Kuala Lipis. It used to be the transit point for the transportation of the products collected from the surrounding of River Jelai (Sungai Jelai). The goods were transported by river from as far as Kuala Medang, floated on a raft or small boat to the jetty at Bukit Betong, then by rail to Kuala Lipis or other destination.
Attractions of Bukit Betong
Nowadays, with the availability of a better road system, the river is no longer used. The jetty is left abundant and the railway is of lesser important. Before 1980, railway was used as the main mode of transport. There were 3 daily trains from Chekar Perah to Kuala Lipis. The earlies were at 0630 hrs in the morning. This morning train was scheduled to allow students to attend the school at Kuala Lipis. The returning train was at 1430hrs, after the school sessions. As the number of passengers was high, sometime, all the seats were occupied. If you are not lucky, you may have to stand all the way from Kuala Lipis. What I like about the small station is the buildings that was built by the colonial British. The barn built in 1940s is still in good condition today.
In the heyday of the railway, there were two staff to man the station. I still remember the Indian porter, getting the lanterns ready to light the signalling system.
The other attraction of Bukit Betong is the railway bridge. It is the old fashion bridge built from wrought iron, and the center pillar was constructed from millions of earth-bricks. You can seen the foot path for the pedestrian made from 5 planks of iron without and safety railings. This is the path taken by the villages, young and old to cross the path. Surprisingly, there were no record of anyone slipped and fall to a certain death into the river.
My parent was telling me about the story when the British planes were bombing the bridge in 1941 in the effort to slow the Japanese movement to Singapore.
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Bukit Betong was the center of the Malay administration of west Pahang. Before the arrival of the British Colonial power in the middle of 1800, the Pahang State were divided according to the rivers tributaries. The sultan's represetative, Tok Raja lives at Bukit Betong. He used to have the administrative and judicial power over the Jelai tributaries. Of course, he is of lesser importance now. He does not have any power as he used to before. His position is only as a symbol without any authorities.
Now Bukit Betong had shrank from what it was, a center of the local trade, with about 10 thriving shops to 1. Most people, if there are needs to go to Kuala Lipis will travel by road, bypassing Bukit Betong.
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