Monday, April 30, 2012


One of many massive, beautiful trees to climb in Taiping
Before we got sucked any further into Georgetown (again), we left for the Cameron Highlands. On the way, we spent one night in Taiping, which is a smaller city about 60 miles south of Penang, with a beautiful park and zoo. The Lake Gardens Park was developed on an old tin mine in the late 19th century and has a series of ponds, massive, moss covered trees, and all sorts of gorgeous plants and birds. Walking paths wind through the park, with gazebos and park benches placed along the way, making it a really pretty place to stroll. The Taiping Zoo is adjacent to the park and is our reason for stopping in Taiping. At 8:00pm, they reopen the zoo for the Night Safari, with a select few lights on which simulate the light from a full moon so you can see the nocturnal animals when they're up and about and to see what the rest of the animals do at night.

The Lake Gardens in Taiping
We arrived in the early afternoon, found our way to the old Peking Hotel, checked in, and then walked out to get some lunch. We ate at Bismillah, a small restaurant which has been in operation in the same spot for nearly a hundred years making some of the best chicken biryani imaginable. After lunch, we walked to the Lake Gardens for a stroll among the greenery. Taiping is reputedly the wettest place in Malaysia (it's not a question if it will rain, rather when during the day it will rain, and there's some sort of “rain gambling” scheme among the locals) and all the plant life in town is lush and large. As we walked, the sky grew darker and darker. Unfortunately, we realized that we neglected to bring our rain jackets, so when the rain began falling, we decided to take to one of the many gazebos to wait it out. It started as a light shower, but soon, the rain came down hard. We watched as the lakes seemed to expand in size, and many of the birds hunkered down in the grass, with the exception of a vivid blue kingfisher on the hunt that kept swooping from a nearby tree to the wet ground and back. We sat and waited for about an hour for the rain to taper off to a sprinkle, talking more about the possibilities for life post-trip. When the rain finally stopped, we walked the mile back to the Peking and dried off.

Beautiful kingfisher
Before we went out again, we made sure to put our rain jackets in the bag. Later on, we went out for a banana leaf dinner at Chetty Nad, where we had an excellent meal on our last visit. This time, it was good, but not anywhere near the spectacular one we had before. And they overcharged us. Disappointing. By the time we were finished with dinner, it was nearly 8:00pm, so we started our amble to the zoo. We got there, paid our entry fee, and followed the paths through the zoo. It was actually a lot of fun, since we had an opportunity to see many of the animals that are usually snoozing during the day out and about. The tigers were all out roaring, the lionesses were playing hide and seek, the owls were wide awake, and the general effect was kind of spooky. The bad news was, the rain returned when we were abut three-quarters of the way through. The good news was, we brought our rain jackets with us this time. The rain wasn't so heavy that it stopped us from finishing the tour, but we were a bit damp by the time we made it back to the hotel at 11:00 pm.

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