Old town: A painting by the Malaysia Watercolour Society paying homage to Ipoh’s famous white coffee.
A Malaysian town famous for local coffee lures an adventure seeker.
Rummaging through old boxes that have been sitting in the corner collecting dust could unleash a gush of nostalgia. As snippets of the past are unearthed, a certain poignant fondness tends to fill the heart. Exploring old towns, too, can ignite similar emotions.
As I hoofed it around the City That Tin Built, the rustic buildings laden with history (and good food) that lined the streets of Ipoh Old Town promised a fruitful heritage and culinary discovery to a keen traveller.
While the past is rarely flawless, it is often romanticised. The famed side of the Kinta River, which grew thanks to the tin rush in the early 1880s, had to be rebuilt after a major fire destroyed half the town. It rode on the second wave of tin rush and earned the title “City of Millionaires”.
When I entered the “Old Concubine” Lane or Jalan Panglima as it is known now, I was reminded of affluent Chinese miners who stashed their lovers here for passionate trysts. Of course, the lane no more hosts such ladies. Instead, rows and rows of shops that served local delights welcomed all who wanted a taste of old-fashioned gastronomic adventure.
Putting up at a classic, old building that was turned into a hotel certainly kick started the trail. Sekeping Kong Heng is not for the faint-hearted. The unique concept of preserving an old building and giving it a new purpose did lead to an exciting stay. The B&B still has the feel of a torn-down shop-house, perfecting the step-back in time for me.