Memories of Malaya in the early 1960's
Mr. John Gardiner wrote a comment on Mr. Paton's photos of the military camp in the end of the 1950's. Here are both pages of Mr. Patons memories of Taiping in the late 1950's: first page and second page.
Mr. Gardiner himself posted some photos of the camp when he was stationed in the early 1960's. Here is his post. Mr. Gardiner send us more pictures and a few stories of his stay in Malaysia, particular in Taiping.
Mr. Gardiner and I have exchanged some emails in which he told some of his experiences and those were too interesting to let them die in history. Thus we post here excerpts of his emails.
All photos on this page are kindly offered to us by Mr. Gardiner and I think they give us a glimpse of Taiping and the life in the camp in the early 1960's. Thank you Jock!
I asked Mr. Gardiner how he had found the Pulau Pangkor website and what he his impressions were:
"I first came across your sight while surfing the net researching for information regarding the 28th Commonwealth Brigades time in Taiping and my old 2 Infantry workshops R.E.M.E or The Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (British Army) to give it its proper title.
And as a young 22 year old Engineer (married with 2 young children) who were back in Scotland. From the first moment I stepped off the train at Taiping Station I fell in love with the place, although I have never been back to Malaya I have never forgotten my time in Taiping I think it was the tranquility. Of the town that attracted me to it and also the people who were so helpful and well mannered to us foreigners from UK and I always admired the customs of the people they taught me a lot about life in general."
Mr. Gardiner's leisure activities took him into the jungle around Taiping:
"Every opportunity I got I would be away chasing butterflies or wild bore stalking or just going out at the back of the Camp to the nearest stream and following it up Maxwell Hill. It helped to keep me fit and the sights were out of this world always aware of the wildlife. Around and keeping a watchful eye open for the wildlife and snakes in particular and no matter how often I climbed that stream no two days were the same especially late afternoon when it rained and no doubt you know how it can rain around Taiping."
For our Ecology team building camps in Taiping, we offer a river trekking behind the Taiping Zoo. It's a great little trek that leads to the Burmese pool. The pool is a small river bed which is a popular place to cool down after a day's work for the local people. In the days that Mr. Gardiner was stationed in Taiping, the pool did existed and in fact he had a funny experience here:
“I can remember on one of my trips I came to a little clearing by the side of the stream and decided to have a roko (smoke). I sat down to enjoy my smoke when all of a sudden I had a funny feeling that I was being watched by someone or something when all of a sudden a long tongue went shooting past my right shoulder it turned out to be a Monitor lizard right at my side! Well you never seen anyone move so fast in all your life."
The river and the pool haven't changed much, as you can see and read here. Mr. Gardiner write about this page: "I enjoyed your story on the trip up the jungle stream to the Burmese pool I could not have described it better myself many a happy hour or two I spent trekking the same area around those foothills."
"The photo (above) had a great composition and was so unusual to see the gardens from that angle, seeing the hills slopping down into Kamunting and the water on the lake just like a sheet of glass was so inviting also the mist lying between the hills just as I remember this place, it was in that area Kamunting end of the hills I liked best climbing the jungle stream
To be rewarded after about twenty minutes climbing an ice cold dip in the pool, and to sit and watch the Butterflies flutter around in the sky it was so peaceful and quiet."
On a comment of me that wild boar are shy, Mr. Gardiner wrote:
"Peter I couldn’t but Laugh when you said that the Wild Boar are so shy, well I had the occasion to go on a wild boar hunt during my time in the far east and when we came across one and cornered it in a ravine it turned around and came at us from out of the underbrush doing about 100mph and our tracker shot his big bored gun, and at first we thought he had missed the Boar as it continued passed us but finally came to rest about 50 yards further on down the track the tracker hadn’t missed the boar in fact he hit it square on between the eyes it just shows how fast wild boar can travel and I was very glad I wasn’t standing in front of him."
Mr. Gardiner spend a lot of time with local families and in one of his mails he wrote about this picture:
"Yes that is me with the Singh family back in 1962. I spent a lot of time with them both in Taiping, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. I was very sad to leave them when I left for home although i did however meet up with little David when his dad sent him on a European trip as a gift on graduation from University. His greeting words to me where UNCLE JOCK I can tell you honestly brought tears to my eye's."
Even now, more then 40 years later Mr. Gardiner wonders:
"In our Workshop we had quite a lot of local people working for the British Army and I often wonder what happened to them when our Brigade moved to Malacca Some of them did go with us but I am sure a lot stayed behind at Taiping. "
Mr. Gardiner wrote his own comment on Mr. Paton's photos, read them here. Of course local Malaysians have their memories about Taiping in those days, Insun Sony Mustapha lives nowadays in Lumut, he too shared some of his memories with us.
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