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With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

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Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Perak Cave Temple - Part 1 of 3

During my trip back to Ipoh recently, I went to visit the Perak Cave Temple. It has been 10 years since the last time I set foot on these concrete steps. Standing here again in front of this old historical temple, I felt a sence of inner peace and calm. Then, one by one, the memories began to unfold. Yes, I have been here many many times before. But I still want to come here again and again.

“Perak Cave Temple - Part 1 of 3”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on October 11th, 2009.

Many like me who hails from this silver state of Perak, Malaysia would have visited this place at least once. If we search our personal and family photo albums, we are bound to come across some pictures of this temple, taken at some point of our lives. This cave temple has been Ipoh's famous tourist attraction since the good old days when Ipoh first became known as the town of millionaires. We bring our visiting friends and relatives to this place because we are proud of this landmark.

Today, my story is about this cave temple and you most likely won't find this information from the usual tourism brochures. Why? Because the experience will be my very own. First, I came here as a a little girl with my parents, later it was with teacher and friends. When I grew up and fell in love, I came here with hubby. After I got married, I came with my own children and in-laws. Now, I bring my friends here too. At the moment, I just can't help thinking about my parent's favourite song by Doris Day, Que Sera Sera......

Can you see this tall casuarina tree here? I bet it is more than half a century old. I have dashed up and down this pavement, playing catch and hide and seek with my siblings and cousins while mum and dad were busy praying inside the temple. I even remember there was a parrot nearby who could mimic human conversations and swear words and we children had a fun time teaching naughty words to the parrot. We had a good laugh listening to the parrot speak and boy, that parrot could even do a wolf whistle at girls!

Many famous personalities and film stars have been photographed here during its heydays from the 50's right up to the 80s. The writings you see on the walls are actually calligraphy works by artists and poets from South East Asia and the Far East. Walking down this road, you will come across some pine trees and other big trees where many monkeys roam. That's the place where I photographed those monkeys fooling around in my earlier Wordless Wednesday post.

The Perak Cave Temple was founded in 1926 by Mr Chong Sen Yee and his wife Choong Chan Yoke who came here from Jiao-Ling County in Guangdong Province, China. At that time, there were many surrounding natural limestone rock formations with dense tropical rainforests. This couple was enchanted by the beauty of this part of Ipoh town which bore a close resemblence to the beautiful mountains and waters of Guilin, China and they applied to the Perak State Government for approval to develop the place. After their demise, this place is now managed by their son, Mr Chong Yin Chat who had carried on this legacy with diligence and respect.

The main attractions here include a beautiful landscaped garden, a giant Buddha statue, statues of dieties in various poses, more than 200 pieces of original artworks, poetry, murals and caligraphy by renown chinese artists and scholars, stalactite-stalagmite formations and the most breathtaking view of Ipoh at the inner peak of this limestone hill.

Here's the landscape garden with summer pavilion, and the grand statue of Guan Yin or Goddess of Mercy in the centre of the pond. She is usually seen holding a vase and standing/sitting on a lotus flower. This pond used to be filled with pink lotus plants but they are gone now. I just love these graceful chinese willows and the bonsai tree next to the rock. Can you see the red inscriptions here? It is also not surprising to see couples coming here to take their outdoor wedding photos.

This is one of the 2 bell towers.

This is the main block of the Perak Caves Temple complex.

This is the restaurant that serves vegetarian food. Most of the time, you can find pomelos being sold here. There is also a souvenir shop and a crematorium with columbarium at another section (not photographed here).

During my recent trip back here, I find that Perak Caves has lost much of its lustre. Numerous beautiful limestone hills in the vicinity have been destroyed by years of quarrying while the surrounding industrial and housing developments have displaced and forced many wildlife out of their natural habitats. The recent rockfall in January 2009 didn't help either. I sincerely wish that something could be done by the authorities before it is too late. I do love this place and I hope to leave behind a legacy for my future generations to enjoy. I do not want it to become another dinosaur in our history books. So my friends, if you are in Malaysia, do visit The Perak Cave Temple and help them revive this place. This temple relies heavily on public donations for its maintenace and upkeep.
The temple is opened daily from 8:00am to 5:00pm.

I would like to end here with this precious old photo taken in 1958. Can you recognise the place? The clue is in the Chinese writings meaning" Perak Cave" or "Pi-Li Tong". I found this from the stacks of Ex-Files left behind by my parents. My mom gave this picture to my dad. She was 21 then. How did I know? She wrote a message to my dad with the date behind the photo! Here she is seen with her mom and dad and 8 other siblings. I think they are standing on the same concrete steps that I have stepped on.

Nowadays, we are so lucky to have the digital camera and internet. We don't have to wait for ages for the prints to be developed and we don't give this type of pictures to our boyfriends anymore. We have Facebooks, twitter and shared secret blogs! My tribute to the 2009 Nobel Prize Winners for Physics, Mr Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for their great inventions and big leap forward.

Lastly, I wish everyone a Happy Weekend and to my friends in the US having a holiday for Christopher Columbus Day, Happy Holidays!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us Autumn Belle - really enjoyed reading your post.

  2. A nice walk down memory lane :))

  3. Actually, I don't think I have been to this place before although I was born in Ipoh ;-( I look forward to see your next post. Have a pleasant evening.

  4. Very nice Autumn :D I always visit the temples in Guangzhou when I'm in China. om mani padme hum.

  5. Its good to walk down the familiar lane and terrain once in a while. It touches the little part in us... I have been watching those temples from far, never once step foot in it... If I do, I will make sure I will stand on your Mom and Dad exact spot!.. Cheers Belle ~ bangchik

  6. There are so many "dongs" (caves) in Perak. They are like a family.

    But Gua tempurung is slightly different, it means for adventure.

