Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CAPTURE 8 : Pengkalan Hulu

Baling town, another small town before Pengkalan Hulu

The magisterial view along the way to Pengkalan Hulu
Have always loved this scene along the way to Pengkalan Hulu

Primary School - I studied here from 1972 - 1977. Landscape has changed a lot.

Used to be the main office
This school is located within Baling District in the state of Kedah.

The road leading to Pengkalan Hulu

Entering Padang Tamat - a small village before the town
Approaching the town
Amidst the hills, is the small quaint and rustic town Pengkalan Hulu; formerly known as Kroh, it is located in northern Perak, Malaysia, bordering Thailand and also the state of Kedah. The weather is a blend of moderate climates.

Pengkalan Hulu, at a glance it is just a small town...a stopover town
Only the  combination of two rows of wooden and brick shophouses form the main part of the town

View from the opposite direction
Yonder amidst the misty hills, is the quaint and rustic little country town of Pengkalan Hulu; formerly known as Kroh; it is located in northern Perak, Malaysia, bordering Thailand and also the state of Kedah. This town and few other towns in Malaysia is well known for frequent curfews, imposed to counter armed insurgency by the notorious communist insurgents from late 60's till late 80's . As a kid, I eagerly anticipated that moment, because curfew means no school.  Later, in the mid 70's till late 80's curfew period was shortened and imposed only from 10:00pm to 5:00am. And, 90's saw the complete removal of curfew, and people are free to travel without much worries.
The Esplanade
The route I frequently use to visit my friends
Outskirt.....appears quiet and lonely

Last Saturday, I visited Pengkalan Hulu, my hometown,  the place that planted in me many memorable and wonderful part of nature’s diverse beauty. As I pressed the accelerator of my car, my thoughts were dashing rapidly. The heartbeats went out of rhythm. I missed that place so much, that every moment I think of that little town, feelings of being in an ancient land began to pour downright into my being. It used to be a town where residents meet people they know wherever they go. There are people who have generations of family rooted here.
Still the same after so many years
Same old view
Heading to the town
We LOVE Malaysia...a single welcoming flag
Life is simple..prayers are simple...everything simple

Now, developments have resulted in the influx of foreign workers and newcomers who were not born and bred here. The society here comprised of government servants mainly armed personnel, farmers, plantation workers, miners, small time traders and a small number of business owners. Life in this quaint town is still the same as it was when I left the town more than twenty years ago. A simple life with no big city’s glaring and blaring. The developments have resulted in minor changes to the landscape and town’s topography. Apart from that, I didn’t notice any drastic development. It remains a town with two long rows of shop houses.  For many people, it is just an insignificant small town associated with violence during the communist insurgency; for some, there is perhaps some historical significance related to Thailand, as it is a border town. Others may just ignore or care less to harness the beauty and pleasantness imparted by her. Though the Communists Party of Malaya had laid down their armed fighting in 1989 after signing an accord with the Government of Malaysia, like most small towns, Pengkalan Hulu, is embracing modernization at a very slow pace, though development is emerging all around. The lifestyles remain almost the same. It is a very small town, which not many travelers cared to remember or list down in their journal. Though strategically located, its economic significance not optimized to the maximum.  Perhaps it is a boon for some that no rapid developments take place here, which might bring along unwanted elements associated with development, but it deprive many hundreds of jobs  and other opportunities that come along with that. Lack of development narrows the scope of job opportunities, thus many people who don’t fit into any of the categories mentioned above are working in either construction areas or mining activities.
The District Office
The Information Department
My Alma Mater 1978 - 1982.
It is a stopover town for those traveling from West Coast to the East Coast and also to Betong in  Thailand. For me it carries pages of wonderful stories. The skies across is a blessed firmament and the hills filled with virgin forests stretch miles and miles concealing within it various animals, birds and insects that render glorious cacophony of natural sounds. The hills and trees capture the essence of the town’s parameter. The tranquil atmosphere fenced by greeneries provides a soothing spiritual vibration. One, whose heart is engrossed with nature, surely will cherish the experience being in this town, even if it is only for a few hours. The natural lake known as Taman Tasik or Takong and the hot water spring located a few kilometers away are among the main attractions in this town.
The lake - Taman Tasik/Takong - I wonder if it is being maintained.
Floating Restaurant by the Lake, I used to frequent then.
Lake Garden
Nature is my preceptor -  I spent a lot of time under this tree.
Government Rest House by the Lake

I do have my share of bitter memories while living there, but all that were overwhelmed by the sweetest and fondest memories that I had truly lived and enjoyed. Experience and being one with whatever one like or love gives one the inexpressible joy associated with it, and that depends too on the mind of the beholder. I am writing this because it gives me the joy of attempting to express the inexpressible feelings. It maybe far from money and fame, but not without subtlety of its virgin smile which is well preserved in my mind's reservoir. 

I walked along this path to school. Then it was an unmade road.

I was there only for a brief moment, thus prevented me from taking more pictures of the surrounding area . Perhaps next time I will do some posting on interesting places in Pengkalan Hulu. 

Some old stalls from late 60's

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Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

The mountain behind in the first photo looks so beautiful!

And thank you for your visit to my blog.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post.. I enjoyed hearing about and seeing your hometown.. My hometown is similar --being a small town with no nearby city. I have great memories of my hometown also.

They must have taught you well since you are a great writer...I enjoyed seeing all of the pictures --especially the surrounding mountains... I love seeing fog on the mountains... Great pictures.

Thanks for coming to my blog. Come back anytime.

kenju said...

I enjoyed seeing your photos very much! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Babli said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I have prepared chatpata roti with atta/wheat flour.
I appreciate for your wonderful post. All the pictures are very beautiful and you have described very nicely.

Jeevan said...

It was like an experience viewing your post and pictures.

Pengkalan Hulu resembles my dream of living in a tranquil and nature bound place. Glad I check this post to know a beautiful place situated amid hills and mist in Malaysia.
I would sit at that bench for days observing the nature clinging at sight.

SandyCarlson said...

Your world is very beautiful and warm. Thanks for this perspective.

Lorraine said...

Wow it's like travelling to another country, love your photos :)

SandyCarlson said...

An incredibly beautiful place!

Chandrika Shubham said...

I liked the second pic very much. :)
Memories of interesting journey. :)

Barbara said...

How lovely to be taken on such a varied, interesting and informative tour. Loved it. 'Aunt Barbara' I take that as a warm compliment.

sonia a. mascaro said...

I enjoyed very much seeing your country photos! So beautiful!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

sm said...

beautiful pics
like narration

Evelyn said...

Wow, great to walk down memory lane. I'd love to go around sketching :) (but it might be too humid).