Exploring Kuala Kangsar
After we finished settling the house, we decided to take the boys out for a bit of culture. Well, to the Istana at Bukit Chandan and while at it, across the bridge to Sayong to see some labu being made.
Kuala Kangsar used to be located on the main trunk road from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. Since PLUS highway was opened back in 1985, the town has suffered. There used to be thriving home enterprises making and selling pottery, and the most famous of them all was the 'labu sayong'. These are earthenwares that were quite tedious to make, needing to be baked in ovens after being shaped into a gourd. They have a distinctive shape and used to store drinking water at a cool temperature despite blazing heat. For this, we traveled across the modern Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah Bridge to the village of Sayong.
Prior to PLUS highway being opened, plenty of traffic passed through these villages, and business was good. Nowadays, there were only a few shops left and many of the small works make the labu to be shipped to bigger towns for tourists to buy. We had the chance of visiting one such workshop that day and brought home a few jars. Irfan got himself a small little vessel for his plants. After lunch, we headed into Kuala Kangsar town.
We drove up the Bukit Chandan past the Ubudiyah Mosque towards Istana Iskandariah. The Istana was not opened for visitors. This is the official home of the Sultan of Perak. Around the main Istana, there were a couple smaller ones, the Istana Kenangan, now converted to the Royal Museum and Istana Ulu, now turned into Galeri Sultan Azlan Shah. The Royal Meseum was closed for renovation, so we went straight to the Gallery instead.
This gallery housed mainly the personal effects of Sultan Azlan Shah and his family. Entry cost RM4 for adults but free for my boys. The compound were divided into two main areas, the main building and the guardhouse which was converted into the Sultan's car exhibition room. In between was the main courtyard with series of fountains and water spreads. I was not allowed to take photographs inside the galleries. The main attraction for Puan Anita was Raja Nazrin's young family with the arrival of the heir, Raja Azlan Muzaffar. I was quite interested in the Sultan's career in the Judiciary before he was made King. I also noticed that there was a typo on one of the official picture. The current First Lady's name was misspelt …… Was it worth the RM4? If the gallery did not take any of government money for upkeep and was self-sustained, then it was. If it needed other source for maintenance, then they should consider lowering the prices. It may be too steep for local visitors, but for foreigners, RM4 is practically pocket change.
The car gallery came next before the boys got bored and started running in the courtyard. Unfortunately it started drizzling soon after, and we headed back to our hotel room for some well-earned rest.