Sunday, January 28, 2007

Istana Kenangan

This is the Istana Kenangan, or the old palace in Kuala Kangsar. It is down the road from the Ubudiah Mosque, and across the street from the Iskandariah Palace, where the royal family of Perak live.

It was originally built in 1931 as a temporary palace for Sultan Iskandar Shah,
after the old palace was torn down so that the current palace, the Iskandariah Palace, could be built. It is a lot smaller than the Iskandariah, being more of a bungalow than a royal palace. It was built by a master carpenter from Penang without using a single nail, and without using any architectural plans. He made it in the shape of a traditional Malay sword, a Kris, in its scabbard, with the Sultan's sleeping quarters in the handle. The entrance doors open horizontally through the floor, in order to maximize space, and for safety, as it is harder to force open a door built that way. The walls are made of woven bamboo, and are painted white, yellow, and black, the colors of the flag of Perak. Needless to say, it is all very skillfully done.

When we went there, we couldn't get in, because it was being renovated. There were piles of old wood sitting just inside the fence, and a couple of Malay workmen sitting around smoking and having lunch. An old Malay guy on a bicycle stopped and talked to Mr. Wong, asked him a few questions about who my wife and I were, then asked him for some money to get something to eat. Mr. Wong, being the kind hearted guy he is, gave him a few ringgit, and the old man bicycled off happily. Before he pedaled away, he gave us a cheery smile and wished us well.

Kuala Kangsar is an interesting place, and one we'd like to explore more when we get a chance.