A stone’s throw away from #188 is Hume Street, now known as Jalan Mesjid. Along this short but interesting street, one can find many traditional trades co- existing harmoniously with modern ones.
Let’s start with this building at the junction of Hume Street “ 谦街 ” and Jalan Yang Kalsom. This building once housed the Century Omnibus Station (百年车站). It was there for many decades. Their red coloured rickety buses plied from town to Taman Chempaka, Ampang, Chemor, Tanjung Rambutan and the Race Course along Tambun Road. Back in the 60s and 70s, this was a bustling place, along with some taxis in front.
There were rows of long wooden benches outside. A jukebox in the coffee shop next to the bus station always blasted out English songs which my mom loved although she did not understand a word of English. The most memorable ones were those favorite songs sung by Elvis, Beatles, Bee Gees, Osmond Brothers, Jackson Five, etc.
One night in the early 80s, a big fire gutted the station and a few buses were destroyed. Many people came out to watch the fire and even the FRU were called in to control the swelling crowd. Those staying in the vicinity were worried that the fire might spread because of the electrical wires linking the bus station to the row of shops opposite. Luckily that did not happen and the fire was eventually brought down. A few years later, the bus station closed down and today, this place is taken over by travel agencies and a locksmith.
A few steps away, one can see many shops dealing in various traditional trades like making paper offerings, lorry tarpaulins, sofa covers, curtains, car upholsteries, tailoring, hair dressing and motor workshops.
Further down is the iconic Rex Cinema which faces Brewster Road. In its heyday, this cinema was filled to the brim with patrons watching mainly Cantonese movies. You could find stalls selling sugar cane juice, yellow steamed peanuts, kacang putih and even plastic toys outside. Inside the cinema, there were stalls selling light snacks like sweets, chewing gum, sour plums, salted groundnuts, dried red ginger and prawn crackers.
Today, this place is occupied by a furniture shop and a car park. The stone benches in front are not there anymore. Dad and I would sit there to eat “kuaci” or melon seeds, yellow steamed peanuts and “lin toong” or seeds of the lotus plants after a movie.
Across from the cinema you will find some coffee shops, clan associations, mahjong parlors, a pet shop, an optical shop and one that makes car plates and rubber stamps. You will also find the Kinta Small Traders Association here. At the isolated end of this street is the Panglima Kinta Mosque near the Kinta River bank, the oldest in Ipoh.
Unfolding the panoramic Hume Street brought back some fond memories. When I was about 5 or 6, some nights after my eldest siblings were asleep, the owl in me would pester my dad to take me out for walks around the neighborhood. Dad called it “jalan jalan” or “sau kai” in Cantonese.
First, he took me to Jubilee Park for a ride on the musical carousel and the breathtaking giant wheel. After that, we will head straight to Hume Street for a light supper at the “luk luk” stall in front of the shop next to the coffee shop in brown paint. I usually chose a few sticks of fish balls and squid and dipped them into the boiling water. Next, I would apply some red colored sweet sauce or “tim cheong” on them before eating. Hmm, yummy, yummy!
After that, it was time to go home when we had had enough.
Many shops along Hume Street were already closed by then, so was the bus station. We quickened our steps as the place was dark and quiet. If we were out too late, Mom would scold us because she believed some malicious spirits were lurking at the corners along this street and these would make children fall sick!
Ah, if only I could turn back the clock and walk down this path again with dad holding my hands, just one more time……
Part 2 ~ The most extravagant journey in life…..人生最昂贵之旅程
Note : Special thanks to Aaron Ong who kindly took these photos and shared them with us here.