Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sam Poh Tong and Other Holes

"Other than Sam Poh Tong, Ipoh got nothing worth seeing-la."

Yee Lin's Dad

"Ipoh is a retirement city."

Inn Shan's Uncle who gave us board and room.

Accounts of just how sleepy Ipoh is from two of its natives.

Day 2 of the Great Penang Road Trip.

Day 2 started at about 7 am and we drove to the Old Town district to rendezvous with Road Trip Buddy #2; Sze Yin, Yee Lin (who was supposed to be Road Trip Buddy #4 but had already went to Penang with her Mom), and Yee Lin's Mom and Dad at what is purported to be the best dim sum shop the city of Ipoh can offer. It's called Foh San, if my memory serves - and it's only a few rows away from Lou Wong.

The goodies did not disappoint, of course, but I was still stuffed from the steamboat buffet that Inn Shan's uncle treated us to yesterday night, so I didn't manage to feed my face half as much as I would like to. But between Inn Shan and I, we were still able to scoff a tidy bit.

Yee Lin's Dad (magnanimous Ipoh man #2) picked the bill.

That sealed it; besides that one occasion when I stopped for petrol, we did not spend a single cent in Ipoh either in lodging, food or miscellaneous etceteras. Now, if we could somehow get in touch with some of our batchmates in Penang....

Straight after breakfast, we headed for the only tourist attraction of Ipoh (besides the hot girls and nga choy kai, of course); Sam Poh Tong, and the nearby limestone cave temples.

The first one we entered (name totally forgotten) had a lot of concrete sculptures in its courtyard.

Of course, I never knew that Pegasus was part of the ancient Chinese myths;

day2 - 01
An ersatz Bellerophon with the equine abomination that would probably spark an invasion on Ipoh by the Greeks once they found out about it.

... and I didn't know merpeople were either;

day2 - 03
Poor fish-people. Forced into panhandling.

But the piece de resistance of absurdity gotta be this;

day2 - 02

Let me introduce you to Yuet Lou (literally Moon Elder, or something close enough - would someone Chinese-schooled help me out here?). His job is to keep tab of all the couples in the world, and those destined to end up together. Aside the dull registrar duties, he also ties up lovers (or would-be lovers) with a red-string, thus securing their lives together. He must have botched those he tied on me. They kept getting tangled around my feet and face-planting me on the floor.

Last I checked, he don't tote around a huge heart-shaped box. I'm pretty sure this is blasphemy of the highest order.

Then we moseyed along to the next temple. I think it was called Nam Thean Tong (Blue Sky Cave?)

Apparently, fishing and swimming in temple courtyard ponds are done rather regularly;

day2 - 04
I just discovered what people in Ipoh do in their free time.

Whilst I was strolling about, a monkey bounded right across my path. Here's the bounding bounder in action;

day2 - 05

Then a whole troop of 'em began running past us as if we weren't there at all. The girls were sheltering in a nearby pavillion, freaked out of their wits. That's not something ol' fearless Kok does, of course - no sirree. I just stood there with my shit scared clear out of my colons and observed the local wildlife with the calm and objective interest of a man of science.

day2 - 07
Retirement Tarzan

The apes somehow saw this man coming and homed right at him.

Beats donating to the temple for the goodwill of the gods, if you ask me.

day2 - 06
A monkey with what appeared to be the gory remains of a starfruit.

Our last stop is the famed Sam Poh Tong (Three Treasure Cave?) Temple;

day2 - 08
Ye Olde Front Doorway.

To disguise the fact that this post is just boring travelogue and a thinly-veiled excuse to show you my vacation pictures, I shall comment a little on the history of this place, and why it is so darn popular;

The cave was discovered in 1912. It won an award for having the best landscaped ornamental garden in Malaysia in 1993. I has a pond full of tortoises in the back.

Err, that's about it.

I think people come here because it's OMGCOOL to have a temple in a limestone cave. And probably also for the tortoises (I know that was my motivation).

Presenting the best landscaped garden of '93;

day2 - 14

And here's another view from somewhere higher up. The rest didn't want to climb up with me. How unadventurous;

day2 - 12

Here's a short video clip of the fish pond where the fish kept swirling round and round in the water for no obvious reasons;

Maybe they are waiting for me to fall in. Creepy pisceans.

There's a snippet of a conversation between Yee Lin and I in it if you listen carefully. I have no idea what I mumbled at the very end of it. It sounded like a bad word but it isn't. Really. Trust me.

day2 - 09
The inner sanctum.

Via a quiet tunnel-way from the main altar hall, we accessed the inner courtyard, technically in the middle of the limestone hill complex.

It's where they keep the tortoises;

day2 - 10
Holy turtles.

