Han Chin Pet Soo is open! Book now at www.ipohworld.org/reservation
Han Chin Pet Soo is open! Book now at www.ipohworld.org/reservation

May 2010

The Ipoh Town Hall

By |2010-05-31T08:10:50+08:00May 31st, 2010|Categories: ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories, Natural Heritage|Tags: , , , |

Designed by A B Hubback, who also designed the Ipoh Railway Station, this work-of-art was completed in 1916. The east end of the building was used as the Post and Telegraphs Office in 1928. This building is still used today – be it for concerts, wedding banquets, official functions, etc. It’s also had some restoration work done over the years. At present, its neighbour the (former) Post Office is going through a much needed ‘make-over’.

We do hope this splendid work-of-art lives on for many more years……

” Tau Foo Far ” from Nam Foong Coffee Shop 南风茶室之豆腐花 – A taste from the past

By |2010-07-04T00:28:56+08:00May 28th, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , |


         Bush Radio                       Marble Table                           Wooden Chairs


Besides being a home to my family, 188 Hugh Low Street was also once a coffee shop.

In 1945, an English man who was working and staying in Batu Gajah, retired and planned to return to England for good. He has a collection of marble tables and wooden chairs in his rented house. Unable to bring them along, he gave them away to the villagers nearby.

Dad got some tables and chairs and hired a small lorry to transport them to his newly rented shop in Ipoh. He bought a Bush Radio from a second hand dealer a few years later. Two hanging fans and fluorescent lamps were added to complete the ‘old world charm’ look. And voila, Nam Foong Coffee Shop南风茶室 was born!

Nam Foong is famous for its tau foo far, served with essence of almond in a small porcelain bowl. They are served either warm or chilled. It was sold at 5 cents a bowl in the 40s and 30 cents during the 60s.

It was hard work to make tau foo far. First, soya beans were soaked before being placed in between 2 round stone slabs to grind them. It is then cooked in a big wok using slow fire. Once it is boiled, it is filtered and poured into wooden tubs. Roasted lime stone powder is added to give it the right texture. Finally, they were scooped into hundreds of porcelain bowls.

Dad could take the easy way out by cooking gula Melaka or rock sugar to go with tau foo far, like what you are getting nowadays. But he will have none of this. To him, tau foo far is best eaten with essence of almond and nothing can convince him to think otherwise!

To produce the aromatic and sweet essence of almond call for skill. They were steamed and pounded to extract the essence which if done incorrectly, will give a bitter taste instead.

In those days, everything was done by hands. No machine is use, unlike now. The work was done by my parents and paternal grandma from night till dawn when everyone was sound asleep.

And do you know that the outcome is not the same every day? Dad was very strict with the end result. He will not settle for anything less. If he was satisfied with the texture, he will sell them. Otherwise, he would just pour them away and for that day, he will sell the normal stuff like coffee or toasted bread only.

The best soya beans came from Indonesia and Vietnam. Different batch of beans from the same source yield different results. The secret lay in choosing the right beans and using the right amount of each ingredient. It was a skill he learned from paternal grandpa who is very skillful in making soya bean products.

Soon words spread around about the smooth and aromatic tau foo far . Before long, it sold very well and on a good day, almost 200 bowls were sold. Patrons would park their cars near the shop to have a taste of this delicious dessert because back then, Dad would not allow take away in plastic bags. He insisted the tau foo far to be served in porcelain bowls to bring out the best in taste, aroma and texture.

A myriad of customers came in for this dessert. My elder brother’s headmaster, who is a Christian brother at Sam Tet School, occasionally cycled over for a few bowls in the hot afternoon. He came in his white robes and all!

Then there is the old blind masseur who roamed the town offering his service. When he called it a night, he would drop in for a bowl or two. Whenever I saw him coming, I would quickly ran and squatted under tables or hid behind doors because the sight of him wearing big dark glasses with bells in his hands simply petrified me. I was about 5 or 6 then.

