Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

In the 1950s, a newly married herbalist rented a room in a shophouse – No.1, Treacher Street, Ipoh – where he sold his ‘cooling tea’ or leong char as the locals knew it.

This man was none other than Ho Kai Cheong; and till today his tea is still popular – “Ho Yan Hor”, as it is called! The picture above shows an advertisement of “Ho Yan Hor”; the van (owned by Ho Kai Cheong himself) was fixed with loud speakers, which promoted the ‘cooling tea’.

Anyone remember the van or the advertisement? I’m sure some of you out there have tried this ‘cooling tea’….

Incidentally, Ho Kai Cheong’s son David Ho went on to major in Pharmacy – this same David Ho founded Hovid Berhad, which now manufactures and markets more than 300 different types of pharmaceutical products.

  1. ipohgal says:

    Wow Felicia, what an interesting photo and story!

    No, I have not seen this van or heard about the advertisement but I have definately consumed “Ho Yan Hor” herbal cooling tea countless times, especially in the hot weather. It is good for a sore throat and flu. I think these herbal tea bags are common in every Chinese household.

    Ho Yan Hor cooling tea closest rivals are “Tan Ngan Lou” and “Cap Gunting”. Can’t say which is better.

    As for Hovid Pharmacy, yes, been there to buy some medical stuff countless time before. Nice to learn about their history. By the way, when was this photo taken and what happened to this van?

  2. felicia says:

    hi Ipohgal! if you’re curious to know more, the whole story can be found in the book ‘Ipoh-When Tin was King’. the picture is from there too.
    i have no idea what happened to this van…..maybe we’ll wait and see if anyone else knows 😉

  3. ipohgal says:

    Thanks Felicia, oops, forgot to mention that although I have not hear the advertisement from this van simply because I was not born yet but I do remembered hearing of Ho Yan Hor on Redifussion in the 70s and 80s.
    Maybe that was after the van went “out of action”. My assumption only.

  4. KLboy says:

    “Ho Yan Hor herbal tea 何人可涼茶”
    “Tan Ngan Lo medicated tea單 眼 佬涼 茶”
    Both of these tea only cure minor sickness (:
    Here are two links , maybe can help you find out some related story

    “……….The founder of Ho Yan Hor Sdn Bhd, who also obtained a doctorate in Divinity from the Christian Nam Wah College in Hong Kong when he was 88, started selling the tea in other villages and places as far as Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur……”
    (Originally published in The Star on Saturday September 11, 2004)

    “Tan Ngan Lo medicated tea, also known as “Ubat Akar Akar Teh Sejuk Cap Tan Ngan Lo”, is a mixture of herbs commercially formulated in Malaysia by Mr Foong Chow Hwey in 1963. He inherited the recipe from his father who used it as a folk remedy for family members and friends to invigorate their bodies after a hard days work. The tea is now made by Wen Jiang Medical Industries Sendirian Berhad and is exported to…………………..”

    Hi !
    Felicia, and all
    I’m so sorry to say that your article caught my attention for some reason, maybe it will catch yours as well.
    Hope you don’t mind (:.
    The name “Treacher”
    “…a shophouse-No.1,Treacher Street,Ipoh-where…”,

    Jalan Sultan Ismail (Treacher Road) in KL,but Treacher Road in Ipoh what is the present name for it ?

    “……He was also one of the founding fathers of Victoria Institution, having initiated a fund using unspent Treasury money collected for the 1887 celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, to establish the school…..”
    By DEBBIE CHAN ( Star :Saturday June 9, 2007)

  5. ipohgal says:

    Wow, didn’t know that this Dr Ho Kai Cheong would CYCLE from Ipoh to KL and back to Ipoh again in the 60s – that is an incredible feat! What an enterprising man, considering the condition of the trunk road at that time!

    As for Treacher Street, it is now known as Jalan Bijih Timah. This new name is not so bad because everyone knew “bijih timah” or tin ore contributed to the development and prosperity of Ipoh. At least some logic and connection.

    By the way, this is the place where you can find your famous white coffee. It is in the old town.

