Sunday, December 16, 2007

episode III: taking the wrong bus and visiting kellie!!!

So after we checked out from our Ipoh hotel, we had lunch at the many coffee shops nearby our hotel. Hanson remembered that Aunty had said something about this particular coffee shop called Nam Kew so we decided to have our lunch there.

I had chicken rice which tasted nice, or maybe because I was really hungry. It is also quite cheap. One plate costs RM2.50 but mine was char siew with chicken so it costs RM3.30, which I think is still slightly cheaper than KL's.

After lunch, we had to catch a bus to Medan Kidd for our bus to Batu Gajah. One thing about buses in Ipoh, they stopped anywhere just to get passengers (maybe because they don't have many?) So all we had to do was to stand right outside the coffee shop and flag down a bus. Voila! The bus just stopped right in front of the coffee shop for us, which is good because that means we don't have to walk far looking for a bus stop:)

Many many coffee shops around - no worries about food there!

As we walked around the streets of Ipoh, I noticed a lot of bridal shops. Hmm, did we stayed at the bridal or wedding district zone or something?

We board a bus to Medan Kidd, the smaller bus terminal

Destination#2: Ipoh --> Batu Gajah

Once at Medan Kidd, we looked around for signs at the counters saying "Batu Gajah"

This is how Medan Kidd looks like. See the old-fashioned buses?

We found the platform for Batu Gajah buses and waited for one to arrive

Our bus to Batu Gajah

Next we come!

We had so many bags we had to occupy two extra seats - luckily there were not many people in the bus

Inside was old but they had air-con:)

We passed by another well-known school - ACS with pre-war architecture design

During the whole journey, the boys were cam-whoring at the back of the bus

During the whole journey from Ipoh to Batu Gajah, I was sms-ing BB, who lives in Batu Gajah and told her we were planning to visit Kellie's Castle. She told me that we had took the wrong bus! Eventhough Kellie's Castle is in Batu Gajah but the buses from Ipoh to Batu Gajah do not passed by Kellie's Castle. Instead, we should have taken the bus to Gopeng from Medan Kidd.

So, the bus driver, knowing we were not locals, was supposed to tell us where to stop but he forgot and overshort our stop!!!

Batu Gajah town

So, when we got down, the 4 of us were completely lost and did not know which direction to go. We walked in the reverse of the direction that the bus that dropped us was going since he said that he missed our stop. Then we saw a signboard that said Kellie's Castle and we followed it, not knowing where it will lead us. When WY went to the ATM machine, I asked the people in the bank but they all seemed clueless as to which direction we should go. For the first time, I was really freaked out and confused.
But finally, two ladies from a shop told us that there was a bus stop on the other side of some shophouses so we walked in that direction. When we found a bus stop, a few kind elderly ladies told us what buses we should take to Kellie's Castle.
Getting lost and then waiting for our bus to Gopeng at the bus stop

Tourist Spot#4: Kellie's Castle

Finally, after waiting for about half an hour, we saw the bus we needed to take. A short while later, he dropped us at the side of a highway! Yup, that is the bus stop for Kellie's castle. We crossed the highway to Kellie's Castle. It was way in the outskirts, with not a sight of any houses or town around.
Tickets cost Rm3.00 for students and Rm4.00 for non-students. I used my VI student card, which has amazing use! LOL. Student cards do give one a lot of privilleges. Hanson said he will used his till he becomes 5o years old, with all the discounts and all.

The man at the counter was nice to let us keep our bags at the counter since it was troublesome to carry our luggages as we venture to Kellie's Castle.
Entrance fee is RM3 per student
We finally reached Kellie's Castle!
Does it look a little eerie to you?

Website view/info: William Kellie Smith, born in Dallas, North-Eastern Scotland to a farmer and his wife on 1st of March, 1870. At the tender age of 20, he traveled to Malaya to seek for his fortune.

Followed by his success in rubber plantation, the Smith brought over his family to stay at his first mansion in Malaya, Kellas House which was built in 1905 as symbol of his prospering rubber estate venture.
"Huang ying guang lin"

Later in 1915 with the birth of a son and heir, Smith decided to build the Kellie's Castle (just in front of the Kellas House). It is believed to be a gift for his wife or for the birth of his son - Anthony.
As a joke, we girls' locked the guys inside a dark room but bah! they were not scared at all! Ceh!