The policemen from the police station opposite would come for the tau foo far too. Some of them would ask Dad, “Eh, towkay, apa benda ini hah…….sungguh sedap?”

Dad would reply, “ Ini tau foo far !”

“Apa….oh….tau foo farrrrrrrrr…..” and everyone would laugh.

Business was stable and the family could make a decent living.

However, some 25 years later, one day, Dad received a notice from the Ipoh municipality which changed our lives completely……


Note: The photos above showed a marble table, some wooden chairs and the old radio from Nam Foong Coffee Shop. Except for the radio which was broken down, the rest are still in use till today. During its prime, we can listen to stations all over the world, just imagine that!

The Public Pool

By |2010-05-26T08:05:26+08:00May 26th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , |

This is an 80s picture of the Majlis Perbandaran Ipoh (MBI) swimming pool. The pool is near the Perak Stadium; also part of the sports complex which has a velodrome, hockey stadium and an indoor stadium (Stadium Indera Mulia). The pool is opened to the general public, and it has also been a venue for various swimming competitions.

There used to be a cozy pool-side restaurant too. Last I checked, the restaurant was still there –  it becomes really crowded during Ramadan. The pool itself has been renovated time and again. I think the last major job was done before the SEA Games in 1998 (if I’m wrong, I stand corrected).

Anyone know when the pool was built? Or perhaps there was something else in the area before the pool came about…..

A Familiar Place…..?

By |2010-05-24T08:28:08+08:00May 24th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , , |

This is one of the many mansions which belonged to one of Ipoh’s rich towkays. I’m sure some of you recognise it! The picture below shows what has become of the place in recent times….

….a club! Notice the changes, especially the windows and balcony. Anyone know WHEN the mansion was turned into a club?

188 Hugh Low Street – The home I once knew

By |2010-07-04T00:34:24+08:00May 21st, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Does this building looked familiar to you? It was located right in the middle of new town, along busy Hugh Low Street. It faced the junction of Cowan Street and Jalan Yang Kalsom. Just opposite is the new town police station. Adjacent is Hume Street.

Yes, I knew it looked abandoned and in a dilapidated condition. It stuck out like a sore thumb but it held many childhood memories for me. It is my childhood home. I have spent 24 years living in it.

Standing from the road and looking up, you will see two stone lions playing with a globe perched on the roof. I always used to wonder who the designer of this structure is and what it represented. Anyone knows of a similar structure elsewhere in Ipoh?

In its heyday, this building sported whitewash paint with green colored wooden windows and doors. On the upper floor, there are 6 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. This is where my paternal grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins, elder siblings and some tenants lived.

According to my parents, among the tenants is a beautiful cabaret girl working at the nearby Jubilee Park along Cowan Street. She is a mixed Chinese and Thai girl called Ah Hung. Other tenants would stand near the window and watched her bade him good night. Later, her brother got a tin mine to operate and she herself migrated to England and did not come back anymore. I am not sure if she has any kin around.

On the ground floor is a front hall, a room, a kitchen, a bathroom and two toilets. This is where Mom, Dad and I stayed.

In the early days, we used the bucket system. Night soil collectors in an orange coloured truck used to come every other evening to collect the waste using black rubber buckets. We always covered our noses whenever they come! Mom even lighted up a cheroot to fight the lingering stench. Only in the late 70s it was converted to the flush system.

The staircase, room partitions and upper floorings are made from very solid timber. It is a spacious and airy place. Such a joy to live in except for the toilets!

As children, we would come out and play in the evenings. We liked to play hide and seek among the pillars outside. We also played hopscotch and tops along the corridors. Sometimes we used to cycle along the back lane behind the shop with kites in our hands. After a shower of rain, we would throw paper boats into the drain outside the shop or catch small fish. Once, I fell into the drain together with a bicycle when a boy next door pushed me as we fought over some marbles. I lost my two front teeth!