I was the first in the tortoise yard because the rest were still performing their religious duties of offering incenses and genuflecting to the entire Chinese pantheon. I chalk no where near that level of piety, of course. I'm playing the tourist this trip. Not the pilgrim.

And while I was alone, I saw two monster-sized hard-shelled leviathan breaking the surface for a breath of air - and before I could whip out my camera and go all paparazzi-hound on the pair, they disappeared to the bottom of the murk again.

It was good luck, according to Yee Lin, to spot the huge ones.

Only, there was suppose to be only one huge-ass tortoise - not two.


day2 - 11

Since the cool temple hall thing in the back wasn't open, we contented ourselves by taking pictures in the courtyard. Yee Lin said that there are way more tortoise ponds inside. What a bummer.

It's suppose to bring good luck, according to Chinese traditions, to release tortoises we find (as opposed to - I don't know - eating them?) back into the wild. I think the ancients figured that releasing them into a temple must be doubly lucky or something. We orients are a superstitious lot.

day2 - 13

We left Ipoh before noontime after dropping Yee Lin off at her house, and headed for Penang!

I plan to write more in this post actually but my bladder's killing me. Gotta leave Starbucks for the loo (now I know why there aren't toilets in Starbucks outlets). I ran out of dial-up internet credits so I can't update from home. Check back in a day or two, okay?

Desperate for bladder relief,
k0k s3

Other posts of my Great Penang Road Trip series:


michellesy the hungry said...

Hmmm....I don't know about those merpeople, I really don't.

Ariel ain't got a pretty pink patch on them if you ask me. I'll be damned if they don't have awfully, awfully amorous looks plastered on their (plaster hawhawhaw) faces =P

Ah the monkeys. Yes, yes, scared shitless I twas too, indeed I was, when I encountered them little blighters.

Not in Ipoh unfortunately.

*Strangled whisper*

I've never been to Ipoh actually. Or Penang for that matter.

*Self-immolates from intense shame*

But in any case I discovered (from my one encounter with our simian kin at Bukit Raja, Kuala Selangor), tis the grey blighters you have to look out for.

Them goldy-hued ones will be perfectly civil - as long as you keep feeding them boundless amounts of overpriced soggy peanuts and diabetes-inducing sweet, sticky roti buns at RM 1 a pop.

Otherwise, O Lordy, prepare to sacrifice your glasses. Or camera. Or whichever item of clothing you can most afford to lose - caps are usually the first to go. Or tufts of hair. You get the drift.

Said items of bribery (placation?) are sold by calculating bloodsuckers, erm, vendors who have set up shop (stall?) at tourist spots for just such a purpose.


So I was a sucker. What can I say. I was also scared shitless.

Of their intense and piercing simian gaze. WTF.

Enjoyed your little narrative/ guided tour through the sights though. Bloody humourous as always =)

And for someone who always seems to be second-guessing themselves when it comes anything rendered in Mandarin, you were spot on each and every time.

So now can I call you Mr China Ah Pek? XD

ps: There's food coming up in the next post right? Not that I'm er, y'know, food-fixated or anything. But there's gonna be food right? =D

pps: Why do I never run into these philanthropic individuals you always have the good fortune to encounter?

Do you advertise in the NST or something?
Or are you simply, y'know WELL CONNECTED, Malaysian Mafioso style? =P

InnShan said...

yay! next post.
commenting on the picture with SzeYin photographing YeeLin and I...

I saw one big big tortoise too. That was when I was about 5 years old. I threw the kangkung to the centre of the pond, then a gargantuan tortoise came up. Fuiyo..

I kesian the merman oso. Begging.

Sad, at least starbuck is providing you connection.

bevE said...

The tortoises.

"It's a bird!"

"It's a plane!"

"No!! We are ignoring K0KEE!"

xD u know, im ackchally just reading im not really looking at pics -.- travel-oh-gues are so boring. =3 =P

.......? oh yea. eh? no, i forgot. xD

Dr.Vishaal Bhat said...

well the new header is fine, though i do not think you will be keeping it for long. By the way it's nice to see that you are using your holidays well...

k0k s3n w4i said...

Well, having frens in every state in Malaysia numbered amongst the privileges of studying in a mostly Malaysian university.
I never had anything taken by the furry blighters before - tho a fren of mine, on a camping trip of sorts, had his entire mini-bag of toiletries stolen. It was worth it tho, to watch the apes trying to eat his facial foam and then make faces of intense disgust. They appeared to enjoy the green tea toothpaste tho.

LOL, happens all the time.
Not to mention the merfolks were begging behind bars too.

boring, but yet you read them xD
... I didn't notice the tortoises were all looking away from me...
OMG, even tortoises shun me :(

@dr.vishaal bhat
using my hols well, as opposed to spending it studying? ;)
Well, if my in-progress header dusn't chalk up to scratch, i might just keep this one for awhile.