By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
For the uninformed or rather the misinformed, next year, 2017, has been designated as Visit Perak Year 2017. If you are unaware I don’t blame you as there are no visible indicators to show that it is another year of gaiety, pomp and perhaps pageantry. There ought to be a reason but I prefer not to dwell on it as it may open a Pandora’s Box. Suffice for me to say that Visit Perak Year 2017 is just a month away.
Incidentally, Ipoh and Perak are among Lonely Planet’s list of preferred destinations for 2016 and 2017. It is indeed an honour for us, Ipohites and Perakeans, to be given such prominence by a world-renowned travel guide book. The distinction has been used by those concerned as a convenient promotional tool to attract visitors to the state. The influx of tourists, both local and foreign, bears testimony to this statement.
Although Lonely Planet did not venture beyond the obvious in describing the attributes of Ipoh and Perak, their inclusion is enough to rekindle interest in the city and the state. So with such substantive backing we should be reaping what we sow and what is needed is a little push to get us past the finish line unscathed.
Somehow in both listings Ipoh’s Old Town is mentioned. The magic of Old Town holds sway for it has provided the impetus to charm the scores of visitors that descend on Ipoh each weekend.
There is definitely more to see than just old colonial buildings and back lanes which were once homes to Chinese migrants working in the tin mines. Perak has plenty to offer other than quaint old towns and shanties. Some of these attractions are within striking distance of Ipoh and they are must-see destinations.
Gua Tempurong, Herbal Garden, Kellie’s Castle, Tanjong Tualang Tin Dredge and Kinta Nature Park are just a short distance away from downtown Ipoh. These places can be considered as value-added attractions for those who want more out of their outings. I am pretty sure maintenance and up-grading works are underway at these places to prepare them for the big day.
Ipoh Echo team conducted a cursory survey of four of the five locations and had this to report. Generally they look fine but more can be done to bring it up to a worthy standard.
The herbal garden along the Batu Gajah-Gopeng road is well maintained but its toilets are in a poor state. This will be a big letdown for visitors. Repair works are underway at the time of reporting.
Kellie’s Castle looks fine too but the minders are planning to erect more benches around the facility for the convenience of visitors. The castle’s lighting system is under repair too as some of the lights have been out for a while now.
The iconic tin dredge along the Batu Gajh – Tanjong Tualang road is still closed to the public as repairs works are underway. The pontoon supporting the dredge leaks and works to patch up the holes are underway. Repairs works are expected to complete by January 2017.
Kinta Nature Park, the former tin mining land along the Batu Gajah-Tanjong Tualang road, has much to offer to nature buffs. However, years of neglect has almost transformed it into a wasteland. Following Visit Perak Year 2012 the park witnessed a hive of activities aimed at making it into Perak’s one and only nature park rivalling the best in the country. But lethargy and inconsistency have reduced the facility to what it is today. The road leading into the park is in a state of disrepair caused by lorries carting away sand for construction purposes.
With all these shortcomings, is the state ready for another gala year come Year 2017? Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t wish to make any assumptions but like the saying goes, “seeing is believing”. You have to see things for yourself and make your own judgment.