I know that many people would say they want a job with no work to do and a decent enough pay packet to have a good time with.
|Kellie's Castle in profile|
Yeah, perhaps we all want a job that doesn't throw out our backs.
|The lift tower|
Yes, there are times when even work gets to be this way. Utter doldrums, boundless limbo and I hear the clamourings of nonchalant optimism that we will be off the ground soon in a decibular battle against the industry prophets of doom who insist that the end is not yet in sight.
I believe that this hiatus is granted to me for a reason. I know that when I am on the work cycle, days melt into each other in a seamless conglomerate of sectors, month-end summaries, check rides and days off. There is the hunt for a breather to work out the outstanding chores, repairs in waiting and the loyalty to a fitness programme that each day slips further out of enforcement's reach. Since the words of the prophets say that there is no end in sight, I proposed, unchallenged by recognisably violent objections, a road trip to Taiping.
|The Peoples' Car, with currently valid road tax!!!|
|And they were each assigned very hazardous duties|
|The front view of the castle, with Mammoiselle Rue on the bridge|
Brenda had for some time, even from the days of our courtship on the saddle of a Suzuki, asked for a visit to Kellie's Castle. It was time to sniff out this location, as my daughters were agog with their mother's thrilling suggestion. As the 1.8 litre Nu engine was fired up on the gloom of Tuesday morning, the relic's destination was acquired on the GPS.
|The view must have been much better in Smith's time|
We made Kellie's Castle at about 1400H, and looking at its structure, I felt immediate awe and respect for this man who laboured for the ones he loved amidst much tragedy. The castle was beautiful, set atop a knoll which in its time would have overlooked the lush countryside towards the west and the limestone bluffs of the silver state towards its eastern gaze, with the spine of the Titiwangsa as its backdrop.
|The stairs to the upper rooms. Lovely wooden balustrade|
As I strode through the corridors and looked upon the lifeless dressing-rooms and dining halls, I mused at what so enrapt Mr Smith so as to make him choose this place as his abode. You would not have set off on such a task as our own Taj Mahal on a whimsy and then take off back to Blighty.
|The girls in Helen's room|
This would have been a magnificient home. The estate was well-thought, with linen rooms, wine cellars, a rooftop courtyard for parties and underground and underwater tunnels so that the family could get to the Hindu temple Kellie Smith had built across the river in gratitude to the Hindu deity whom he believed blessed him with his long awaited son Anthony.
It is heartbreaking to follow the tragic story of this obviously successful planter's endeavour to build his family home which ended in ruin and abandon till the government takeover to mint its tourist potential. I concur that perhaps it should be seen to its opulent completion, and thereby set the Smith family's souls to eternal rest instead of sentencing them to ceaselessly wander the corridors till kingdom come.
|Down to the dungeon!!!|
|The walkway through the Villa|
|I surmise that Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture" has a lineage: the senior Elantra spotted outside Prima|
The light in the sky was fading with the last sighings of evening as we finally checked in at Sentosa Villa. The air was laden with the enticing aroma of durians and jackfruits hanging from the trees, with trapeze nets suspended under them to safeguard the unwary. I was grateful that the management had thought of this, as I see a descending durian as more of a spiked anvil in freefall.
|Ducks amidst the pandan|
So the agenda over the next day was to make it to the zoo and the Perak Museum. Both destinations were preloaded on the GPS, so finding our way was a no-brainer. I do not personally love zoos. The reason for it was revisited upon me as we sat lazily in the safari train, and later, as we walked for a bit to look at the big cats and the gaur.
|Antonio's endowed cousins|
I always feel sad for the beasts, not so much just for the captivity, but more for their sad state of health. The ostriches had poor plumage, looking like they had been sitting in boiling water all day, nigh feathered for Rowan Atkinson's Christmas roasting. The camels looked as if they were begging to get shot, their hides all mangy like threadbare carpets, crouched so despiritedly on the ground as to be unable to muster up an insulting spit shot at passers-by. But the big cats were fun to watch, reminding us of Antonio 7 hours drive away, and how he would be contending with mean-spirited monkeys and unspayed (read as territorial) cats swarming his driveway.
As the one who suggested this hare-brained scheme of a roadtrip to Taiping, the girls decided to reward me with an Indian breakfast as the thought of the long drive home on Thursday morning made me ravenous the minute I woke up. And yes, I did in fact feel rewarded because the food at Annapurna was OMG sumptuous. Yes, perhaps the locals would draw my blood for saying that, but Indian food is Indian food for me. I would gobble it down by nosing in a trough if that were the way it presented itsef to me.
My girls will testify to the truth in that statement.