You can say this continues from In Perak's royal mausoleum to give justice to Laksamana Raja Mahkota Muhammad Amin . That very afternoon, after visiting the tomb and then the mosque besides (see Masjid Ubudiyah di (The Ubudiyah mosque in) Kuala Kangsar, Perak... ), I managed to hitchike a ride to Sungai Siput. On top is the picture taken the next day, that of the Lembaga Peladang (farmers' body) headquarters in Sungai Sejuk some 7km from Sungai Siput. That's where I meet a new friend Syahir, a huge fan of my novel series "Berpetualang ke Aceh"'
He was very excited upon finding out that I was somewhere travelling in Perak. So he invited me to come and circumstances which follows made me oblige... The circumstances includes the hitchike to Sungai Siput. Actually after visiting the royal mausoleum, I just wanted to hike down Bukit Chandan and was not sure where to head next. That's when the driver said he is going to Kuala Lumpur via the old road which passes through Sungai Siput!
Among the houses for staff there. Syahir stays in one of the houses with a wife and kid. I had a few deja vu here, at least twice, once inside the house, once outside...
A unique-looking hill not far from Syahir's place... It lies besides the Kuala Kangsar to Sungai Siput/ Ipoh main road, on the junction to Sungai Sejuk. The funny things is I first noticed this hill while going from Ipoh to Kedah via Kuala Kangsar with another friend Badrul just about 4 days ago. To think that I've passed this road at least 10 times going to and fro Ipoh and Kuala Kangsar in the last 2-3 years or so but it's only this time I looked out and took note of the hill.
I remembered telling Bad I wish I could have a good look at it. Bad just smiled. We have a few places to stop at in Kuala Kangsar and then we must get to Yan, Kedah hopefully by the afternoon. Little did I realise, just about 4 days after that I would see the hill again and actually lodge at a place not so far behind it!
The unique hill is actually located behind Sungai Siput's general hospital... Syahir and Bad told me, most people call it Bukit Singa (the lion hill). There might be other names. They said because it looks like the head of a lion from far... Well, I can't see anything remotely resembling a lion from here and I can't see it in all 3 days I was there (yes, little did I realise I would spend 3 nights in Sungai Siput. All my life, I have spent only a night here at that was in 2006)... Perhaps, I didn't see from the right angle. Perhaps I don't look hard enough... Perhaps.
Still, I managed to recognised what seems to be the look like a man's face engraved (naturally or by illusion, who knows?) on the face of the stone jutting out from the summit of the hill. Look closely and you can see it too!
Hmm... I looked again just now... Now this face seems to look like a lion's... Are my eyes playing tricks on me? But everyone says it's the face of a man, so much so that local folks would sometime stop their cars on the roadside in the afternoon just to have some sort of picnic and feast their eyes on the sight. Hmm... I think I remember Syahir saying the hill looks like a lion's head when seen in overall, not just the stone jutting out from the top...
Anyway, I started making this posting just so that I have one too here for the 1st of March. I though I would just put this 4 pictures and then say a line or two because most of the materials would be reserved for another round of story-telling, soonest after Sunday I think. But now I realise, I was "moved" to do this because there's a big significance about all this... You see, without realising it then, I actually and literally made Sungai Siput my base of travel for the next 3 days... Actually 4 if you count 2 consecutive nights in Sungai Siput, 1 in Lenggong about 60km away and the following night in Sungai Siput before I left the area for good.
If in Kedah, I "set-up" camp with Badrul at Pak Chak's place in Kampung Ruat, Yan where from there I travelled around Sungai Petani the first day, around Alor Setar the second and up Gunung Jerai the third, then Sungai Siput played the same role for some travels made in Perak. It is from there Syahir and me made a Perak round-trip covering Ipoh, Gopeng, Tanjung Tualang, Kampung Gajah, Bota Kanan, Beruas and then pass Manong to Kuala Kangsar before returning to Sungai Siput and bunking again at Syahir's place. (Syahir pointed out to the car meter at Beruas... It shows 191km already travelled then, another auspicious number for me, hehe! :)
The next day, I met another friend Asri and followed him to Lenggong. The following day we made a round trip in upper Perak before returning to Sungai Siput where I lodged at Asri's. Another funny thing that came to mind upon realising that Sungai Siput was actually made a base-camp (while writing this! honest!) is the thought that it could once be a capital for an ancient kingdom... One that features prominently in both Malay folklores and actual history!
Have you heard the name Gangganegara? It is said to be a Hindunised kingdom existing since the 2 century AD almost 2,000 years ago. Based on archeological evidences and readings from ancient classical texts on the matter, experts have argued as to the actual location of the kingdom. Among the "nominees" are Beruas some 80km away, Pengkalan (if I remember correctly the name) somewhere in Ipoh 30 km away and here in Sungai Siput.
I myself is of the feel and opinion that it is somewhere nearer to the shore of the straits of Melaka at Pengkalan Remis about 100km from here. But when I reflect back on Sungai Siput being my base camp and tie that to the fact that I actually lodged not far from the unique looking hill, it crossed my mind that yes, Sungai Siput was once a seat of the kingdom if not THE seat... In fact, I remember Syahir teling me a friend of his who believes in the unseen said the face on top of the hill is of a king who bears the title "Johan Berdaulat" just like a dynasty of kings who have ruled Aceh before it was known as Aceh!
Then again the conflict in determining the true location existed because we forget, the boundaries of GanggaNegara could have included all... Only the capital shifted place with time and the flight and fancy of the rulers. Whatever, the stories of travelling perhaps related to the kingdom will be told and pictures shared in due time...
Meanwhile I have appeased my strange gut-feelings and curiousity with numbers, dates and order of things and happenings which could suddenly feel auspicious. So good night everyone, I deserve a good rest and so do you! Cheers... :]