I was squeezing my brain to work on a legal submission when Hana called me out to check some photos from a photographer by the name of Umar Mita. It looked as if the photos were taken overseas. However, the small caption underneath the photos read : Chuping, Perlis. I had heard of Chuping, the cane plantation which had a superb landscape. Three days after the quick exchange with Hana, I was on board the bus heading to Jitra for a quick trip to Chuping.
Chuping was the highlight of the trip. I had made it clear to Syidah, former schoolmate that I wanted to shoot the sunrise in Chuping. Before leaving for Chuping, I had been warned by Abang Safwan, a senior from school that Chuping now is not the same old Chuping. The sugarcane plantation had been reduced into rubber plantation. Determined, I had to see it myself to believe it; thus the short trip to Perlis.
Syidah fetched me in Jitra at about 2.30a.m. Not before I made a commotion on the bus as I did not alight the bus as it stopped by the road side in Jitra. How in the world would I know the bus would not stop in the bus station but instead by the main road? After being told off by the bus driver who was eager to speed off to its final destination that was Kuala Perlis, I (still in my baju kurung with one document case, a backpack and a camera bag) waited patiently for Syidah to arrive. Had it not been her phone call asking why not I alighted the bus at the main road, I would have troubled her to drive all the way to Kuala Perlis to fecth me.
We left Syidah’s home at 5am to pick Byetool Husna who would join our adventure to Chuping. Thank goodness, I had a friend who was willing to accompany me to Chuping. Otherwise, I would definitely be lost for the road heading to Chuping was dimly-lighted, to some extent, no light at all. I was as if driving to the endless end with shadow images of rubber trees left and right. In poor light condition, we had to guess whether it was sugarcane plantation or newly-planted rubber trees.
This small town located near Kangar used to be largest sugarcane plantation in Malaysia being it was taken over by rubber estates. It was said that at one point, as the rubber price increased in fold, the land owners opted to plant rubber instead of the seasonal sugarcanes. Now that the rubber price has gone down, the beautiful landscape of the sugarcane plantation has gone too.
Chuping derives its name from the limestone hill known as Bukit Chuping.
We stopped 300meter from Pemeriksaan Penyeludapan post at the trunk road along Chuping.
When the sun rose, I was quite surprised to notice that the only sugarcane plantation that we found had been harvested. The stalks were burnt black meanwhile the leaves were of beige and caramel colours. We had to make do with the harvested sugarcane plantation; the faults were all mine for I did not understand or read enough of Chuping sugarcane plantation. Apparently, the harvest season starts from December to June, no wonder!!
Even the sunrise was a failed capture. It was way too far from where we were. When it set up, it was already bright for a dramatic shot.
The fate of Chuping as sugarcane plantation remains unknown. But the fact that the sugarcane plantation has dwindled tremendously, all I have to say that the hidden jewel of Perlis will be due before time. I travelled hundreds of mile to Chuping and I was disappointed by the sight of rubber plantations. The photos taken by Umar Mita in 2012 were things of a past. In fact, we did not bump into any ponds near Chuping. I suspect it was taken in Timah Tasoh.
Tips: I read somewhere you can visit the sugarcane factory. But I have also read a blog on Chuping that the writer was denied entry as the factory requires supporting letter to endorse your entry. Please go during the right season. Always wise to have a local to guide you around. You may also make a detour to Satun.
Other fact: Chuping is also famous for bird watching.
Since Alyah’s Kisah Hati featuring Remy Ishak was shot in Perlis (also in Timah Tasoh), I’d like to dedicate the song of Kisah Hati by Alyah for you.