Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ipoh 'revisited'

The grand Padang Ipoh

Ipoh Town Hall building

St Michael's Institution

I had the chance to spend the early part of this week in my hometown, Ipoh, to attend a budget review retreat.

Staying and working in KL, it is not very often that I get the opportunity to be in Ipoh during weekdays. Usually, when I go back to visit Emak, I would set off from KL early Saturday mornings. Then by the Sunday afternoon it’s a rush back to KL.

The three days I spent there this time gave me the chance to see Ipoh a bit more and reminisce about old times. The times spent there during childhood.

You know, I may be biased (obviously) but seriously I think Ipoh is the best city in Malaysia to stay in. Ipoh still has that laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. It has lots of greeneries – the biggest parks being the Taman D.R. Seenivasagam (or the Coronation Park as it was originally known as) and of course the Padang Ipoh (with a field that is so green and well kept till today). The traffic is still manageable. The locals are still friendly enough and have time to spare to chat with strangers. And I should add that the streets are clean and tidy, too.

Ipoh has a great history. Located right smack in the middle of tin-rich valley of the Kinta River, it was a town that tin built, so to speak. So much so that during the British Colonial era, Ipoh was the second city of Malaysia. Many rich and famous (mainly rich) must have rode their gleaming British-built cars up and down its grid-iron laid-out roads in those days.

Up until a few years ago, if you were to arrive into Ipoh from the south (from KL direction) via the Federal Highway Route 1, as you approach its outskirt (just before reaching Sungei Rokam/Sungai Raya) you would have noticed a very big, three-pointed Mercedes Benz star atop a limestone hill from afar.

There you have it…the ultimate status symbol of Ipoh.

The city boasts some awesome buildings and architecture from the colonial period which further adds to its grand stature and ambience. These include the magnificent St Michael's Institution, the Ipoh Railway Station, and the Ipoh Town Hall.

Perhaps a special mention is in order also for the not-so-grand but equally significant Masjid India. For this is where I used to visit quite a number of times with my Tok Hussein for prayers. I really looked forward to such trips. Why? Because after prayers To Hussein never missed to treat me to the nice, tasty cendol at the mamak cendol’s kiosk just across the road from the mosque, in front of the Padang Ipoh.

Things haven’t changed much in Ipoh from the 1980s. Not even from the 1970s, I would say.
Sure some new buildings have sprung up here and there. Road systems have been changed a bit (more one way streets now). Some roads have been renamed too, including Ashby Road, where my alma mater (Sek Ren Jenis Kebangsaan Ashby Road) was located. But otherwise, it’s more or less the same old Ipoh as aptly captured by Lat (a local boy himself) in his comics.

Aahh, Ipoh…what a great place to retire, eh?


Abu Imir said...

Yes Yob, I agree too. The food is damn cheap and tasty too. However, the weather has been hotter and lotsa trees planted by the Brits had been chopped off in the name of development. Not to mention a lot of old dilapilated colonial buildings not being maintained. A sad sight to see.

The good news is the biking community is alive and kicking too. Keep on riding.

Ipoh mali... talak sombong punye... maa...

Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

Abu Imir

Yes some big rain trees are gone. So too are some old government quarters (?) in Greentown which have been replaced by the shopping mall.

Cycling that's something to look forward to. I've cycled in Ipoh only once, alone.