I grew up in this little village. By the time I was born however, it was a town whose famed tin mines were closing, tin prices were falling and it became known as a ‘dead’ city – one where people started heading to retire.
Yeah, my childhood was exciting.
In the ’80s and early ’90s while I was growing up, there wasn’t a MacDonald’s in town until I was in my tween years; 7-11 only came to town much, much later and we only had 2 or 3 major malls. If you can call them that.
However, Ipoh is not without its small town charms (I still like to think of it as a small town, although it earned its title as a city in 1988).
I left Ipoh in 1994 when I headed off to further my education. I’m only 2 hours away now, and really, I should head back more often.
This is why.
1. The food. Ask any Malaysian what they know about Ipoh, and food will be the first thing that pops out of their mouths. The famous ‘Ipoh Sar Hor Fun’ – flat white noodles served in soup with shredded chicken and prawns, is a must-have. I know, that sounds weird to many of you with Western palettes. but believe me, this stuff, is GOOD.
2. Ipoh white coffee. ‘White coffee’ is an oxymoron isn’t it? You’d be saying, dude, coffee is BLACK. Not Ipoh coffee though. The coffee beans are roasted with palm-oil margarine and served with condensed milk. The name derives from a direct translation of its Cantonese name (yes, we are pretty literal in these parts). The term ‘white’ is used to describe the roasting process (adding nothing to it), rather than its appearance. People? This is delicious. Just sayin’.
3. The architecture. It’s just amazing. Looky here, the railway station.
4. The limestone caves. They are truly stunning. I’ve been many times, and it’s never failed to make me go wow, each time.
The Sam Poh Tong Buddhist Temple, built within the limestone cave. Image Source
5. My school. I had a lot of fun. Well, most of the time. Oh, and I learned a few things here. I think. Ahem.
6. Michelle Yeoh. You may have heard of her. You know, that martial arts lady in films such as Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Memoirs of Geisha, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. I met her in 1983 when I was 7, and she had just won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant. For some reason, that memory has burned itself into my mind. She’s inspirational, kick ass and gorgeous. She’s put Ipoh on the map.
7. Ipoh Swimming Club. I spent many hours here, the local family club. We swam, played, ate, hung out, grew up here. Good times.
Image Source (this is the only picture I could find of the club, back in the early ’60s – it looks much the same still!)
8. My late grandmother. My childhood is filled with memories of my grandmother, and much of my early life, defined by her presence and how much she was a part of it. When I think of Ipoh, I think of my grandmother. I remember visits to the market with her, watching her cook, and allowing her to slather rice powder on my face (she believed it would give me beautiful skin). Alas, I don’t have digital pictures of her to share.
9. Our dogs. My parents replaced us with dogs. Just kidding. Okay, half-kidding. I love that they keep my folks company and happy. And they’re pretty awesome, and always a good reason to head back for a visit.
10. My parents. No explanation needed.
One interesting fact about your hometown. Go!