Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Hidden Heritage of Ipoh @ Perak

When people tell you, "Ipoh is just a boring old town for retirees." Do not believe them!

The capital of Perak has often been overlooked by travellers heading to more popular cities like Penang or KL or Melaka. The underestimated city is always given an investment of a mere chicken rice lunch stopover. And as I write this, I am filled with guilt for being oblivious about Ipoh's attractions when I make my Chinese New Year trips back to my father's hometown year in and year out.

The ex-mining city is not allowing those injustice anymore. Ipoh is stepping up its game to be one of the main players in Malaysian tourism. In 2016, Ipoh is already listed as the 6th hottest place to visit in Asia by Lonely Planet and in 2017, Perak emerged as the 9th best region to visit in the WORLD!
Hello Ipoh!
So your journey to the internationally renowned destination (just after Hokkaido, Shanghai, Jeonju, Can Dao and Hong Kong according to Lonely Planet) can start from KL Sentral via the ETS train at only a mere cost of RM35.
Going to Ipoh on the ETS train
Only a little more than 2 hours to reach Ipoh Railway Station

The Ipoh Heritage Trail
Ipoh is blessed with one of the richest heritage in Malaysia. Ipoh faded from its glorious days as a mining town when tin ore price dropped in the early 1980s. Nearly forgotten, I must say Tourism Perak did a fantastic job in unearthing the stories once again for the appreciation of not only our future generation but also international tourists. When in Ipoh, remember to follow the Ipoh Heritage Trail which will immerse you in awe. 
Follow the Ipoh Heritage Trail

The Lonely Ipoh Tree, Ipoh Railway Station, Ipoh City Hall and the Ipoh High Court
In front of the Ipoh Railway Station, stands the 'Lonely Ipoh Tree', a commemoration of how Ipoh got its name. Ipoh got its name because the land was home to the Ipoh (Epu) trees. ITs sap was used as arrow and dart poison by natives long ago which is said to have contributed to victories in wars against enemies with even canons! The poison is effective in paralyzing its victims. 

The tree is said to be lonely because it is the only one in the city now and even birds keep a distance from it because of its poison.
Finding shade under the Lonely Ipoh Tree
The Ipoh tree is guarded by three white heritage buildings that are built by the same British government architect, A. B. Hubback. The colonial style buildings are pieces of European influence in Malaya. The grandeur of the Neo-classical buildings garners respect from its observers. They make perfect props for pensive photoshots or wedding photographs.
The Ipoh City Hall
The east end of the building was the Post and Telegraphs Office
The Ipoh High Court
The Concubine Lane
An alley that was once full of vice, started off by being an opium den and then an area to cage mistresses of the rich tin miners. Mistresses, although not the legal spouse, were more precious and had more pride as they had their men eating out of the palms of their hands. Today, Concubine Lane is a delightful place for dainty tau fu fah stalls, hipster cafes and knick knack shops. 
Concubine Lane where the mistresses were kept
Ding Feng Tau Fu Fah is said to rival the famous Funny Mountain Tau Fu Fah
Try the Teochew Tau Fu Fah that is eaten in layers with brown sugar, sitting on stocky stools. Only RM2 per bowl
Most of the shops here have been transformed into souvenir shops and eateries

Imagine ladies waving down to their lovers with hankies from these olden windows
Look for oval emblems stuck on the wall which are the 'fire insurance policy' of old times. 