An unforgettable incident happened on Chinese New Year’s eve in 1972. Grandma woke up early that morning to find an Indian man who worked as a shop assistant next door, hanging from a pillar in front of our shop. He was already dead for a few hours. She screamed and fainted at the sight.

Only a few days earlier, his toddler son fell into the same drain in a very heavy downpour. Before anyone could do anything, he was swept by the strong current into the connecting monsoon drain that flows into Sungai Kinta. His body was never found.

Back in the 70s, Dad let out the corridor outside to an Indian barber called Subramaniam. Sometimes, his son Morgan would help out when business is good. And their business is good most of the time.

Every year, the Nine Emperor Gods procession will pass by the shop on its way back to the Tow Boo Keong Temple at Jalan Tokong. We have a good view from our windows as people crowded the street below jostling for a better view. Under the hot blazing sun they looked up at us enviously!

My family stayed here for a total of 55 years. It was only like yesterday but actually so long ago. I hate to see it being demolish someday…..

Ipoh’s ‘Puduraya’?

By |2010-05-21T04:14:03+08:00May 21st, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town, Memories|Tags: , , , |

I’m sure many of you out there recognize this place!

Today, it’s mainly a stop for the inter-city buses – since Medan Gopeng now handles the inter-state services. But the place is still BUSY!

Such buses (as in the picture) are still around today, along with the new air-conditioned buses too! The roundabout has had a make-over of sorts: with a peculiar arrangement of labu sayong and flowering plants. Those trees on the top left corner have made way for a petrol station.

Has anything else changed?

Days Gone By: Growing Up in Penang

By |2010-05-19T08:13:52+08:00May 19th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

Written by Christine Wu Ramsay (the great granddaughter of Leong Fee), this book gives an account of the Leong Fee family – from the time Leong Fee, a poor Hakka migrant from China, rose from rags to riches; eventually becoming the owner of the famous Tambun Mines in Perak, and Vice-Consul of China in Penang.

The writer also talks about her life, being brought up by her grandparents and cared for by black-and-white amahs. With over a hundred photographs (from her family album), Ramsay recounts the “way of life and philosophy” of the olden days – before she left for Australia.

The book can be bought from: Perak Academy, Areca Books (the Publishers), and also from local book stores.
(ISBN 978-983-42834-6-9)

Once Upon A Time……

By |2010-05-17T08:07:48+08:00May 17th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , |

…she may have been no more than 20 years old when she left her family (back in  the Fujian or Kwungtung Province) to work overseas as a “combination of cleaner, cook, seamstress, nurse and general factotum”.

In Ipoh, these Black and White sisters “had their own temple where men were not allowed”. This picture we have here is said to be at Jalan Bendahara, Ipoh. Of course NOW, Jalan Bendahara has changed a lot!

We do wonder what has become of the Amah and the child she looked after…..

天长地久 ……Forever and ever…….

By |2010-07-04T00:44:05+08:00May 12th, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , |


“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

 After the Japanese left Malaya in 1945, Dad had wanted to resume with his apprenticeship at the village workshop in Batu Gajah but found it was burnt down. The owner and his entire family were killed by the Japanese soldiers.

He was already 25. So the next step would be to move to Ipoh to start a new life. With RM300 in his pocket, he rented a place and started a coffee shop with his mother and sisters. That was how Nam Foong Coffee Shop at 188 Hugh Low Street began.

As time went by, business began to pick up and he needed an extra pair of hands. It was also time he needed a companion too. So he was looking for two persons rolled in one.

At the same time, Mom was hoping to escape from childhood poverty and a nagging stepmother. She was a young girl of 15 staying in Kampung Kuchai.

Through a match maker, photos were exchanged and a meeting arranged for them. And it turned out to be love at first sight for them both. Months later, they were engaged.

