Gopeng all set to glow


Campers enjoying the sunset at Bukit Batu Putih near Kampung Pintu Padang. — Courtesy of Gopeng Glamping Park

EFFORTS are being made to increase sports, cultural, education and business activities in Gopeng, which is now a well-known eco-tourism destination in Perak.

The former tin mining town, about 20km from Ipoh, is popular for its natural attractions such as Gua Tempurung and Gua Kandu for cave exploration, and outdoor activity options like jungle trekking, and whitewater rafting along Sungai Kampar.

Gopeng is known for outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting along Sungai Kampar.Gopeng is known for outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting along Sungai Kampar.

Those with a penchant for nature exploration can head to the trails in Ulu Geroh to see the world’s biggest flower – rafflesia – and interestingly, the endangered Rajah Brooke Birdwing which is Malaysia’s national butterfly.

Teja assemblyman Sandrea Ng Shy Ching said it was important to promote the town and its surrounding areas as it would give visitors other activities to do during their stay in Gopeng.

Ng: It is necessary to promote the town and the surrounding areas to visitors.Ng: It is necessary to promote the town and the surrounding areas to visitors.

The resorts and chalets are mainly located near the Ulu Geruntum and Ulu Geroh Orang Asli settlements, which require visitors to either use Jalan Sungai Itek or Jalan Pintu Padang to access the area.

Ng, who is also the Perak housing and local government committee chairman, said several developments were taking shape in Gopeng and its surrounding areas.

“The Gopeng roundabout is being upgraded to make it a photo-opportunity location.

“The roundabout is not too busy and locals like sitting there in the evenings. It is being upgraded with a nicer landscape and we are putting up a bit of (info on) Gopeng’s history.”

She said work had started last year and the project was expected to be completed this year.

Ng said a new attraction known as Zahara Garden, located on Jalan Kampung Jelintuh, had opened in May.

Visitors taking photos with the alpacas and Angora sheep at Zahara Garden.Visitors taking photos with the alpacas and Angora sheep at Zahara Garden.

Perfect for photo opportunities, the beautiful garden is also home to alpacas and Angora sheep from Australia.

Owner S. Thanabalan said the animal zone, featuring rabbits, peacocks, chickens and birds, would appeal to children, while there was also space for colouring and games.

Elsewhere, Ng said the Gopeng food court’s roof had been replaced to provide better ventilation and comfort to traders and customers.

She said the food court was seeing more eco-tourists who stop there for meals.

“Some of the famous food in Gopeng include the lai fun (rice noodles), and Mee Curry Ami (at Kampung Pintu Padang),” she added.

In Gopeng, places of interest include the Hoga Gaharu Tea Valley, Gopeng Museum, The Treasure (formerly known as the Herbal Garden) and Museum Tanahsani (a butterfly museum).

From the town area, it is easy to access the various attractions such as the Hoga Gaharu Tea Valley and Gopeng Museum.From the town area, it is easy to access the various attractions such as the Hoga Gaharu Tea Valley and Gopeng Museum.

Ng said eco-tourism operators had raised issues such as the bad condition of the access road leading to the resorts and chalets.

She said the road was originally meant for use by the Orang Asli to get to their villages.

“The road is unable to cope with the number of vehicles that use it, especially four-wheel drives ferrying tourists.

“There are on-going discussions with the Perak Land Office.

“One option would be to identify another access road for long-term use.”

She said the resorts and chalets were mostly built on agricultural land and the land office was in the process of regulating these operators as well.

There are trails in Gopeng to see the Rajah Brooke butterfly.There are trails in Gopeng to see the Rajah Brooke butterfly.

Under the Perak Hotel Enactment for Boarding Houses that takes effect in July, Ng said accommodation providers would need to apply for licence and comply with licensing conditions.

For the first year, she said this would be on a voluntary basis but after that, action would be taken against operators who fail to register their businesses.

“Registration is important because this way, the government will be able to gather data and the Enactment will also (enable it to) manage issues concerning safety, cleanliness and any cause of nuisance.

“There are about 30 operators. Some have built structures on river reserve land and have improper sewage disposal, so we want to make sure all rules and regulations are met,” she stressed.

Ng said the whitewater rafting and glamping sites were drawing locals and also attracting Singaporeans for team-building exercises.

Rafflesia can be found on trails in Gopeng.Rafflesia can be found on trails in Gopeng.

She was pleased that eco-tourism operators were hiring locals, including the Orang Asli, and giving business to food vendors in the area.

Over the past two years, the focus of Ng’s office has been on the upgrading of Gopeng’s infrastructure.

She said upgrading of the drainage system in a few areas known for flash floods, including in Gopeng town, had been carried out.

She also wants to address a few bottleneck issues on Jalan Gopeng, which will start from the town area to the Jalan Simpang Pulai-Cameron Highlands federal route.

The Gopeng roundabout is being upgraded to make it worthy of a holiday snapshot.The Gopeng roundabout is being upgraded to make it worthy of a holiday snapshot.

Ng said the Perak Works Department (JKR) had installed smart traffic lights all the way to Gunung Rapat to alleviate this problem, as the entire stretch was always congested.

She said this was a pilot project which she hoped could ease the congestion, including near the Simpang Pulai toll exit.

“A bottleneck tends to build up on the federal route, at the old shoplot stretch in Kampung Kepayang, during holidays and festive periods.

“JKR has yet to get an allocation to widen the road from there up to Kampar.

“I hope the construction of the West Ipoh Span Expressway (WISE), announced by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad, from Gopeng to Kuala Kangsar, will start as early as August,” she said, adding that she hoped the alternative expressway would help divert some of the traffic.

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