BY ELWEEN LOKE
The scenic lake view in front of the Westlake International School.
KAMPAR may have taken on a new identity as an education hub in Perak, but the tin-mining town in the silver state certainly has charming attractions well known among the locals.
From mouth-watering food to fascinating heritage sites, there is more to Kampar than meets the eye.
Ching Suet Ling, 40, said visitors should sample the food at stalls in Kampar old town, where the locals normally have their meals.
The tin dredge in Tanjung Tualang, which is located some 16km away from Kampar town.
She said one of her favourite hawker centres in Kampar was a row of shops popularly known as the “36 stalls” in Jalan Baru.
“The place is made up of many food stalls that sell assam laksa, wonton, curry and beef noodles.
“Most of the stall owners have been operating their business for decades,” she said.
Another “must-visit” food paradise, she added, was the Kampar market.
“Visitors can savour the fried kuey teow, porridge and glutinous rice with chicken (lo mai gai) there,” she said.
Tourists exploring the wonders of Gua Tempurung.
Ching, a Kampar resident who is a lecturer in Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), said she had been patronising some of the stalls since she was a child.
She said she would always recommend the “36 stalls” to colleagues and students looking for good food in the town.
Meanwhile, Lam Ching Loong, 45, opined that visitors should not miss tasting the freshwater prawns in Tanjung Tualang, 16km from Kampar town.
Lam, a mini-market operator, said the freshwater prawns were fresh, juicy and succulent, and were comparatively cheaper than those sold in Kuala Lumpur.
He said the prawns could either be stir-fried to enhance the flavour of the meat or steamed to preserve its natural taste.
“I even had Singaporean friends who travelled all the way to Tanjung Tualang to enjoy a feast of freshwater prawns,” Lam said, adding that each of them paid about RM80 for the meal.
Visitors are also encouraged to visit the country’s largest tin dredge, which is some 8km from Tanjung Tualang town.
The tin dredge, which is three storeys high and weighs 4,500 tonnes, was the largest mining machine of its kind.
Life- sized models of tin miners washing tin ores at the Kinta Tin Mining Museum.
Kampung Batu 7 villager Mohd Shahrul Mohd Omar, 56, said the machine was used during the heyday of the tin-mining in Kampar.
Mohd Shahrul, who runs a home-based sundry shop, said tourists could get to know tin-mining history by viewing the tin dredge up close.
He commended efforts in promoting the tin dredge as a heritage site because more tourists had visited the site compared to the last few years.
“Works have been done to restore the tin dredge, and the authority has also spruced up its unkempt surroundings,” observed Mohd Shahrul.
Utar undergraduate Cherry Chai, 22, said that to better understand Kampar’s history, visitors should visit the Kinta Tin Mining (Gravel Pump) Museum in Kampar new town.
The museum was the brainchild of 81-year-old tin miner-turned-developer Tan Sri Hew See Tong, who spent about RM2mil on the project.
Chai said the museum documented the rise and fall of the tin-mining industry in the town.
The grand structure of the Guan Yin Temple in Tronoh Mines new village in Kampar.
“We get to see tin-mining scenes recreated with life-sized models of tin-miners working in a palong and female workers sifting tin ores using dulang (pan).
“It is fun and educational,” she said, adding that children would enjoy their visit to the museum, which does not charge admission fee.
Chai said her parents, who live in Pasir Gudang, Johor, were also impressed with the museum when they visited the site early this year.
While history buffs can immerse themselves in the displays, extreme sports enthusiasts can take part in paintball games at the field a few blocks away.
Utar student Chin Yee Fai, 20, said playing paintball with his friends during his free time was a way to relieve stress.
“We played paintball twice last year and absolutely enjoyed the thrilling experience,” he said.
Chin said he would also play badminton with his coursemates at the sheltered sports complex, adjacent to the paintball field.
Caving activity in Gua Tempurung, some 20km away from Kampar town, is also popular among nature lovers and adventurers.
Norsyahira Iwana Noor Ruszalan, 15, said the cave was popular among Singaporean and Thai tourists, who normally come in tour groups.
“University and college students from all over the country would also organise trips to take part in caving activities, especially during weekends or school holidays,” she said.
A restaurant operator netting out freshwater prawns in her shop in Tanjung Tualang.
Norsyahira Iwana, who lives nearby, said many who had visited the cave were impressed by the pristine scenery in Gua Tempurung.
On the outskirts of Kampar, Tronoh Mines has recently become a hot spot for followers of Goddess of Mercy, thanks to the newly established Guan Yin temple in the new village.
Villager Choo Swee Kew, 69, said devotees and visitors from Tapah, Ipoh and Sitiawan would flock to the temple to offer prayers to the goddess.
“The temple would become more crowded during major festivals such as the birthdays of the Goddess of Mercy,” she said.
Choo, who sells economy rice for a living, said first-time visitors were often amazed by the enormous structure.
“It is extensively decorated with traditional paintings and calligraphy plaques.
“We as villagers are proud of the significant landmark,” she said.
She and some of the villagers, who live nearby, volunteer to clean the temple once in a while, she added.