Kuala Lipis was a gold mining town for some time before the British arrived in 1887. Things really started looking up when it was declared the capital of Pahang and construction began on many governmental colonial buildings. A separate area was established for the Chinese and Indian migrants, and today, the old shophouses add a touch of character and colour to the area near the confluence of the Lipis and Jelai Rivers.
Even today, a large percentage of the population is Chinese and Indian and they use English, as a common language, so there is no problem for visitors to communicate.
The colonial architecture provides a striking contrast to the ‘new town’ built across the river from the ‘old town’. The stately maroon and white buildings of the District Offices rise above the former Anglo-Chinese School, built in 1913. The school was later named after Sir Hugh Clifford, the second British Resident of Pahang. During the WWII, the school was taken over by the Kempetai, the Japanese secret police. Today, Clifford School is an exclusive private school.
The capital was shifted to the eastern coastal city of Kuantan in 1957 and Kuala Lipis started a slow period of decline. However, now that gold prices are climbing dramatically once again, there has been somewhat of a revival of fortunes here with companies seeking to explore for gold in the region.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We were quite surprised to wake up in the morning at the Riverside Resort and find that the clouds had returned and smothered the jungle in mist once again. We couldn’t believe our luck; it seemed that the fine weather had been especially ordered for us so that we wouldn’t miss out on the unforgettable canopy walk and the boat trip on the river.
There didn’t seem much point in hanging around the park, so we set off towards Kuala Lipis, with the intention of having lunch there and exploring some of the colonial architecture we had read about in our guidebook. We had decided to make a hasty swing into Kuala Lumpur to retrieve a suitcase we had stored at the Anggun guesthouse, so we had a long day’s driving ahead of us.
The skies cleared not long after we left the park and rejoined the main highway. Traffic was light and I was less nervous than the day before. I settled in to watch the world go by the car window; there wasn’t a lot of navigation to do until we reached Kuala Lipis. When we arrived, we headed straight for the Chinatown area and David was delighted to find a meal he enjoyed to the fullest.
Anil and I weren’t hungry at all, so we went for a walk to allow me to photograph some of the buildings along the narrow streets. We were startled to see how high the rivers were; in fact, the water was overflowing the banks at the point where the two rivers met. On our way out of town, we stopped for gas and the attendant told us that there was a serious risk of more flooding to come.