During their courtship they like to stroll along Hugh Low Bridge, People’s Park and Birch Bridge in the evenings. Sometimes they would go to cinema halls to watch a movie or two and to Jubilee Park for amusement. They often took a ride around town in a rickshaw because Dad could not afford to buy a car.

Mom and Dad eventually got married on November 22 1950 immediately after she reached the age of 20. It was a modest wedding attended by family and friends from both sides. A wedding luncheon was held at the Nam Hoi Wui Khun (Nam Hoi Association) along Clare Street.

Like any couples, they had their fair share of quarrels and fights but nothing could rock their strong and solid union. Despite everything, they stayed glued together to weather out all the hardships and obstacles that came their way in raising a large family.

In April 2000, Mom was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure. Dad was very devastated. He just broke down and cried. It was almost like his whole world collapsed on him. Knowing her end was very near, he helped me to take loving and tender care of her although he was already 80 and frail.

Mom succumbed to a heart attack on 24 November 2000 at home with Dad and me by her side. It was only 2 days after their 50th golden wedding anniversary which they could not celebrate due to her illness. Dad was beyond consolation. He had lost a partner of 50 years and the greatest love of his life. A loss so profound he could not recover from, even after many years.

When he passed on later, after 7 lonely years, their ashes were finally placed side by side at the Paradise Memorial Park in Tanjung Rambutan.

                      天长地久 ……Forever and ever……..


* HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 母亲节快乐      http://www.ipohworld.org/?p=1585

* At the doorstep of hell….well,almost.   http://www.ipohworld.org/?p=1489

A Cry For Help

By |2010-05-12T16:08:42+08:00May 12th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Ipoh Town|Tags: , |



The Ipohworld’s World blog is wonderful.


I tried to find in your posts information about one building which is located near the roundabout at Gopeng Road and Jalan Tambun, diagonally opposite Yuk Choy Primary School, but I haven’t been able to.


A large furniture shop is now built in front of it (Kota Furniture). I knew that formally the building that has a large compound belonged to Kok Kee Restaurant but who owned the original building? The original owner was probably a Cheong family, since there’s a gate with the inscriptions “C” and Cheong.


I have attached a few photographs taken last year at this place, but regrettably, I did not manage to get a picture of the front of the building because the furniture shop owner built extensions out from the front of the building, concealing the front porch of it.



I am hoping someone can provide the history and show photos of the original stone building.




The Mayfair Hotel

By |2010-05-11T02:17:44+08:00May 11th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Here are 3 boys, posing outside the Mayfair Hotel.

Does anyone know where it was? Or, is the hotel still there today? The donor of this photograph is just as stumped as we are…….maybe someone out there could tell us more!

The Mystery of Sekolah Kebangsaan Convent

By |2010-06-04T05:27:15+08:00May 9th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Just behind this wall which is across the road from Chung Thye Phin’s mansion (now the Kinta Medical Centre) is a wonderful old mansion which we hope is under massive restoration rather than renovation. It presently looks like this.

What a great house this must have been in its day. But by now you might be wondering why we think there is some mystery about it. Well here it is!

Who or what was Leeton? If you can help we shall be delighted to hear from you. This time we really need your help. Please.

By the way the photographs are courtesy of Kinta Heritage Sdn Bhd. Thank you for your help guys.


By |2010-07-04T00:48:53+08:00May 7th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |


A TRIBUTE TO MOM  献给天下间的母亲

Dearest Mom, how can I ever forget

the simple joy of nestling in your loving arms

and suckling contently at your milky breasts

that gave me the nourishments of life.

Dearest Mom, how can I ever describe

your kind smile that I saw through my tears

as I took a fall and you whispered to my ears

that it is sometimes alright to take a tumble in life.

Dearest Mom, how can I ever thank you enough

for the wisdom that you taught me as I grew up

and the love you gave me so unconditionally

which is the sweetest nectar I have tasted in life.

