Beautiful lush and green Taiping, Malaysia
Although we have lived and travelled quite a bit in Malaysia, this was our first visit to Taiping. The town is worth stopping by. It offers a refreshing change for usually ugly, moldy, and dirty Malaysian cities that are filled with cars and rubbish. Moreover, Taiping is one of the most well-preserved colonial sites in the country.
We ended up in Taiping because of work exchange and did a website and a booking system for one of the few Taiping hostels. We lived conveniently in the town centre within a ten-minute walk from the famous Lake Gardens. Päivi exercised in the Gardens every morning with the Chinese who gather there from 5:30 am onwards. Taiping has a Chinese majority, which makes it a bit similar to Taiwan. Even the exercise routines are the same: the Chinese slap themselves, shuffle backward, and do calisthenics. The backward shuffle is supposed to relieve back pain and boost kidney function. Some believe that it even allows you to reverse the sins of the past. Much more convenient that paying an arm and a leg to some church, or burning tons of fake paper money!
Plenty of rain, not many tourists
Taiping is known to be the wettest place in seriously rainy Malaysia but fortunately it was the so-called dry season. It still rained a lot but mostly in the afternoon, while mornings were usually sunny. Because of the rains, there is no lack of mosquitoes. For some reason, these mosquitoes left Päivi alone and feasted instead on Santeri. We don't even want to think about what it will be like during the rainy season.
Taiping doesn't attract a great many tourists as most backpackers head to Penang. While we love Penang perhaps the most of Malaysian destinations, Taiping has its perks. Thanks to the low number of tourists, the town has an aura of authenticity. In the beginning, locals stared at us, which doesn't happen in the bigger and more popular cities in Malaysia. Apparently they eventually got used to us because after a couple weeks, we were able to walk around without feeling to be the sight. Instead, we were regularly greeted by many locals.
Although small, Taiping had everything we needed: plenty of green areas, relatively fresh air for a Malaysian town, a wet market, big hypermarkets including Tesco, good train connections to KL and what is the best of all, all this within a walking distance. There was no need to use any buses or metros and pollute the air any further.