During our Southern Perak excursion last Sunday, we took a detour to Kampung Baru Coldstream, a new village about 15km south of Bidor town, off Bidor – Teluk Intan federal road.
Coldstream New Village, about 80km from Ipoh, has a very catchy name. Many people mistook the new village to be named after the cool water temperature of the river (Sungai Bidor) that flows through the settlement.
They couldn’t be more wrong as this village got its name from the Coldstream Guards (COLDM GDS), which was a part of the Guards Division, Foot Guards regiments of the British Army.
The 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards regiment was stationed at this high barbed wire fenced-up village circa 1950 during the Malayan Emergency (1948 -1960). Life was very tough then for the villagers but after the state of emergency was lifted, the Perak state government opened up land for tin mining in the vicinity of their village.
There was a glimmer of hope for the villagers, despite the fact that the land was only moderate in tin deposits. At least, they were able to earn a living working in the tin mines as labourers and dulang washers.
However, the collapse of the world tin industry in the early 1980s resulted in all tin mines in the area to close down. Almost overnight, the tin mine workers lost their rice bowl. What to do??
As palongs were dismantled and tin mine companies moved out from the area, the villagers had to figure out a way to sustain their livelihood. Folding up their sleeves and pulling up their socks, they brought out their hoes to toil the land. Combining their effort and energy, they became farmers, working hard day and night, turning barren disused mining land into fertile agricultural fields.
Today, Kampung Baru Coldstream is like the Perak vegetable and fruit agricultural hub, where fruit trees are cultivated on thousands of acres of land. Agriculture is now the village’s primary source of income as the fruits from these orchards are sold domestically and abroad.
For many of these farmers, who also utilise the abandoned mining ponds for rearing fish, they have worked on the land for two generations now, producing papaya, amra, mango, guava, corn, banana, and more. Their children, though, would rather not work in the fields and have found better jobs in the city.
Check out these photos from my recent trip to Kampung Baru Coldstream (GPS Coordinates: N 4.046015°, E101.238200°), under gloomy weather conditions.
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