The lovely lady in this photo is my beloved late mom, Madam Chow Chiew Sai. This photo was taken in 1945 for match making purpose. It was taken at an unknown studio in Ipoh, most probably near Kg Kuchai where she stayed during her younger days. In those days, match making was the norm upon reaching marriageable age.

In this photo she sported the “abalone” hairstyle made famous by the popular mainland Chinese songstress, Zhou Xuen周璇. Mom was a big fan, always humming her songs as she goes about doing her chores. For this photo session, she also sewed herself a set of samfoo to complete the pretty look. Needless to say, she won my dad’s heart straight away!

From cradle to grave, Mom never had it easy. Her own mother died when she was only six and being the eldest child, she had to take care of her siblings and doing all the house work even though she is still a child herself. And in those days there were no electricity or tap water, much less gas stove! So she has to draw water from the well and chop fire woods as a child.

After marriage, she had to face abusive in- laws and in old age debilitating illness.But Mom is a very resilient and gentle person. She has never throw a tantrum nor even rise her voice. Despite the many hardships, she and Dad managed to give my siblings and me a decent childhood and for that we are forever indebted and grateful to them both.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. Even though she is no longer with me but she is always in my heart and in my mind. And I like to take this opportunity to thank her and also to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and may she rest in eternal peace.

Of course, I also like to wish all the wonderful moms in the world a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. Mothers are our guardian angels. As the Jewish proverb puts it aptly “God cannot be everywhere, therefore he created mothers.”

…..perfect for a hot afternoon!

By |2010-05-09T11:48:49+08:00May 7th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

My name is Mohammed Salleh, age 39, married with three children. I am one of the many hawkers in town selling ‘chendol’ for the past 22 years. You can find me daily at the Magistrate Court compound in the morning; around Railway Station at one o’clock; and at Hale Street (opposite Town Padang) from 3 pm. I finish work at about 5pm.

He used to be one of the many hawkers who served locals (and probably foreigners too!) back in the 70s. Anyone tried his famous ‘chendol’?

The Houses of Sungai Rokam

By |2010-05-05T01:35:56+08:00May 5th, 2010|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , , |

Somewhere in the late 1960s, this was part of a low-cost housing scheme in Sungai Rokam (off Gopeng Road), in Ipoh. These houses were constructed mainly of timber, following the traditional Malay-styled home. There were about 410 units of such houses which covered over 100 acres of land. The houses were raised on timber columns, resting on concrete bases, and had tie beams which also served as floor joints.

Are they still around today? Or have they been replaced by modern brick houses / flats?

Great Heritage at a Budget Price

By |2010-05-02T03:16:55+08:00May 2nd, 2010|Categories: Books, ipoh, Memories|Tags: , , , , |

If you are eager to know about early Ipoh and Perak then this is a must-buy for you.

“A Grandfather Story” telling of the life of Leong Sin Nam is written by his grandson Dr Leong Oon Keong. In it you will find not only the life story of one of Ipoh’s most famous pioneers and philanthropists, but also stories of the early tin miners and coolies, Perak’s support to Dr Sun Yat Sen’s revolution in China and the early Chinese migrants and how they helped their motherland during the two Sino-Japanese wars.

Included in the book are exclusive photographs taken from a souvenir book produced by Leong Sin Nam in the 1930s of which only one copy survived the Japanese Occupation.

Dual language, English and Chinese, A4 size and 65 pages in all, perfect bound with the photographs on quality glossy paper, and selling at only RM15, this is the best value heritage book you will ever be offered.

The book may be obtained direct from Dr Leong’s clinic at Leong Oon Keong Chest & Medical Clinic Sdn. Bhd. 178 – 180 Jalan Pasir Puteh, 31650 Ipoh, Perak. Tel: 605-2556302 Fax: 605-2432145, or by email to okleong@tm.net.my.

All proceeds will be donated to YNLeong Education Trust.

Go to Top