Ipoh to Melaka (Melaka)

Our time in Ipoh has come to an end and we need to travel south back to Kuala Lumpur to drop off the car before we go to Melaka. So we set off down the expressway towards KLIA2. But not before we take an hour to stop at Kellie’s Castle just south of Ipoh.
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Kellie’s Castle was built by William Kellie Smith, a Scottish man who came to live in Malaysia. We didn’t know what to expect from the castle so went on a whim merely because we had seen the brown tourist signs pointing towards it. And what a delightful whim it was.
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William Smith’s castle proved to be a grand ruin. Smith started building his mansion and castle in 1909 but never completed his work due because he died while in Portugal sourcing materials. But what work he did complete was complex and creative.
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The first thing that struck me were the windows. Smith was inspired by Hinduism and it shows in the way he shaped his windows. I think this is what makes this building so wonderful to explore. Every room provides a different view depending on both the way it faces and the shape of the windows Smith selected. These upside down water drop windows are probably my favourite.
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Though higher up these triple windows make even the palm tree plantation look picturesque (trust me, palm tree plantations are not picturesque).
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It is said that Kellie’s Castle is haunted by a range of ghosts, including Smith’s daughter Helen. She didn’t die here but it is said her spirit walks the balcony corridors near the room that was to be her bedroom. Perhaps her spirit is still here because when we walked along the corridor, neither Paul nor I noticed the door to Helen’s bedroom. We walked straight past it and into the room that was to belong to her younger brother Anthony. It wasn’t until we noticed the secret passageway between Anthony and Helen’s rooms that we knew about her bedroom. Now it might be that Helen didn’t want us to enter her room from the corridor. Perhaps she was standing there and didn’t want to be disturbed. Or maybe we were just too busy looking over at Kallas Mansion (the house Smith originally built for his family to live in) to notice Helen’s room. I know which version of events I prefer and it’s not the latter.
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Kellas House sits close behind Kellie’s Castle. It was named after Smith’s home town in Scotland. The House stands almost totally in ruins and one wall is held in place by heavy metal scaffolding. But even in this state the house is a grand piece of colonial architecture.
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The colour of the house alone screams wealth and style. The few rows of old Italian marble tiles speak to Smith’s tastes and it is said his death in Portugal occurred while he was sourcing yet more elegant fittings for the house.
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After Smith died his wife and children returned to Scotland and the house fell into ruin. Slowly, over time, the jungle took over and covered the property and buildings. It’s easy to see how this can happen here in the tropics where everything is green and lush. Even now, the jungle is still trying to defeat the efforts of those who keep this attraction open to tourists. We both enjoyed Kellie’s Castle. It was an unexpected find with enough story to keep us entertained and enough historical information to help us appreciate its relevance.
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But all good things must come to an end and we had a 2pm deadline to return the car at KLIA2. It was already 11:30am when we drove out of Kellie’s Castle and back towards the expressway. With about 210km to travel, this meant we would be cutting the car hire return fine. We actually made really good time for the first 140km of the drive, cruising along easily at 110kph (the speed limit on the motorway). But then we reached the north of Kuala Lumpur and traffic came to a screaming halt because road works were being completed on the middle lane of one of the busiest north-south sections of the highway. The calm and sensible driving we had experienced in the north went to the dogs as cars and trucks battled each other to make headway. It was like being back home in Brisbane where drivers prefer to block traffic in order to be first than to wait their turn and allow traffic to flow for everyone. It was the first time I had really sensed a Western “I have more right to get where I am going than you do” attitude to driving anywhere in Asia. It was an unpleasant 45 minutes of trying to go with the flow without being crushed by trucks or dented by cars.
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Though the traffic jam did mean we got to sit behind this Ferrari for a little while and get some photos of it. I’m not even into cars but think this was a pretty sweet ride.
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Somewhere in the traffic jam we decided that we didn’t want to rely on public transport to get to and around Melaka. So when we got to KLIA2 half an hour late, we asked whether we could extend our rental for another three days. The car was available so we amended the rental agreement and set off south on the now quiet expressway to Melaka. Finding our hotel was relatively easy, thanks to Paul’s iPad (large screen) and Google maps. After settling in and having a rest for an hour we went out to look for food. It had been a long day of driving and I was exhausted so we decided to leave any real exploration of the city for the next day. Besides, the hotel had airconditioning and wifi so we could escape the heat and catch up on Facebook and my blog.

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2 thoughts on “Ipoh to Melaka (Melaka)

    • Hi Jon, Your blog looks great. I would like to travel to the Philippines someday. I am always tempted when I see blog posts or stories from there. But there are so many places I want to go to. Maybe next year will be the year 🙂 .

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