What's wrong with Taiping?
|The mighty Land Rover Defender at Maxwell Hill|
There's certainly plenty happening in the town of eternal peace - not for the right reasons.
I was in Taiping two weeks ago and must say - for the first time in my life - I was disappointed with the Perak town.
In its eagerness to marry heritage and modernisation, it has lost its identity along the way. The town seems confused, and this is evident in the construction of new structures (mainly hotels) there.
There is a hotel being built right at the foot of Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) with several others built near the iconic Lake Gardens.
Hoteliers claim occupancy rates are high. For visitors, food is generally top on the list followed by the supposed cool weather.
But weather in the "wettest town in the country" has been ridiculously HOT while prices of food and vegetables, known in the past to be relatively cheap, have gone up.
The rapid (or rather careless) development could be behind the change in weather pattern. Locals reminisce days where it used to rain heavily in the afternoons as sweat now trickle down their backs despite the luxury of air-conditioners in their homes.
The most enjoyable thing about going up Maxwell Hill is the ride in the Land Rover Defender. That's it. Once at the midway point, visitors are left to their own devices with little information about the hill and structures there.
I'm sure there's plenty to tell about the oldest hill station in the country founded in 1884.
Cockroaches and rats roam freely at the famous Siang Malam, a turn off for those intending to enjoy their meal.
|Siang Malam - a market that never sleeps|
There must be a drive to push tourists to visit these places. Taiping must reclaim its sanity and peace by preserving heritage and history.
Development can and must take place, but has to be done intelligently. Let the centre of Taiping be trapped in time, turning it into a real-life museum. Visitors must be constantly reminded of the the town's rich history. Invest in maintaining the facade of the old structures there while the inside can be injected with modern facilities.
The hotels and other new structures should be built just outside the town. In Taiping, it takes just minutes to reach from one end to the other.
Give tourists a reason to return to Taiping. This is Visit Perak Year after all.