Slideshow: Walking Around Kuala Kangsar

The Kuala Kangsar is the royal town of Perak where the Sultan of Perak officially resides (1.5 hours from Ipoh by local bus for Myr6.2). Aside from the Ubudiah Mosque and Istana Kenangan (other albums): – Kuala Kangsar Clock Tower in the middle of the town.
– Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery is still closed for renovation. – Istana Iskandariah is the Sultan’s Palace and another legacy of a British architect serving in the then Malaya. It is a massive marble structure with a series of towers, topped by golden onion domes set among trees and rolling lawns.
– Oldest rubber tree in Malaysia. The first rubber tree was planted in 1877 near the Kuala Kangsar District Office. There were nine trees planted and this was the only one which survived. The rubber seeds were brought from Kew Garden in London to Singapore, then over to the mainland to Kuala Kangsar by H.N. Ridley. He was the man responsible for turning Kuala Kangsar into the first rubber industry district in Malaysia. Soon rubber became an important source of income for the country.
– Malay College Kuala Kangsar is one of the premier schools in Malaysia. It is now a full boarding school. It was founded by 4 sultans from the Negeri-negeri Melayu Bersekutu in 1905, as result of their desire to spearhead the future of Malays. During the Japanese Occupation in World War II, the school was turned into administration offices and a hospital for the Japanese Imperial Army, who interrogated and subsequently beheaded anyone found to be a traitor. A school once again in the 1950s, it attracted a celebrated crowd – Anthony Burgess taught here. Many buildings date back to as far as 1909, such as the attractive red-roofed Big School. Another prominent feature is said to be the Big Tree, a raintree in front of the East Wing which is considered to be as old as the school itself. Known as Eton of the East, it has produced a good number of Malay leaders and politicians.
– Labu Sayong are traditional water pitchers (containers) for storing drinking water. They are a cottage industry in Kampong Sayong. Interestingly, these water containers provide natural refrigeration and the water stored are cold when kept overnight in the container.
– Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah Bridge connects the town of Kuala Kangsar to Sayong where village craftsmen produce the Labu Sayong.
– The town is known for the following food: Masak Lemak Ikan Patin (a river fish of the cat fish family) is cooked in coconut milk with herbs, spices and condimums with the formidable “cili api” (Thai pepper). Kuala Kangsar Laksa is the Laksa (the vermicelli, or “meehoon”) itself. Almost all the Laksa vendors here serve their “laksa vermicelli” freshly made. Thus, the texture is more savoring compared to the dried vermicelli which are first soaked prior to being served. Kuala Kangsar has been Perak’s royal seat since the 18th century and is one of four towns that plays a role in Perak’s complex succession system. It was the administrative seat of the first British Resident in the Malay Peninsula, James W. W. Birch, from October 1874 until he was murdered on 2 November 1875. It was the capital of Perak until 1876. Kuala Kangsar is also known in Malaysian history as the site where the first Conference of Rulers of the Federated Malay States, the Durbar, was held in 1897. By the 1890s, the growth of the tin mining towns of Ipoh and Taiping had eclipsed Kuala Kangsar, but it remains to this day one of the most attractive of the Malay royal capitals. The town is also the site of the first rubber tree planted in Malaysia. The person responsible was the English botanist Henry Nicholas Ridley. He was the one who helped Malaya and eventually Malaysia become the largest rubber producer in the world. The tree still stands today. The first Malaysian scout troop was established in Kuala Kangsar. Consequently, its squad number is 001.

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