After having spent time in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, my mother and I decided to visit our friends in Ipoh. It was in mid-August of this year. My mother had been to Malaysia before but it was the first time for me. Upon arrival at the Medan Gopeng bus station, we were confronted with the first problem. Even though we had the address of our friend, none of the taxi drivers knew how to get there. Luckily, an English-speaking lady was kind enough to help us out.
We explored Ipoh the following day. The tourist information office gave us a small photocopied map, which obviously wasn’t good enough. Upon inquiry, a regular map was given to us. Later we found out about the Ipoh Heritage Trail. Why didn’t the tourist office inform us about this?
My mother remembered Cameron Highlands, she wanted to revisit it. Sadly, a large part of the once beautiful hill resort has been transformed into huge strawberry plantations covered with white plastic sheets. Nonetheless, we managed to catch a glimpse of some wonderful, not yet destroyed, tea plantations.
Relaxing at the beach and enjoying the sun is popular among European tourists and we were no exception. Pangkor certainly provided the aforementioned and we enjoyed being the only ones on the beach – something you cannot find in Europe. Unfortunately, many advertised tourist attractions weren’t maintained. A trail in Telok Nipah led us into the jungle and became impassable after just a hundred metres. The Jambatan Gantung was closed for maintenance although no maintenance was apparent.
The buses were reliable and comfortable but we never envisaged that getting back to Ipoh was problematic. The staff at the bus counters in Lumut was either absent or asleep. None could speak English. Very surprising as Lumut is a tourist destination. We ended up riding the local bus instead.
Our friends in Ipoh went out of their way to show us everything that Perak has to offer, including Gua Tempurung, mangrove forests, temples and the Gopeng Heritage House. We would have missed many of these sights had we travelled on our own. The local tour agencies sure missed a golden opportunity.
Notwithstanding the hiccups, we had a wonderful time in Perak – a region with a bountiful potential.