|Perak name derives
from the rich silver, tin and ore deposits once so fruitful in the
area. Perak means ‘silver’ in the Malay language.
Main towns in Perak are Ipoh, the capital, Kuala Kangsar,
the royal town and Taiping.
Once dubbed the ‘City of Millionaires’ due to
its tin mining wealth Ipoh is Malaysia’s 3rd largest
city. It offers the ghost of its colonial days with the combination
of colonial and modern architecture with the best example of the
former is the Moorish and Victorian pastiche of the train
The city centre includes a variety of colonial era shops that maintain their
original surroundings today. The Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
in Ipoh is a must to all nature admirers. Besides the more than 160
species of birds, travellers may have a chance to see smooth otters,
long-tailed macaque and ridge-back dolphins.
The ideal time to visit is from September to December when the
migratory birds arrive at the sanctuary.
A half hour drive from Ipoh, near Batu Gajah, is the
stunning Kellie's Castle. Encircled amidst rubber trees, the
impressive ruins of the incomplete castle are all that remains
of Scotsman William Kellie Smith's ambition to restore an
authentic piece of his Scottish homeland. Work stopped with the
sudden death of Smith in 1926, and since his death the mystique
encircling the castle have intensified. Reputed to be haunted,
the castle is said to possess secret tunnels and rooms.
Perak Tong, a limestone cave temple, north of Ipoh at Jalan Kuala Kangsar, features over 40 statues of Buddha. 385 steps in
a cave behind the main altar leads up to a viewpoint where visitors can
explore the nearby countryside. Close to Gunung Rapat are the cave temples, Sam Poh Tong and Kek
Lok Tong, where statues
of Buddha are placed alongside magical stalactites and rock formations.
They both provide Buddhist vegetarian restaurants.
Kuala Kangsar is famous for being the birthplace of the rubber industry.
In 1877, 9 rubber trees were planted here and the industry was
started. 3 of the town's most pleasant buildings are the
royal palace Istana Iskandariah, Istana Kenangan,
the former royal palace which is currently home to the Perek State Museum
and the Ubudiah Mosque.
Known as the ‘Town of Everlasting Peace’, Taiping
gained fame as a raffish tin mining centre. The industry has slowed down
since a key slump in the 1980s. Some of the money from the tin
mining was pumped into Taiping’s major tourist site. In the late 19th century, the disused
mining pools were replaced by the amazing and beautifully landscaped Lake Gardens.
Taiping represents colonial architecture and
is home to the delightful Ling Nam Temple, which has been said to be the oldest
Chinese temple in Perak. The more sinister history of Taiping
can be found in the old prison, used by the Japanese in World
War II, and the Allied War Cemetery, the burial place of a huge number
of victims of the Japanese invaders.
Over recent years Pangkor Island has grown in popularity. This
has brought better facilities at the expense of increasing crowds
and development of the pristine environment. Pangkor Island is about
100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Penang.
Since 1996, flights to the island have eased access for visitors.
Great sandy beaches and all kinds of water sports can be found