    Thanks KLboy for your links.

  6. Leong Yew Kee says:

    Look carefully at the packing of the first Ho Yan Hor Char. The design consist of a cross and a star. This way back in the 1940s. I am not sure if it was Dr. Ho who came to my parents and discussed the design of the packing. I remember clearly that the CROSS was to depict Christianity and the STAR, the star of Bethlehem. But now both the cross and the star are gone. The packing now is in a dark green plastic bag. Today, I still take the Ho Yan Hor tea regularly….especially after having curry lunch or dinner…:)

  7. felicia says:

    Hi Leong. thanks for pointing that out…didn’t realise it before!
    just wondering: has the taste (of Ho Yan Hor) ever varied over the years?

  8. ika says:

    Hi Leong Yew Kee,

    Welcome to ipohWorld. I wondered if you could tell us any more about your parents relationship with Dr Ho/his packaging. Were they in the graphic design or advertising business in those days?

  9. Allan says:

    I don’t remember the van, but I remember the shop – had some of their “tea” when I was sick. I remember the front of the shop was more elevated than the next shop. And beside the shop at night there were several hawker stalls and further down next to the lane towards the Sinhalese bar junction there was the best fired noodles stall – we used to order “karp tai” – dont really know what it means, but it was good. That area was the only main food centre at night in old town.

  10. KLboy says:

    Felicia, or anyone has find out what happened to the old “leong char” car ? just curious..
    In my childhood time, I have seen the Volkswagen type, not the older type you mentioned in your posting.
    You can see this car in KL, especially in market area in 1970’s.
    It used to carry a loud speaker,and promoting medicine by a guy. I sometimes felt wonder about it.

  11. felicia says:

    Thanks for that interesting bit, Allan!

    KLboy, i wouldn’t know about the van nor the Volkswagon….wasn’t born yet! 😉

  12. ipohgal says:

    Felicia, back in those days whenever I have a flu, my mum would give me a mug of warm Ho Yan Hor brewed with 2 pieces of “wah mui” -dried and salted plums to counter the bitterness of the herbal drink. Even then, it is so difficult to go down my throat!! Mum said the more bitter it is, the more potent it will be.

    But now, sadly to say, as with other herbal drinks, it has became more diluted and less potent. My personal opinion.

  13. Leong Yew Kee says:

    Hi Ika,

    Referring to the Ho Yan Hor hebal tea first packaging, it was Dr. Ho’s own design but he had wanted the opinion of my parents maybe out of respect or maybe just for more opinions. I wonder if Dr. Ho and my father were classmates in China. My father was the pastor of the Chinese Methodist Church which used to hold their sunday service at a wooden building opposite ACS in Lahat Road. In fact our family stayed there during the Japanese occupation. I will try and get the photo/s of the building as well as write some news about the building.

    For Felicia. I believe there is some change in the taste of the present Ho Yan Hor tea.

    For Allan, You are right in saying that the area near the home of Dr. Ho was a night makan area. This was until the DBI decided to put all food stalls in the food court/s. This move virtually killed old town food stalls business. This remained so until maybe 5 years ago when the shops there were allowed to put tables outside their shops at night. This brought a little life back at night to old town.

  14. Leong Yew Kee says:

    Lots of things happened in the area near the Ho residence in Treacher Street.

    The story teller – My wife lived in that area and tells me that there used to be a story teller who told stories at the open area behind the Ho residence.. (It is now a car park) His story time was dictated by a joss stick. When he started he will light up a joss stick. The story will end when the joss stick had burnt out.

    The opium dens – I went into one of these when an uncle asked me to take him to Market Street area. Not knowing what he was going for, I took him there. He knew exactly what he was looking for and headed straight for the place. We entered through the back door of one of the houses. There I saw many opium smokers lying on their side and smoking the opium pipe which made the guggling sound of water. That was all I can remember.

    My wife told me two things about these dens.
    One, the operators of the dens will boil coffee to cover the smell of the opium because there is similarity in the smell of coffee and opium.
    Two. She saw a opium smoker swallow a [pink colour new born live rat. Anyone know the reason for this?

