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  • Writer's pictureRick

West Malaysia Day 20: Kakak Coffee & Lake Gardens of Taiping

Saturday. A bad day to be on the move as all train tickets were sold out for the weekend. I extended for another day in Taiping as it was cheaper to be here on weekends than other popular towns or cities in the northwestern part of Malaysia, such as Langkawi, Penang, Ipoh, Cameron Highlands.

Continuing the list of places that I had not revisited, I went to Restoran Kakak (家家茶室) for its noddle dishes and Kakak’s special coffee. At close to 10am, the restaurant was pretty crowded but there were a couple of tables available.

I ordered shredded chicken kway teow soup and a hot Kakak Special, which was said to be Nescafé coffee added with barley. Kakak was the only place with this unique coffee, so it was definitely must try again when in Taiping. The kway teow soup was still one of the best after all these years.

Restoran Kakak

I had to do something in Taiping — otherwise, it would be wasted to extend a day. I walked to Taiping Lake Gardens, which was right beside the town. It took just 10 minutes to reach the first landmark, a MacDonald. There was no official entrance to the garden, so MacDonald was sort-of a starting point for me.

Taiping Lake Gardens did not change much after all these years. Even though it was transformed from a tin mine, it seek to be a natural biological park for wildlife. The garden was designed with just one or two trails that made me walked one full round around it.

Taiping Lake Gardens

I spent nearly two hours in the lake gardens, with about 30 minutes waiting to photograph a large wild turtle that I spotted in one of the lakes. I had never seen such a big turtle in a lake before — someone must had “freed” it in a man-made freshwater lake thinking a good deed was done. Except for the turtle’s head, I was not able to take a photo of its whole body.

The last time I was in Taiping Lake Gardens, I spent about an hour chasing after a kingfisher with my DSLR camera. I did not bring the heavy camera this time, so I went after larger animals. I spotted some monkeys, water monitor lizards, an otter, herons, cranes, terrapins and, of course, that big turtle.

At 12:30pm, I finished one loop around the lake garden and came to Rainy Corner Cafe (雨乡.咖啡), which was near the garden. I had a healthy dish of chicken brown rice on a staff’s recommendation with a cup of Americano coffee. The healthy dish had no oil, less sugar and less salt. Perfect.

Rainy Corner Cafe

Then, I added-on a matcha red bean cake. It was quite a big one at RM10 only. I was enjoying the cake when a realisation flashed through my head, did I just cancelled the benefits of a healthy dish with a large creamy cake? 😂

No more snack or dessert for me for the rest of the day.

I left the cafe at around 2pm, and was considering whether to pay a visit to Perak Museum since it was the next “attraction” nearest to Taiping old town after Taiping Lake Gardens. However, it would be about 20 minutes’ walk from the cafe. I was not a museum-goer, so a hot afternoon sun swayed me easily towards the hotel.

It had been 20 days into this journey and I had to decide how I should round up this trip. My original idea was to do a big loop from Johor to Langkawi in the far northwest corner, then swung to the northeast islands of Perhentian or Redang via Cameron Highlands, and travelled along the eastern coast down to Johor. But I was not really into beaches and the April sun was convincing me it was too hot to even step on the sand.

After evaluating all my options for the next stop, I decided to move on to Cameron Highlands via Ipoh. It would be a no-reservation journey since I was unable to secure a train to Ipoh on the following day, a Sunday. I needed to try for a seatless ticket at the train station on the day itself. If my plan gone haywire, I would stop in Ipoh and continue the next day, which would be a weekday. As a result, I could not book accommodation until I was on the bus to Cameron Highlands. And I could not book the bus to Cameron Highlands until I was on the train to Ipoh.

For dinner, I went to the hottest place in Taiping on a Saturday night — the road junction between Jalan Kota and Jalan Manecksha. The tables in this area were shared and food and beverages could be purchased from either Prima Coffee Shop or Pusat Makanan 3939. There was actually a third coffee shop right behind them.

Jalan Manecksha Food Street

I saw a satay stall, named John Satay, in the morning when walking past Prima Coffee Shop along the way to Taiping Lake Gardens. I came for its Thai-style pork satays and Malaysian-style chicken satays. I ordered 5 of each. The satays were really tasty especially the Thai-style pork satays with the Thai green chilli sauce. Nice and tasty.

For carbo, I bought potato wedges from the stall beside John Satay, called Bawang Fried Chicken (霸王鸡). Their fried chicken and chicken wings looked very tasty too but I already had meat for the dinner.

John Satay & Bawang Fried Chicken (霸王鸡)

Back at the hotel, while drafting this post, I realised I had missed out hor ga sai (kopi-o added with Milo chocolate powder, 虎咬狮), another special coffee that originated from Taiping. I must have it before leaving Taiping the next day.

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