    Anyway, I like to visit all of them. They are only about 2 hours driving distance from BM.

  7. Autumn Belle,
    Very nice!!! I loved how you shared that last photo and the story of how you went there as a young girl. It is sad that it is deteriorating. I wish I could visit someday. It is lovely and I can see why couples would want their wedding photos taken at such a place.
    P.s. Now I have that Doris Day song stuck in my mind. I love it!

  8. Very interesting post Autumn Belle. It is good to see Malaysia through your eyes.

  9. What a beautiful place. Thank you for sharing your memories and the beautiful photos.

  10. A gorgeous temple. I always love visiting temples for their cultural traditions and colorful displays. As a poet I really admire and love looking at calligraphy which adorns the walls. This is a spot I would love to visit someday. Just reading your post with all the information and photos makes me want to plan a trip. I love the ancient tree as well. It has alot of character.

  11. How interesting, all the stages of your life you have come to this place, never getting bored. Sure it means a lot for you. I have an aunt in Sungai Siput Perak and hope I can visit her and let her bring us to this wonderful place someday. BTW Ive done the Meme Award and thanks again for being such a nice friend on the net. I can smell it from the music of your story hehe..

  12. Its location is just breathtaking. I was reading with such delight until you mentioned that it's in a state of danger. That's terrible.

    I loved the old photo. You're right, technology can be great! The photo is now digitized and without worry that it will deteriorate, yellow, get wet, rip, etc.

    Fun memories of the parrot! ha!

  13. What a nostlagic moment! A great moment of time where you can always go back and reflect family history.
    Its a sad thing to note that it is not as grand as how it was in the past.
    If I come to Ipoh, I would make an effort to check this Caves and admire the beauty as you have captured it.

  14. Charlotte, Helen, Noelle, thank you very much for the nice comments. I hope that you can visit this place one day.

    Sunshine girl, do visit this place again when you go to Perak. Just like Taiping, Gopeng, Kampar, Tanjung Tuallang, Batu Gajah and Papan, there is so much history and charm here in many towns of Perak. Quite often, Perak is left out when compared to Penang, KL and Melaka.

    Stephanie, my good friend, I am truly surprised that you haven’t been to Perak Caves. Do visit this place someday if you have time. This place is for people who love adventure, hiking, landscaped gardens, poetry, arts and culture.

    Oh Barry, I can see that you like arts and culture too. I like the way you said om mani padme hum!

    Bangchik, I will show you what’s inside the cave in my following 2 posts.

    Rainfield, it is definitely a good idea to visit all the caves in Perak, especially for a person who likes adventures like you. Different caves have different specialties and charm. Currently, Gua Tempurung seems to be more heavily promoted.

    Rosey, yes, it is nice to relive the past if the memories are happy ones. Thanks for singing along the Que Sera Sera song with me.

    Poetic Shutterbug, do look out for my next post on this temple. I hope that you will like the arts and drawings but maybe the culture may be quite foreign to you.

    FJL, I am so glad to hear from you again. I was just wondering where is my friend FJL when I see you here. Panjang umurlah, engkau! LOL. I’ll hop over to your blog soonest possible. I’m very excited about the meme award post.

    Wendy, besides the monkey, I also longed to have a parrot as a pet when I was young. I really loved the parrot and what it can do in the Enid Blyton adventure series. I was fascinated with talking animals then. I hope you can get to know more about Malaysia after reading my blog.

    James, do visit this cave. I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Batu Caves too. I guess you too have a lot of memories with Batu Caves which is so close to your home.

  15. I liked that you did find the old photo.

    If you write about gardenbook as a post please come back and write a link. I will put a translation gadget om my blog, MB

  16. What a wonderful tour you gave us. This was so beautiful and exotic to me. I truly appreciate your sharing this and your memories with me/us. I would never have known of this without your blog.:-)

  17. Wow! Autumn Belle this is so beautiful. What a great piece of architecture and structure and the beautiful background it is laid up against. I bet you just loved this tour.

  18. That temple is so very beautiful. Of course you want to see it taken care of. The old photo of your mother is very heart-warming. Thank you for sharing that with us.

  19. Autumn Belle,

    Beautiful photos, and I am always enamored with the wonderful architecture.

    By the way, thank you for welcoming me to Blotanical.

  20. Just beautiful, Autumn Belle...your photos AND your words!

  21. You are a dear and this heartwarming tour, delightful. Thank you for sharing your memories ... what life is all about!

  22. Thank you for the special tour. I could spend hours in this place.

  23. Very nostalgic, yes. Though I am only in my mid-30s I've been to Perak Tong many times along with the other old cave temples. I am a KL-ite but yet I could feel some sort of affinity or bond everytime I visit these caves. Yours mentioning about Kampar food has brought back very sweet memories of my childhood when my dad brought us there for breakfast from Kampung Timah a new village just next to Tronoh Mines. My mum is from Kampung Timah. Those were probably my most care free days..Beautiful kampung(village) sceneries and crisp fresh air not to mention we get to fill up our stomach to the brim with less than one ringgit.

  24. Maria, actually I am not good at doing book reviews eventhough I am an avid reader of garden books. Nevertheless, I’ll keep your comments in mind.

    LeSan, Daisy, Mary Delle, Di, Lynn, Joey, Jessica. I hope that you could visit Perak Caves when you come to Malaysia one day.

    Chang Boon, it is so nice to get this comment from you. Thank you very much for adding your own experiences regarding these places in the comments to my post here. I truly appreciate it very much. However, your profile here does not provide me with a link, otherwise I can visit your blog too.


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