For the construction, 70 tough workers, mostly from Madras, were employed. Bricks and marble were imported from India. But the construction work was not smooth, a mysterious illness (Spanish Flu) broke out and killed many of the workers. The superstitious Smith was told that a temple must be built to appease the gods. He immediately transferred his workers to build a Hindu temple nearby, and there is an underground tunnel lying beneath the castle to the temple.
Inside the very dark wine cellar, which looks eerily like a mortuary
The ruins

This tunnel was discovered accidently during a road widening exercise at the 6th Kilometre stretch of the Gopeng-Batu Gajah road in 2003. An excavator broke through the timber structure and revealed a section of a tunnel. The passageway is about 1.5m height and 1m wide. The tunnel is believed to go under the river and connects the castle to the Hindu temple.
I like this pic - reminds me of the Coliseum in Rome
This tragedy did not stop the construction of the castle. But the sudden death of Smith on a visit to Lisbon in 1926 had made a halt to it. He died of pneumonia. His wife, Agnes, with a broken heart made the decision to sell out all of the Smith's properties in Malaya and moved back to Scotland
Wai Yin holding out the pamphlet they gave us at the entrance to KC
Group pic! Damn, I am the shortest and the fattest!:(
I like both these pics although Hanson's pose looks a little sissy-like

There have been many myths or legends or rumours spreading around about the mysterious castle. Some say that Smith's spirit still wanders inside the castle, especially along the corridors, guarding his great mansion. And that's why much of the structure still remain intact after so many years.
The mysterious corridor

Some say there are lots of "spirits" wandering around the castle since workers died during the construction and also people who died during the 2nd world war.
All the steps were really narrow. I almost fell down!

It is believed that there are 4 underground tunnels. One is connecting the castle to the Hindu temple 500m in the west, one is connecting to the main gate garage in the south and one is connecting to the road in the east. How about the last one? It's still undiscovered. There are rumours about this secret tunnel that it had been used as an execution hub of the Japanese army in World War II. And some say it was the secret tunnel being used by Chen Ping (the famous communist leader in Malaya) in between 50s to 60s.
This room belongs to Kellie's daughter, Helen. See the blue plaster ceiling? It is said that the spirit of Helen still haunts the castle, wearing a white blouse, with curly hair and is about 6 years old.
This is Kellie's son, Anthony's room
After all these years faded into memory, the castle has been reconditioned to serve as a visitor spot. It's just about 20 minits drive from Ipoh. I've been to Kellie's Castle twice but never went down to the tunnel. It's too narrow and dark, um... and creepy! Anyway, just as a reminder, don't forget to look for the information tag on the walls. Source:
Haha..I like this pose...Like pilots!
Lonesome guy pose?
Noticed these weird plant things hanging from a tree
See the two crows? Does it not remind one of all those haunted castle creepy ghost stories?
The lift shaft
We reached right at the very top of Kellie's castle - his proposed Rooftop Party Area
Down down down down the lift shaft - scary looking down

My view: I really like this place a lot. Maybe because I am always fascinated by historical objects. But I do think that this place is a little TOO commercialised. All those information signs on the walls - are they for real? Or just created to attract tourists? A must-visit but not more than once because it can get a tad too boring.
View from the top
Perak flag and Malaysia flag
Within walking distance from Kellie's Castle ruins, one can see this unique tree. It looks like a rabbit has been carved into its trunk. We would not have noticed it if Wai Yin had not seen a newspaper clipping about it at the entrance.
This is how our bus stop looks like

The buses that passed through Kellie's Castle comes once every hour and the last bus is at 6pm, that is what the guy at the counter told us. So about 4.50 pm, we walked to the "bus stop" and whaddya know? The bus came at 4.55 pm! Really punctual!!! Why can't all buses in KL be like that?
Our journey from Ipoh to Kellie's Castle

So, from Kellie's Castle, we took a bus to Gopeng. When we reached Gopeng Bus Station, we looked at the notices for buses to Kampar but just 5 minutes in, we saw a bus heading to Kampar going inside the bus station! What sheer luck!!! We quickly board the bus and headed to our next destination - Kampar.


P.S. I have been blogging 24/7 about my trip to Perak because I am leaving for Melaka on Tuesday and I want to blog as soon as possible about my Perak trip while the memory is still fresh!

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