Tuesday, October 17, 2017


It's been awhile since I wrote my last story. Time flew by, far too quickly. I was occupied with other activities that required my attention. Today, I tell myself that I need to spend some time to myself and continue writing as it's relaxing and helps to sharpen my memory.

I'm now recalling some of my experiences when my husband and I were producing the documentary film for the Perak State Government.

Something interesting and extra-ordinary happened when we were at Bukit Larut and this, I will relate in the next post - Part 2 Bukit Larut Close Encounter.

A Film Production House
The Company we incorporated (a combination of my husband's name and mine) specialized in the production of documentary films for the State Governments, Statutory Bodies, and Corporate organisations in Malaysia.

We produced more that 25 major documentary films, and several short films.

Scripting, cinematography, directing, were my husband's forte, while I complemented his work with editing, music compositions for sound tracks, and post production works.

I wrote the lyrics, and sang the opening theme songs in several tourism films that we produced. It was nostalgic for me, as my involvement in this line of business meant that I did not totally divorce myself from the arts. The wonderful change was that, I was no longer in-front of the camera.

We traveled to different States, filmed in numerous locations in towns, remote places, jungles, seas, on roads, in boats, and from helicopters. We touched base with the people from different walks of life, that we would never know otherwise. We had great times, and filming was more a family vacation as it often coincided with the school holidays, so that our daughter could be with us.

(All pictures featured here are actual snapshots from the film on Perak that we produced).

Perak documentary films
In 1989, we were assigned by the Perak State Government to produce two documentary films - one on tourism, and the other on investment promotion. The films were dubbed in 6 foreign languages with the objective of enticing foreign tourists and investors to visit and invest in Perak.

The story-line written by my husband for the tourism film, was about 3 young women of different ethnic backgrounds - Malay, Chinese, and Indian. They were close friends and had not seen each other for some time. They decided to spend their holiday together exploring different parts of Perak. They had the time of their lives, free and undisturbed. The theme was to convey a subtle message that Perak was a safe destination for all - even for 3 unaccompanied young women.

Filming & locations 
Filming was not confined to tourism locations around the sea, jungles, lakes, caves and waterfalls. The film highlighted other aspects of Perak - its historical backgrounds, heritage, people, cultures, costumes, food, gourmets etc. The weather was mostly kind to us throughout - something most essential for good cinematography.

Crews and casts
The crews and casts got along well, which made filming enjoyable for everyone. Schedules were hectic, as the casts were only available for two week's filming. So, there were no breaks in between locations. Although tiring, everyone was eager to fulfill their obligations to return home without delay, even though this meant that the two weeks of bonding would come to an end.

Lata Iskandar Waterfall - Tapah
We traveled in a convoy in the early morning from Kuala Lumpur, and headed for Pangkor. There were several stop-overs along the way.

The camera rolled its first morning shots with scenes focusing on Lata Iskandar Waterfall and the surrounding forests. The scenery provided a beautiful backdrop, as the girls teased each other
by the river side.

Kellie's Castle
We then proceeded for Kellie's castle. It stood elevated and distinct from a distant. As we approached the castle, I noticed that the place seemed run down, and abandoned. In a way it was ideal for us, as we were able to commence filming without any hassle. It was an amazing experience for the girls, as they stood at the edge of the rooftop while the gentle breeze cooled them down.

The castle was built by William Kellie Smith "as a testament of his love for his wife". Sadly she died before the castle was completed. When filming of the place ended, I explored every nook and corner of the dilapidated building, out of curiosity. I imagined the sadness that surrounded the castle, and his sorrow in not being able to carry his beloved wife across the threshold.

Many years later, my family and I visited the place again, and noticed pleasant changes had taken place. The castle was restored, and turned into a tourist destination. Surely, William Kellie Smith and his family, would have been happy to know that the castle had served its purpose, and made many visitors happy.

Teluk Intan
It was a quaint-looking place, simple and undeveloped. However, the people there were friendly, and hospitable. As we began filming, curious onlookers began to gather to see the excitement of how filming was taking place. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the attention and the sudden limelight.

It was amazing to see right before my eyes a mini replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I had never imagined that this unique place actually existed. Everything in this place was cheap - food, clothes, handicrafts, etc. compared to the prices in the city. So, it was no surprise that everyone was tempted to do what little shopping they could, after filming completed at this venue.