    Flooding – It is a common occurrence that the area around Panglima Street, Market Street and Treacher Street to be flooded whenever there was heavy rain. The residence used planks to block the house and shop entrances to prevent the flood water going into the house.. but what can planks do. The houses still got flooded.
    Monsoon drains were constructed in later years and thus drainage improved and prevented flooding.

    Chinese Wayang (stage play)- The lorry owners and operators association is situated at the end of Market Street. Every year, during August (the Chinese calendar Seventh Moon near the ghost Street nearest to the river. Modern music bands with singers would precede the Chinese stage play. This would go on for at week or two and was considered a festival for people living in that area.

  15. felicia says:

    WOW! Leong, a LOT used to happen at Treacher Street (and the surroundings)…..it’s a pity we don’t see much of that now days.

  16. Y C says:

    Hello, Mr Leong Yew Kee, I remember the wooden building and Chinese Methodist Church, Lahat Road, then moved to Jalan Yang Kalsom. My forebear was one of the early pastors surname Lau, lived in Pasir Puteh. Also, I remember a Chinese Pastor Leong Wai Ah and his wife! Small world indeed!

    Regards and hope to meet up one day,

    Y C

  17. S.Y. Lee says:

    Can anyone remember the “leong char mooi” the girls who sell the leong char in the stalls. Buy the leong char and you get a chance to talk to the pretty young girls. This was in the late fifties and sixties.

  18. Leong Yew Kee says:

    Hi Y.C.
    Good that you are reading Ipohworld too. Yes indeed my father was the Rev. Leong Wai Ah you know. You can find me and some of my ACS classmates in Jaya JusCo Food Court on every Wednssday from 11:30am. Come and join us one of these days. Other readers are invited to join us too.

    S.Y Lee,
    Looks like you were one of those who hang around the ‘leong cahr stalls’… 🙂 Remember the one manning the stall outside Majestic theatre????

  19. sk says:

    Hi Leong Yew Kee,
    Yes, if you are referring to the Majestic Theatre girl
    selling ” Loh Mai Kai ” (Glutinous Chicken Rice), she certainly
    attract customers like bees.
    Gosh, It was so long ago and now you mentioned it….Oh la la
    I remember she purposely pressed the ” Loh Mai ” with her fingers
    so that it would taste “better”.
    She would certainly qualified to be the beauties from Ipoh.
    Anyone got a picture of her ?
    Besides this, the stall was also selling Dim Sum.
    Can you remember other Dim Sum eateries like Diamond which was at the back of the Jalan Chamberlain Post Office, Sing Chow, Opposite Odean Theatre ?
    In front of Majestic Theatre, I liked the Hor Hee Fun. Its a rare
    commodity now where the special fish fillings were hung in nettings.
    Any reason why it was hung this way ?
    Another stall at night fall, I could remember was along the row of shop houses at Old Town Kwong Fatt, there was either a beef or wanton mee stall. We were all squatting under a Big Clock Shop enjoying our supper after a show from Sun Cinema.
    There was also another Wanton Mee seller in the afternoon near the Central Market. He wore a straw hat and most of the time, shirtless. The Wanton Mee was not bad as the noodle was curly &
    springy. Can still smell the wanton & how it tasted.

  20. Cheah Kitt Seong says:

    Wow this is a great captured photo of a (Morris Z Van) in Ipoh.
    I didnt know there were Morris Z Van in Ipoh=)
    This website is amazing. Anything old is gold!


  21. Tshui says:

    Speaking of mobile advertising, certainly many Ipohans, who lived through the 60s to 80s, remembered the Union Advertising Co. 友聯廣告社. As village kids in the 60s, we were truthfully thankful to this advertising co for without it we would not be able to discover good movies were in town. Excitements amply filled the ladies circles when popular textiles shops like Kwong Fatt and Nam Chuan or Far East engaged Union Advertising Co to deliver the good news of cheap sales. Nevertheless, happiness from ladies arguably conflicted with sadness from the gentlemen for the breadwinners had to dig deeper into their pockets.

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