Malaysia: Ipoh & Taiping Kid-Friendly Trip 2017
(Day 2: Breakfast at Kum Loong Restaurant, Taiping Zoo, Lunch at Taiping Mall, Antong Coffee Mill, Spritzer Ecopark and Factory Tour, Greeneries Memorial Park, Prima Restaurant, Taiping Sentral Mall and Tesco)
After a dimsum breakfast at Kum Loong restaurant, we set off for Taiping Zoo, driving along the road circling Taiping Lake. Along the way, we noticed a few playgrounds with carparks nearby where you can park conveniently.
Entrance fees to Taiping Zoo were RM42.50 for 2 adults and 1 child. We took the tram to go one round around the zoo, then walked a second round to take photos of the animals.
Taiping Zoo is pretty rustic and simple. There are quite a variety of monkeys, apes, deer and birds.
You can see elephants, wallabies, rhinos, hippos and the random lizard on the road.
The lions den had a fascinating pond completely covered with green algae? Until falling leaves rested like snowflakes on green icing.
There is a playground, but watch your kids like a hawk because it’s covered with bird droppings (one crested crane pooped in front of us, and J1 slid down a slide with wet bird droppings, dirtying his shorts) and it’s not a safe playground (one boy fell from the playground onto the ground and his mouth was full of blood).
In fact, droppings are everywhere, even lizard droppings. And monkeys thrashing trash bins in broad daylight to look for food. This is as real as it gets.
I didn’t notice any diaper changing area or nursing room inside the zoo. There is a diaper changing area in the female toilet right outside the zoo entrance gantry. Don’t expect toilet paper, hand soap, paper towels or hot water dispenser.
That being said, Taiping Zoo is a nice place to walk around. Most of the roads have a tree canopy to shade you from the sun and it’s generally not crowded on a weekday.
The tram ride is free. There is a small mini mart in the middle of the zoo and an eatery outside the zoo. There is also a playground right outside the zoo entrance across the road.
My favourite part of the zoo was the central “savannah” where giraffes, zebras, ostriches, emus, flamingoes, kingfishers and even the common pigeons enjoyed each others’ company. This zoo has some big arowana in the pond too.
Lunch was at the empty but conveniently located Taiping Mall. Sushi King RM70+ meal. Kiddy rides galore.
We went to the Antong Coffee Mill where coffee is made using charcoal, and there’s a small section of the old house which Sun Yat Sen stayed in, but nothing much except old photos, furniture and an office for a couple of young female staff to use.
There wasn’t any guide when we reached there, so we couldn’t get a tour of the compound and a meaningful experience. You can choose to buy coffee there if you wish, and take a few photos of the murals.
Next up was the Spritzer Ecopark which is actually a pretty good short stopover. You can check out their Facebook page for activities and discounts off their 18-hole mini golf packages.
You can take a short walk around the park in 15 minutes to take photos, check out the Discovery Tunnel and water facts, and relax at their café.
There are tours of the bottling factory you can register for free of charge at the souvenir shop, where the staff will take you through the fully automated bottling and packaging process. We couldn’t take photos or videos, but the tour which takes about 30 minutes in a noisy factory will be interesting for kids.
Apparently, the machinery and robots sourced for the complete automation started a few years ago, whereas this factory has been around for 20+years. The human staff who work at the factory help check on the machines, repair and top up raw materials into the entire system, which is a long conveyor belt of bottles undergoing several different processes.
From the start (pumping the mineral water up from ground, blowing up the bottle from a small plastic test tube, to washing with mineral water, to filling with water, capping it, putting the label around the bottle, heating to shrink wrap the label, cooling the bottle, cross-sectional photo scans for automated quality control, packaging into cartons, sealing the cartons, robotic arm transferring and arranging the cartons onto a pallet, shrink wrapping the pallet) are all automated by a system put together with machines from Germany, Taiwan, China and more.
There was no productivity grant from the Malaysian government to help fund this. It was actually quite impressive. The Sultan of Perak himself visited the factory.
Spritzer was set up in Taiping because it’s founder is from Taiping, and Taiping being the wettest place in Malaysia, it has a good store of groundwater in the mountains to draw mineral water from.
Spritzer also has multiple brands such as Cactus, Mesra and another brand which is exported to Germany.
After the factory tour, we visited Greeneries Memorial Park for a short walk around.
It is along the way to a Buddhist monastery and a tranquil place.
Dinner was at Prima Restaurant Taiping, where the road is closed for al fresco dining on the street.
There is a wide variety of local food, and the chicken satay at RM0.80 each from nearby N&N is nice too. I enjoyed the Assam limau drink for RM2.10 very much.
We visited Taiping Sentral Mall, which has a few cafés, McDonald’s, Mr DIY (my favourite Daiso-like store), a cinema, some clothes stores, many electronic and phone shops but isn’t terribly exciting.
You can do grocery shopping nearby at Tesco, or cross the road to the small food centre in front of Beverly hotel for makan.
The weather in Taiping is closer to that of Singapore. A bit more humid than other parts of Malaysia, sunny yet more cloudy with a chance of drizzle.
It’s pretty laid back, even more than Ipoh. Locals are friendly and there are many places to eat at.
We will come back here again.
Also published on Medium.