Boutique Hotel Sekeping Kong Heng was Once An Opera House Hostel
This place where opera performers once had their rest in the 1920s is reincarnated into a famous boutique hotel called Sekeping Kong Heng. The hotel articulated the pre-war building with contemporary minimalist interior. Its peeled walls and beautifully distressed wooden windows make the most awesome backdrop for a nostalgic shot. With some crawler plants thrown in the equation, prepare to receive a bunch of likes on FB for the post. The building is preserved so well that I could clearly imagine my grandfather drinking coffee here with darker and more hair!
Above the restaurant is the famous boutique hotel Sekeping Kong Heng
When time stood still
Backdrop your photograph with these peeled walls and distressed wooden windows 
Weathered building of beauty
Further behind the hotel is Kong Heng Square Artisan Market.
An interesting flea market with lots of modern and olden knick-knacks sold
These precious heritage buidlings
A walk back in time
Arlene House
Arlene House was built by the last kapitan of Perak and Malaya. Situated in the vicinity of Sekeping Kong Heng, this building was used as headquarters cum trading store for tin mining, plantations and revenue farm activities. 
Arlene House is now a historical heritage and iconic landmark in Ipoh

Han Chin Pet Soo
This was and still is the recreational place for the old Hakka tin miners. Here, they gather for a good time of games and such. There is also a legitimate casino in the club. Although number of members have declined due to old age, the club is still functioning and will be preserved as a museum after the last membership. 
The Hakka Tin Miner's Club

Hor Yan Hor Museum
The famous Hor Yan Hor herbal drink hails from Ipoh too! Founder dr Ho Kai Cheong moved in to this building with his family and established a modest herbal tea business where a multitude of herbs were dried in a large wok over stove. When the family relocated to their new factory in Jalan Kuala Kangsar in 1954, the shop was left to become a storage facility-cum-retail store. In 2015, the building is refurbished and turned into Hor Yan Hor's museum.
Hor Yan Hor's original place of establishment
Learn the legacy of Hor Yan Hor

Of Pomelos, Taugehs, Tau Fu Fas and Kueh Teows
Ipoh is bestowed with waterfalls of life that makes anything the water touches sweet and smooth. The pride and joy of this state is the yield from its soil that is irrigated by its mineral rich water. Ipoh is surrounded by limestone mountains which produces water that is one of a kind. Its pomelos are sweet with every burst of its sac. Ipoh's bean sprouts are unrivaled. They are stubby, succulent and crunchy. Becareful of tau fu fahs and kuey teows here as they can be so smooth that it slips into your throat!
Ipoh pomelos are the sweetest in all of Malaysia
 Fat, juicy and crunchy Ipoh Taugeh
 SmoothTau Fu Fah
 Smooth Ipoh Hor Fun (Kuey Teow Soup)

Ipoh White Coffee
The Sun Yoon Loong (SYL) coffee shop has been the favourite joint of the Japanese soldiers during World War II in 1942 to 1945. The rivalry between SYL and Nam Heong (coffee shops are just opposite each other) has prevailed until today. Both have mass produced their white coffees. It is said that SYL is the originator of white coffee although Nam Heong started mass producing and marketing it first.
Sun Yun Loong White Coffee

Chinese Biscuits
When in Ipoh, do not miss the opportunity to stalk up on traditional Chinese biscuits like sek kei ma, heong peng, lou poh peng and tau sa peng. These sweet biscuits make great breakfast, snack for afternoon tea and just a little delicious something to munch after dinner.
Remember to get Ipoh's Chinese biscuits home

Kinta River
The Kinta River has been a natural boundary that separates the new town and the old town. It is also now a romantic place for an evening stroll. Along the river, there are interesting cafes and stalls that liven the stretch of illuminated river banks. Enjoy the river scene on wheels as there are bicycles for rent. 
The LED lights illuminating the Kinta River
Ejoy the Kinta River on wheel
Biking in groups 
Our family 4WD
Kiddies are not left out too!

Kek Look Tong Cave
If meditation is your cup of tea, there is a lost garden behind the Kek Lok Dong Cave in Gunung Rapat for you to perform the mind cultivation. This cave has a natural air conditioner. Infinite cool wind will blow at the mouth of the cave which will sooth any harried soul. The gardens after the cave are ethereal and seems nearly fit for divine beings. 
Scenic garden at Kek Lok Dong Cave
The lotus garden so divine
Unlimited supply of cool and fresh air

Breathtaking view of 4-seasoned vegetation
I love PERAK!
Thank you Ipoh!

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