July 17, 2011

Bukit Kutu ... interesting story from an Englishman

Bukit Kutu is one of the favourite mountains on our trekking list … a very nice natural trail as well as a clear river to enjoy a cool dip after a long tiring trek. Since we started trekking at Bukit Kutu, we have visited this mountain almost every month.

On 25th JUNE 2011, Steven, Keat, GT Lim, Leong and I decided to trek Bukit Kutu again … we thought it would be as usual … trekking up to the peak and down and then hopefully find some good durians in the jungle. It turned out to be a little more meaningful than we thought. When we reached the base we saw a group of people already getting ready to trek up the mountain. As we were getting our gears ready, we struck up a conversation the group, among them a “Mat Salleh” (westerner). I later found out that his name is Tony Wright. The conversation was fairly general and we then started to trek into the jungle together.

After trekking for a while I asked Tony where he is from and he told me that he is from Plymouth, England. And knowing that he is an Englishman, I told him that he will surely love this mountain because at the peak of the mountain there are remnants of an old colonial bungalow. Then the surprise came … Tony said he knew about the old bungalow at the peak and he has photos of his grandparent (taken back in the 1920s) staying at the bungalow. Now, that is really something ... imagine coming from England to see the place (or what is left of it) where your grandparent once stood. I told Tony that I would be very glad if he can show me the photos when we reach the peak. I have always try to find out more about the remnants of the old bungalow but there isn’t much information I could get from on the internet or other sources.

We continued trekking and I was really looking forward to look at the photos that Tony brought along. About two and a half hours later, I reached the peak together with Leong. We spent some time at the peak and waited for the rest of my group as well as Tony’s group to reach the peak. I soon found out that the other three from my group are not trekking up to the peak and I was not sure how long Tony’s group will take to reach the peak, so, Leong and I decided to trek down. Just about 5 minutes into the descent we met with Tony and his group on the way up. I asked Tony if he could show me the photos he talked about and he quickly took the photos out to show me. Tony took time to explain to me the story behind each photo and what he knew of his grandparent and the old bungalow. I then ask Tony if he could send me a copy of the photos and he promised he will. We exchanged emails and soon parted ways.
The next day I received an email from Tony with photos attached and more information. The black and white photos below were contributed by Tony.

 Photo of the bungalow with Tony's grandfather sitting in front ... see the steps going into the bungalow and see below the same steps as they remain today at the peak of Bukit Kutu.
(Photo contributed by Mr Tony Wright) 

Remnants of the steps at the main entrance of the bungalow.

This is the fireplace (chimney) of the bungalow as it was in the 1920s ... this is the iconic picture as today this chimney still remain standing at the peak of Bukit Kutu.
(Photo contributed by Mr Tony Wright)

The chimney of the bungalow still standing as it is today. This structure has become the setting of many group photos of people visiting the peak of Bukit Kutu today.

The chimney and the main entrance steps.

 Another old photo of the bungalow seen from behind of the big rock at the peak of the Bukit Kutu.
(Photo contributed by Mr Tony Wright)

From his own research, Tony managed to piece together bits and pieces … besides the bungalow, there was also a sanatorium at the peak of Bukit Kutu. Tony has no pictures of the sanatorium but members of the sanatorium were friends of his grandparent and he has a photo of a Sister Sutton and his grandmother taken at the vicinity of the bungalow. Tony told me that the British built rest houses and holiday bungalows all around Malaysia so that government servants like Tony’s (maternal) grandfather can book them for rest and relaxation during holidays and weekends. Tony’s grandfather, Mr Tom Sargent, was a railway construction engineer for FMSR (Federated Malay States Railways) later known as KTMB from 1908 till 1935 when he retired and went back to England. The above photos were taken back in 1921 … 90 years ago! The iconic photo must be the photo of the fireplace and chimney as it still remain standing today and has become the setting for group photo of trekkers visiting the peak of Bukit Kutu.

