Ipoh is a great, compact city – it has everything you need, but packs it all into a very manageable size. It’s a gourmand and nature-lover’s paradise. Escaping to the many attractions like the beach, the hill resorts, mangrove reserve and the caves in the limestone outcrops, are all within an hour’s reach. Overseas friends enjoy the agritourism that is easily accessible.
What Do You Miss Most when you’re Away?
Reading the newspapers over a kopi tarik while waiting for my breakfast of roti canai or tosai, followed by char kway teow, in a coffee-shop.
What’s The First Thing You Do When You Return?
I go out to find some excellent local food. First stop, Funny Mountain Soya Bean in Jalan Theatre for tau fu fah. If I am up early, fresh toddy from a nursery in Gunung Rapat – it’s for medicinal purposes.
Where’s The Best Place To Stay?
Ipoh has a range of hotels from budget to boutique hotels.
Where Would You Meet Friends For A Drink?
At dusk, the Iskandar Polo Club for the stunning views of the multi-coloured hues of the setting sun against a backdrop of the limestone hills. It is “Members Only” so hang around the paddocks or clubhouse for an invitation.
Or Berlin’s Bier Houz in Greentown’s Business Centre for a selection of imported German beers.
Where Are Your Favourite Places For Lunch?
I hate places with slow service or loud music. The following are favourite haunts: Moven Peak in the centre of Ipoh, Hollywood Restoran in Canning Garden, Simpang Tiga for Indonesian cuisine, banana-leaf and duck curry in Samy’s Restoran in Chemor. Or for curry mee, try Keng Nam coffee-shop. Or just join any queue in front of a noodle shop at lunchtime. I’ve never been disappointed.
And For Dinner?
The food courts at about 6 p.m. No vendors have a greater understanding of food than those in Ipoh. They are dotted around town. No trip to Ipoh is complete without a sample of Ipoh Chicken taugeh, for supper. Almost all of Ipoh’s food places are excellent value – from RM3.00 a dish.
Where Would You Send A First-Time Visitor?
Emerald Lake, just past Jalan Kuala Kangsar Ipoh. For a walk, try the Heritage Trail for an interesting trip into memory lane, past architectural structures with fascinating origins. To the Gunung Rapat market on a Saturday morning for the sights, sounds and smells of a typical bustling market whilst being serenaded by the music played by musicians from a nearby home for the Blind. Wander the traditional medicine lanes in old town where dried seafood, ginseng and bird’s nests tickle the senses from open-fronted shops. There are several interesting shops around the main market in the centre of the city that specialise in various products such as those that make the lion’s heads, in lion dancing.
Or have a day out to visit the Sam Poh Tong caves, Gua Tempurung, and Matang Mangrove Reserve.
What Would You Tell Them To Avoid?
Public Transport or Taxi?
Public transport is very bad in Ipoh, but without a car, there is little choice but to use the taxis. They are not cheap anymore and the minimum charge may be RM10. Taxis never use the meter so a price has to be negotiated at the start of the journey. Be prepared to pick up additional passengers on the way to your destination.
Handbag or Moneybelt?
Definitely moneybelt. There are several reports of bag-snatching by people on motorbikes: be vigilant everywhere, keep your bags in sight always, and be careful when walking along the kerb. Be streetwise.
What Should I Take Home?
Pomeloes from the pomelo stalls opposite the Sam Poh Tong cave temple, groundnuts from Menglembu, kicap cair Cap Budak Terbang and kicap pekat Cap Orkid, available from most grocery shops, wooden clogs from the main market and bespoke suits from Sin Tit tailor along Jalan Brewster.
And If I’ve Only Time for One Shop?
If in the centre of Ipoh, head to Parkson Grand, where you’ll find all the top brands under one roof. Or else, try Jusco, in the outskirts.