|The Gopeng Heritage House exhibits antiques from the tin mining heydays of Gopeng in Perak, Malaysia.|
Before the state capital of Ipoh grew in prominence in the late 19th century, the town of Gopeng, 20 km south, in the Kampar district of Perak, Malaysia was the premier tin mining town, where, as a result of the economic boom, people came to spend money on opium, gambling and women, among many pursuits. The town was populated by an eclectic group of Sumatran immigrants, Chinese miners and European businessmen working for foreign mining companies.
The tired and old shophouses in the town center are the vestiges of the heydays of Gopeng, which has sadly gone into steady decline since the tin mining industry collapsed in the 1980s. While most of the heritage buildings in town have been neglected or abandoned, a couple of structures have been dutifully restored by locals to resuscitate the historic town and educate its younger residents and visitors alike of its illustrious past. Opened in 2009, the Muzium Gopeng (Gopeng Museum) houses numerous artifacts and antiques from the tin mining years. While admission to the museum is free, it’s best to solicit the help of a tour guide or purchase a brochure to help you sort out and appreciate the haphazard, caption-less displays of curios and artifacts.
|The woodsy interior of Gopeng Heritage House|
Aside from the Gopeng Museum, there’s a newer annex housed in a restored shophouse along a nearby street. A red two-storey building along Jalan Sungai Itek – one of 13 century-old shophouses along this street – has been renovated into the Gopeng Heritage House, an annex of Gopeng Museum, which has a more sensible layout than the original museum. I especially enjoyed sitting on the comfy antique barbershop chair, and exploring the airy recesses of the attic, looking out the small windows to admire the shabby shingles of the other heritage houses. Also of interest to me were an old but still functioning electric fan from the 1920s that oscillates in circles; as well as pipes and other paraphernalia used in smoking opium. Overall, Gopeng is a fascinating stopover on a trip to or from Ipoh, especially for history buffs who would like to visit an important former mining town. I hope more shophouses will be restored and converted into souvenir shops and restaurants to attract more tourists and revitalize the worn-out and shabby settlement.
|Gopeng became the boomtown of tin mining in the Kinta Valley|
|Antique oil lamps on display at Muzium Gopeng (Gopeng Museum)|
Muzium Gopeng (Gopeng Museum)
Address: 28 Jalan Eu Kong, 31600 Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia
Open on Saturdays and Sundays only from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Free Admission. Museum guide for only MYR 10.
Tel.: +60 53597828, +60 175785185 or +60 165421287
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
This blog post was made possible through Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia – Perak, a media tour held last October 28 to 31, 2013. The event was organized by Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Malaysia in celebration of Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
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