Photo of Tony's grandmother (sitting) with Sister Sutton (who was working at the sanatorium). You can still find these two big rocks among the overgrown vegetation at the peak of Bukit Kutu.
(Photo contributed by Mr Tony Wright)

 Mr Tony Wright (second from right) showing photos to other trekkers at the peak of Bukit Kutu. The old photos of the bungalow created massive interest among the trekkers.

Apart from Bukit Kutu, Tony travelled to KL, Tanjung Malim, Seremban, JB, Mersing, Melaka, Penang … visiting and matching his grandfather's pictures of places where they either lived or visited during their long stay here many years ago. One can imagine what a wonderful experience this is, in a country which Tony has been visiting since 1988. It has deepened his love, knowledge and understanding immeasurably through this photographic journey to the past.

I am really glad to have met Tony … if not, I would not have learned so much more about Bukit Kutu and about his meaningful journey in Malaysia … thank you very much Tony for the photos and a little bit of history of Bukit Kutu


KC & the Sunshine Runners said...

The right person met you. Thanks for the detailed write-up... KC

Stone Shiek said...

Thanks KC for the good words ... I am really glad to have obtained some insights of Bukit Kutu from the good Englishman.

The trekker, agnes said...

insightful story, source from first hand revelation. thanks shiek

Leo K M said...

Great job, Mr Shiek! Part of the mystery of Bukit Kutu is finally revealed especially the sanatorium. If I am going to write an article for M'sian Nature Society, may I have your approval to show the black & white photos with photo credits to Mr Tony Wright and your blog site, of course?

Stone Shiek said...

Hi Leo .. thanks for reading my blog. I am glad to be able to share the information provided by Mr Tony Wright regarding Bukit Kutu.

Of course you can use the black and white photos should you want to write an article for MNS.

I have the original scans of the 4 black & white photos given to me by Mr Tony Wright ... there are of better resolution. Let me know when you are writing the article.
Contact me at shiekem@unifi.my

Would appreciate it if you can give the necessary credits due :)

Shiek Eng Meng

Leo K M said...

Thank you very much for your assistance. I'll keep in mind & state all credits due!

MNS S'gor branch members are going to B.Kutu next month. I'm mulling to write an article either for our newsletter or The M'sian Naturalist, depending on the material & research after the trip. I believe that the stones structure which was discovered in recent years is the sanatorium as it is situated quite a distance from the bungalows! Makes sense as it housed patients esp. TB-related owing to antibiotics not created until 1943, a regimen of rest & good nutrition was the method for recovery.

Leo Khang Meng
Committee Member/Pathfinders SIG
MNS S'gor Branch

Say Li said...

hi Shiek
I got to know about your pics from Jimmy's article in FB.

I wish to meet Mr Tony Wright in person or email. Can I have his email address?

-Say Li

Stone Shiek said...

Hi Say Li ... I do have his email but I would like to seek his permission first before giving his contact ... so if you can let me know why you want to contact Mr Tony Wright, I will seek his permission ... or maybe ask Tony to contact you :)


Kwai Loh said...

Wonderful, Shiek! For so long time I have been searching already for pictures of the bungalow! Do you know if Tony Wright has reported on the Internet about his other targets?

Stone Shiek said...

Hi Say Li ... I have given Tony Wright's email to Jimmy Chew (Oddstuff) and maybe you can get it from Jimmy :)

Stone Shiek said...

Hi Kwai Loh ... I am not sure if Tony published anything on the internet.

hanza king said...

hi..i am going to Bukit Kutu on the 14& 15/4/12.After reading your article..it will more meaningful ride for me.Thank you sharing this interesting info.

Hanza King

gigaslave said...

great to know the history of this place. so there's something to tell others on our next visit

Subathra said...

Its wonderful to connect the dots to this ruins. Its looks like Tony found the right person to share his story and now we can pass on to others.Keep writing!

MomTom said...

Thank you so much for the photo and this sharing. Absolutely out of history textbook!

cat said...

Thanks for the heartwarming write-up as well as the photos. Priceless information 👍

Haruki said...

Thank you for your article. I was searching for information on the old chimney ruin and found your blog. Very interesting.