Friday, 25 May 2007

2 sen Friday

I'm going to write about Kuala Lipis, Pahang, in Malaysia. It used to be the capital town of Pahang for 57 years before Kuantan (the current capital).

Kuala Lipis is my father's birthplace. He was actually born in Jeransang, a hamlet along the main road to Padang Tengku, Kuala Lipis. Jeransang is, I would say one of the first signs of civilization after the long, winding, forested quiet road. One can really admire the trees-- the different types and sizes. So, one really has to focus on what little sign there is to get to Jeransang, else you miss it. I remember it being on the left at that corner where there's a wooden shop selling bottled Sunkist drinks: all lined up in stacks on one side of the wall. The shop belonged to my father's uncle. It was almost the life of the kampung -- where you would get your provision, and letters posted to and from.

We didn't visit Jeransang very often when we were growing up, spending most of our time in Kuantan, my mother's hometown. The few times that we went were when I was a teenager, to weddings. I found the accent (or is it dialect?) amusing; but now I know it's fascinating. Not many Malysians know the Pahang accent. Even when Pahangites meet, they seldom use it -- the total opposite from the Kelantanese. It is a lively, lilting, very fast moving way of talking. I myself can sometimes get it wrong. Another reason why Pahang accent is not well-known is because there are quite a few of them, being a huge state. People around Kuantan, especially in Beserah area speak mainly with Terengganu accent and dialect. In Pekan, the twang is again different: it has a royal grace to it, I would say. As you get towards the central part of the state, the most unique sound, not unpleasant to the ears would be distinctly heard. If you visit AZ Shell station in Batang kali on your way up to Genting (from North), talk to the proprietor -- he's from Pahang. But his accent is a little 'diluted'.

I went back to Kuala Lipis, in September 2006, this time with AHS, who had not been there in years. My last trip was 5 years earlier. We drove there from Kuantan on the new highway up to Temerloh and branched off to the right after the Temerloh toll gates. We followed this state road all the way. I recommend travelling to Lepeh (as we would call it) using this route and taking it easy. Stop by at any of the roadside stall for a cup of kopi kampung and you'll not be disappointed. And the people are just so friendly. If you happen to be there during fruit season, you will be simply rewarded with plenty. We passed Jerantut (a big town now!), Damak, Dong, Benta and Lepeh.

It was a Sunday, but I didn't think that the whole place would be deserted. I had wanted to show off Kuala Lipis to AHS, and share with him how the big colonial bungalows used to excite me, conjuring in my mind the events that these bungalows must have witnessed, every time I pass them by. Lipis is a very historical town. Why, Hugh Clifford is still remembered -- 'lending' his name to the school that is still perched on the hill. However, what we experienced was a real anti-climax. We wanted to get lunch so I suggested the Rest House atop Bukit Residen: disappointment again. The driveway was lined with lalang. We walked to the reception: further disappointment as it was no longer a lively place I used to know. Now it is reduced to a dark, sombre corner.

So we drove back down and took a left. The stadium looked promising, maybe Siti Norhaliza can bring in throngs of people to liven things up around here. The circular road brought us to a line of new buildings. We turned the corner to the bus station, where there should have been some kind of life: none. We had nasi goreng and stayed to have teh tarik. There were very few buses and people. I remember the eating places around the station used to be so full of activity, what with the railway station so close by. Before we left, we visited the toilets (not royal enough to say the lav) and they were clean! A relief! There was this man who cleaned the place -- almost non-stop. We then proceeded to the older section of the town where there used to be a floating hotel on the river: gone. We drove up to the main road again, turned left, and I looked up take a last look at Bukit Residen. It used to give me romantic ideas of plantation managers and their family members having their tea and play tennis there. AHS used to compete in tennis competitions there many, many years ago. (The tennis court is still there).

In the end I didn't get to show the big bungalows to AHS. I wanted to search for Siti Nurhaliza's house but AHS wouldn't hear of it.

Next time I must get my father to go with us. Even a dreary place like that would be livened up by his anecdotes. He has quite a few and most willing to share them.

Well, I haven't lost hope for this little place rich with history. I feel the local government should do more to keep Lipis. Visitors (foreign and local) do not always want to go to places with modern facilities.They want to see history and culture too.

1 comment:

D said...

it's wonderful going back to places that change with time.

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