We then adjourned for the next destination. By the time we reached Lumut, it was almost dusk, and time to freshen up for dinner, and a well-earned sleep.

The late Sultan Azlan Shah

Here we were privileged to film the late Ruler of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, and his family. He was officiating the launching of the Annual Water Sports, participated by several countries.

The  late Sultan "formerly a Supreme Court Judge, was the pride of the people". He was warm and kind to his people, and judging by the way the crowd reached out for him, they were extremely proud of their Ruler.

My favourite shots were those of tiny terrapins as a hundred of them were let loose to find their way into the sea. Surprisingly,

Lumut turned out to be a very interesting experience for everyone. Here, we also filmed several historical sites that we were not aware of.

A snake expert
The following morning, arrangements were made for an early filming session with a man known by the locals as the "snake man" for his expertise in taming snakes. This day, I excused myself and stood at an extreme corner with my eyes half closed, blurring my vision. Later when I edited the film, I did just the same. There are more dramatic shots in the film, which I am not keen to upload here, as snakes are certainly not my favourite.

This was my maiden trip to Pangkor and I was really looking forward to this moment. The island is accessible by ferry, and the ride was pleasant. There were fishing villages along the way, and as the ferry moved along, beautiful scenery shots were taken, as the girls enjoyed their ride.

Boats were hired to capture different shots of the island, and many secluded shores. The sea waters of dark green and blue in colour, were crystal clear, clean and unpolluted.

No wonder there were many tourists vacationing in different corners of the island. The Pan Pacific resort was then fully booked as it was a peek period, and reservations were made many months in advance. Pangkor earned its reputation  internationally, as an undisturbed haven for hibernating.

The next destination familiar to all was Ipoh. It was not as busy then as it is today. There were lesser cars, and roads were lined with matured trees providing the environment with a natural cooling effect.

The former Chief Minister
Many activities within and around Ipoh were filmed to showcase its facilities, recreations, and activities that were available for locals and foreigners to partake - including a stud farm for horses.

At the Polo Club the following morning, we filmed the former Chief Minister, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib, enjoying a game of polo, and some shots were taken of his children riding.

In the evening, a cultural dance was staged for filming purposes. Together, a display of Perak's exotic food, and other specialties. These were hosted by the Menteri Besar at his Residence. When filming wrapped up for the evening, we were treated to a feast, and afterwords for the next few days I felt guilty for having overindulged.

Tambun Inn
During the few days of filming in Ipoh, our accommodation was at Tambun Inn. It was a small 3-star hotel, without much facilities, but sufficient for our purpose. All we needed was a good night's rest after a tiring day of filming, which unfortunately we did not get.

The service was fine and the staff were obliging. However, the only complain we had was that none of us could get proper sleep. After midnight until the wee hours of the morning, there were knocking sounds, and  scratching, then of children giggling, and running around the corridors.

The following day, we mentioned this to the management and no one seemed surprised.  Apparently, the Inn faces the cemetery, and occasionally there were unusual sounds, and other guests have  complained of seeing uninvited guests, even in their rooms.

Kuala Kangsar

The Royal town is a short distant from Ipoh. We had an early start so that we could wrap up as much, before proceeding to our next destination. The most prominent shots filmed here was surely the Royal Palace with its grandeur. Other shots taken were the Ubudiah Mosque, Kuala Kangsar Museum, Pasir Salak, etc.

The town holds fond memories for many as Kuala Kangsar Malay College was where many of Malaysia's renowned personalities received their education. In my early years before becoming a recording artist, I was invited to judge a Song Competition here, and later obliged the audience with a song. I met some nice people then, and wonder where they are today.

We then arrived in Taiping where beautiful shots were taken around the lake and within the vicinity. Taiping zoo was well maintained, and its occupants seemed content, and well fed.

When we completed filming here, and as we were heading for Bukit Larut, I was shocked to see that the left side of my jeans was soaked with blood. I thought that I was injured, but I was not in pain. I quickly got out of the car and I screamed in fright, when two huge well-fed leeches dropped off my legs, on to my feet. Obviously, they were hitching a ride from the Zoo!

From here we proceeded to Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill). The story on "Close Encounter at Bukit Larut" is now featured as a Part 2 story - in the next post. 

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the time that we spent, filming in Perak. I feel truly grateful and proud that we have been Blessed with a creative line of business and livelihood, that we both loved, and regarded as hobbies!



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