slopes utterly mesmerizing and just simply puts you totally at ease.

Parking is a problem here though. If you wrongly park your car, you will be blocking traffic and from what we witnessed, it could get very embarrassing should your car be the cause of all that honking.

So far Lata Iskandar has not lost that charm of a small settlement nestled up in the cool air of the highlands yet.

Make a pitstop and stretch those legs in the cool air of Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)
Make a pit stop and stretch those legs in the cool air of Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)

Because, mind you, tourism does have its drawbacks eg cleanliness being compromised, traffic and sound pollution, carbon emissions etc etc. But so far, touch wood, commercialism has not caught on yet in this part of the woods.

With Lata Iskandar, it meant that we were near to the Tapah gate on the North South Expressway (NSE). And true enough, we joined the NSE soon enough and it was not long after that we arrived in Aloq Staq, a good few hours ahead of time had we gone with the traditional route.

The COLD waters of Lata Iskandar. A dip of your feet will release all that weariness, once you can feel your legs again. (@ all rights reserved)
The COLD waters of Lata Iskandar. (@ all rights reserved)

To go off the beaten track and traverse the Titiwangsa Range, sight the vegetable and flower farms of the Bertam Valley, witness the hustle and bustle of that small town of Ringlet, enjoy the mesmerizing sight that is Lata Iskandar, all that made up for a very memorable drive off the beaten track. Makes me wonder though, when is the next one? As is, when is?

By the way, the petai WAS as good as they say it would be !!!!!

 

Date : 16 December 2016