The inconspicuous town of Gopeng in Mukim Teja, District of Kampar, about 20 kilometers south of Ipoh, is draped by dramatic limestone hills that stare out towards the Titawangsa Mountains. In the olden days, Gopeng was a leading tin mining town in Kinta Valley until about 1890 when the industry crumpled. The rise of the celebrated Eu Tong Sen and British tin mining magnate like the Straits Trading Company, Osborne and Chappel and Tekka beckoned Chinese immigrants to settle and work here, eventually toning down the original Malay inhabitants. Today, at the town center, old-forgotten shop houses standing shoulder to shoulder and other century-old edifices tells of years of its opulence.
Here are some of the places of interests in Gopeng to help you plan your trip:
The Gopeng Heritage House
Among the 13 heritage shophouses crammed along Jalan Sungai itek, a beautifully restored Baba Ngonya abode painted in pink stands out. The rooms are transformed into evocative kopitiam (Chinese coffee shop), a barber shop and a night club. Walk back in time as you enter the house cum museum adorned with opulent heirlooms, antiques and memorabilia dating back from the British administration period. Experience how it feels to live like a middle class family at the turn of the 20th century in Gopeng. The Gopeng Heritage House is open to visitors from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM on weekends only. Admission is free but donation for the upkeep of the residence is strongly encouraged.
Gopeng Heritage House
Address: 6 Jalan Sungai Itek, 31600 Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia
Open daily except Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Originally constructed out of wood and with attap roofing back in 1895, the site of the old Market Square in Gopeng sits at the circular road. Today, the old building is nowhere in sight now but the site has been converted into a public square baptized as Dataran Rafflesia.
Nearby Muzium Gopeng along Eu Kong Stree, Market Street (now Jalan Pasar) and High Street (Jalan Tasek) is the pre-war town centre where over 68 shophouses were destroyed by the 1186 Gopeng fire. This area is where the old market and the theater were built and today, a good number of shophouses still remains as reminders of years of prosperity and tin mining heyday.
Kwong Weng Por Kee
At first glance this rundown shophouse may look ordinary but take a closer look and be amazed by the impressive intricate carvings of flowers and animals on its façade just below the window panes. This beautiful Art Deco inspired building is believed to have been built sometime in 1930s.
Adjacent to the Gopeng Heritage House, one can find a few rows of ragged single-storey wooden shophouses with tiled roofs dating back before World War I that have survived the Gopeng fire in 1886. Based on anecdotes, these vestiges were used by Eu Tong Sen, the vice-president of the Anti-Opium Society and a member of the Kinta Sanitary Board, as horse stables.
Situated along No.28 Jalan Eu Kong after the eponymous tin-miner Eu Kong Pui, Muzium Gopeng display a wide collection of artifacts, old furniture calligraphy paintings and photographs dating back to the colonial period to modern history. It was opened sometime in April 2009 and is currently managed by the Gopeng Museum Management Society chaired by Mr. Yaw.
Muzium Gopeng (Gopeng Museum)
Address: 28 Jalan Eu Kong, 31600 Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia
Open on Weekends only from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Free Admission. Museum guide for only MYR 10.
Tel.: +60 53597828, +60 175785185, +60 165421287
Disclosure: This trip was made possible through Celebrating 1 Malaysia Truly Asia, an event organized by Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Malaysia in celebration of Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
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