To celebrate the homecoming of my bestie who is currently living in London, we took on a trip to Ipoh after a diva-ish stay at the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Since we wanted to have a hearty meal at Contago Restaurant of Majestic Hotel, we left Kuala Lumpur for Ipoh at 2.00pm using the ETS train. One way train costs RM35.00. It was my first time travelling to Ipoh using the train. After the weekend stay, I found the train is the best mode of transportation if you want to visit the old town and the many hipster cafes around Ipoh. Also, worth to mention, we paid between RM1.00 – RM3.00 for all the Grab car rides travelling within Ipoh due to Hari Malaysia promo rewards.
A Heritage Stay @ Sarang Paloh Heritage Stay
On our arrival in Ipoh, we headed to our heritage stay which was pre-booked by Amira. Sarang Paloh Heritage Stay is located within 10 minutes’ walk from Ipoh Train Station.
The Straits Chinese painting @ Sarang Paloh Heritage Stay
We found the heritage stay located next to the event hall. The lady who entertained us was one grumpy old lady. Despite one of the websites online stated the room can fit 3 persons, the lady asked for an extra charge on the third person as there were three of us. The extra charge was for them to put the mattress on the floor.
We were fine with the extra charges until she proposed to bring us to have a look at the rooms available. She told us she might be able to upgrade us since it was Malaysia Day. After seeing the family room which we liked so much, she suddenly pushed us to accept the deluxe double room with a garden view without insisting on the extra charges. So much of a second thought. She also refused to get an extra towel, something I find odd. It’s just a towel and it would not harm them in any way especially when they are not even fully booked that weekend.
The spiral staircase we all loved!
Getting Lost @ Concubine Lane
We later went to the famous Concubine Lane (Panglima Lima) of Ipoh. So that you know, there are also two other related lanes, which are known as the Wife Lane (Lorong Hale) and the First Concubine Lane (Market Lane). These concubine lanes were believed to be where the tycoons hid their concubines and mistresses. Since we did not any better, we ended up at the First Concubine Lane posing in front of the mural art wall and almost empty street past 5 pm.
We ventured out on the streets of old buildings and got lost until were tired. Most of the buildings have been refurbished without injuring the old architecture.
Karat Café, Ipoh
Then, we took the Grab to Karat Café, for a nostalgic ambient café for dinner. Despite being listed as one of the must visit cafés in Ipoh, the food especially the asam pedas was not to my liking. I had to wait for more than 30 minutes because the chef forgot to prepare my order. By the time my meal arrived, my friends had finished their meals. Hopefully, it was a one-off occasion. For the classic ambience, I definitely recommend visiting. But the food is not necessarily good.
Gerbang Malam, Ipoh
From Karat Café, we took the Grab car to Gerbang Malam where many cheap stuff are being sold. The Gerbang Malam is located near a row of shop lots famous for beansprout chicken. Since those are non-halal Chinese food, I cannot say much about Ipoh’s frenzy over chicken. Ayam halus, ayam kasar, ayam taugeh etc. as I read on the notice board.
Exploring the Kopitiam Quarters of Ipoh
The next day (Sunday), we had a plan to visit Pasar Loken. Since everyone woke up slightly after 8.30am, we had to miss Pasar Loken on this trip. Amira and I decided to pay a visit to the white coffee area of Ipoh where the the original kopitiams of the famous white coffee brand are located. They are frequented by Chinese for some of the food served are non-halal. We thought buying kopi bungkus is still acceptable. So, why not! One of Amira’s local friend suggested the Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong at Jalan Bandar Timah.
Of all the thing, I did not expect to find a halal mee goreng stall in front of a non-halal kopitiam. Here, we met Ali, the owner of Ali Mee Goreng who has been selling mee goreng for the past 30 years. According to him, he cooked for most dignitaries who visited Ipoh. Sometimes, it is difficult to find his stall at Persiaran Bijeh Timah because he would be busy catering food for events. Good business for Ali! If you want to try a plate of damn good mee goreng, try to make your round at Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong the next time you are in Ipoh.
New Hollywood Restaurant @ Canning Garden
Our friend, Solha did not approve of us buying the drinks from the non-halal eatery. Well, your travel buddy has all sort of preferences. But there’s always give and take. To be fair to her, we brought her for a breakfast at the New Hollywood Restaurant at Canning Garden, which somewhat reached her high standard. If waiting for more than 30 minutes for your breakfast to arrive is your thing, give it a try! The food was worth the wait though. I love the Chakoi, Roti Goyang, Char Kuey Teow and Chee Cheong Fun. Remember, always be willing to share a table with other restaurant patrons! We sat with one amazing couple and shared some stories with them.
Mural’s Art Lane @ New Town, Ipoh
Later, we went to the Mural’s Art Lane at New Town of Ipoh. And boy, I really love the street art of Ipoh for they depict the culture of Ipoh or Malaysia as a whole.
Eat the Tau Foo Fah!
While in Ipoh, you have to eat the tau foo fah! It’s a soy bean pudding usually served with a clear sweet syrup or palm sugar. It’s my favourite dessert! At first, we wanted to try the one near Concubine Lane. Then, I noticed a stall with many people queuing for the tau foo fah and soy drinks. The name of the stall is Tai Soo No. 1 Ipoh Famous. It was just a short stop before our pre-book Han Chin Pet Soo guided tour for a glimpse of life in Hakka miners’ club. We were lucky to be able to book for the tour, which receives a limited number of guests every day.
Han Chin Pet Soo – The Hakka Miners’ Club
To be honest, I did not know of this place before my visit to Ipoh. I happened to know about it from the brochures that were given to us by Sarang Paloh Heritage Stay. We wanted to kill the time and be indoor because of the scorching hot sun. The tour surprisingly was very interesting and hands-on. The guide had vast information with the history of the Hakka Miners’ Club and the mining industry once prospered in Ipoh.
Yasmin @ Kong Heng
Yasmin @ Kong Heng is a museum tribute to film director, an artist who had passed on. Every Malaysian of my age can still remember her heart-wrenching TV ads and few movies that touched the core of the Malaysian culture. As the rain poured outside, we spent at least an hour watching the re-run of the TV ads and enjoying the exhibits that consist of Yasmin Ahmad’s personal belongings, her famous quotes, dance move and poems.
Hunting Ais Kepal @ Concubine Lane
We returned to the Concubine Lane to try the ais kepal and other variety of sweets and drinks sold at the narrow alley of the Concubine Lane.
Apparently, Ipoh is also famous for the caramel pudding served at the kopitiams!
Nellis Café, Ipoh
This restaurant is recommended by our hotel. I was close on Saturday that we arrived. But it was open on Sunday. Although it was close to closing time, we managed to place our order and hang around the café while waiting for our ETS train to Kuala Lumpur.