After the lovely start to the trip at Melaka, my next stop after a 5h bus ride was a quick one at the less pretty, and more unassuming city of Ipoh in the state of Perak, in the Central/ West part of Peninsular Malaysia. This city was historically built on its famous tin mines and smelters, and was apparently at one point in time in its rich history, one of the wealthiest cities in Southeast Asia. Somewhat sadly, those past glories seem to be long gone, but the city nevertheless still seems to retain a interesting and balanced mix of colonial heritage and edgy Malaysian reality.
You know you're off the tourist track when people no longer speak to you in English by default. It's almost surely Bahasa Melayu
first here in Ipoh, until they realise I'm not particular proficient in the language (just some Bahasa Indonesian lessons to speak of, which is similar). Though I had an interesting encounter with a Chinese auntie at the bus station. I wanted to ask her about the shuttle bus to the other bus station, so I asked in Mandarin "Ni hui jiang hua yu ma?" (Do you speak Chinese?) She shook her
Birch Memorial Clock Tower
I vaguely remember studying about this James Birch guy during History lessons back in secondary school. Unsurprisingly, for the life of me I cannot recall what his significance was.
head and waved me off. I then tried "Ciakap Melayu?" (Do you speak Malay?), to which she looked at me askance, and replied, "Speak English lah!" *lol*.
Anyway, back to Ipoh. It is also home to two famous Chinese food dishes Ipoh hor fun
(rice noodles) and chicken & tao geh
(beansprouts). It is in addition the birthplace of Ipoh white coffee, named so after the colour of the beans after they are roasted using palm oil, to soften the bitterness acerbic to milder Southeast Asian palates. Recently, the restaurant franchise Old Town Coffee that has sprouted in various parts of Malaysia and Singapore has spread Ipoh white coffee to neighbouring parts.
This was just a quick overnighter for me, as I transited on my way to the nearby Cameron Highlands.
Stayed at the Old Town Hotel.
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