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July 2011

The Sunday Shocker

By |2011-08-01T17:11:18+08:00July 31st, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, What is it?|Tags: , , |

You, our smart readers from across the world have so far managed to identify almost anything we have thrown at you. Now we are becoming so well known that we are being sent some photos that could be anywhere in Malaysia, like this one.

But actually it is thought to be in the Ipoh area although it might just come from the Cameron Highlands. The clue must be the distinctive colouring of the facia and the Air Conditioned transfers on the windows. I really cannot see any more even when the picture is enlarged, so WYSIWYG.

Who’ll be first to enlighten us?

Well, by special request of sm (below) here is a full frontal (pardon the expression) of the Star Barbers.

So what are the differences and where is the original picture situated?

New Map – Batu Gajah Heritage Driving Trail

By |2011-07-31T13:01:29+08:00July 30th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |

Recently published, this new heritage map comes from the same stable as the two Ipoh Heritage walking trails. It is available now, FREE, from the Ipoh Tourism Office and leading hotels and tourism outlets. Alternatively contact kintaheritage@gmail.com.

Unfortunately we do not have enough space to put up the whole thing, but the map below will give you the idea of the scope of this trail.

Included are photographs and descriptions of the different heritage sites (or in some cases what is left of them), and a brief history of both Kellie’s Castle and TT5 Tin Dredge.

Do go and get your copy today as they are going to be popular!

Rex, Ipoh – Movie Advertisement

By |2011-07-22T13:53:54+08:00July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, movies|Tags: , , , |

Yes, it was WAY BACK in 1957…..when we saw Gregory Peck play the role of Captain Ahab!

They don’t make movie posters like they used to…..same can be said for the ‘cinema-experience’ that made cinema halls like Rex, Ruby, Lido, etc. favourite haunts.

The poster we have here is from Edwin Siebel.

Turf Club, 1919

By |2011-07-18T11:38:37+08:00July 18th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, Natural Heritage|

Bet you didn’t know that THIS (picture above) was what the Turf Club‘s grandstand looked like back in 1919! 😉

Of course it’s different now, after all those renovations. But we’re lucky to have such a unique picture to add to our collection. A special thanks to Nicholas Jennings who sent this to us 🙂

It’s Ipoh and they are Aeromodellers

By |2011-07-16T18:50:58+08:00July 10th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , |

And that is just about all we know about this picture which we are led to believe was taken in the 1960s. So come on guys and girls, stop looking at all those Bersih videos and photos and help us out with this one please. Judging by all the cups, shields and other trophys they must have been pretty well known.

No sooner had I asked for a photo of the above group’s reunion photograph, Merrill Leong provided this one.

Merrill added the following:

“Attached is a single photo of the reunion mentioned by CK Leong. The lunch meeting was held at a room in Mun Cheong Restaurant which was being prepared for a wedding dinner; the two names on the wall have no bearing on the group of guys gathered. Let’s see whether your readers can match up who’s who from the two photos. Of course not all present in the black and white picture are in the newer one, and there is one person in the coloured photo who is not in the other.”

Memories of Kledang Hill – by IpohBornKid

By |2011-07-08T10:38:51+08:00July 8th, 2011|Categories: childhood, Memories, nature|Tags: , , |

Here’s a little nostalgia from IpohBornKid, about a trip to the famous Kledang Hills. Happy reading 🙂

A Nostalgic Climb up The Kledang Hill circa 1950s.


Dear Ipoh and Menglembu Old Timers


Everyone has heard of Cameron Highlands (off Tapah), Frazer Hill (Off Taiping) and later on Genting Highlands but not many have heard of the humble Kledang Hill.  Menglembu (Chinese name is Man Li Mong) meaning thousand li view, is a quiet little town surrounding by tin mines and its locality is at the foot of Kledang Hill.  Although it is mainly limestone hills in the Kinta Valley, Menglembu seems to have some hills full of granite which was frequently quarried. Surrounding Menglembu town were 4 residential areas called “North, South, East and West Regrouping Areas.  Their geographical arrangements seem to following the emergency procedures.


Jalan Kledang, previously known as Pike Street, runs into the hillside, first passing through the old cemetery, the Sikh Diary Farmers (the man with the Bullock Cart – there is another story here) and into the mining pools. 


The road to the top of one of the peaks (probably 1,000 ft) existed but was later sealed when a radio transmitter was erected on top of the hill.  The communication centre was guarded by soldiers and probably had a strategic military use.  If I remember correctly it would take a couple of hours to hike up to the top of the transmitter station.


In the beginning only land rovers (or other 4 wheel drive vehicles) are allowed up the hill and most of them were PWD, Police or Military vehicles.  Beginning at the bottom,   the road cuts into the hillside in a zigzag manner.  Sharp and steep corners were common as you drove up the hill.  At a third of the way up, you would have reached the “First Waterfall” (left of the main hill).  Another third up the road, you would have reached the second waterfall.  As you climb further you would reach the peak where the radio transmitter was located.  The area is normally fenced in and guarded. 


There were two ways to ascend to the main hill.  One was by road and the other, a steep climb directly on the main hill.  There were man made steps on the face of the hill which indicated that the first team of workers to ascend the hill made those cuttings.  They have to get the electricity up the hill.  I have personally climbed this part of the hill and it is a bit dangerous.


Early in the 1950s, people in Menglembu began to trek up the hill when the road was sealed.  At one time, it became very popular and picnics were organized by local residents (mostly school kids).  I remembered clearly that we ascended to the top of the hill was not permitted to enter the transmitter buildings.  Through the intercession of a well know Menglembu politician (Sailing Boat Party, probably MCA) Mr Yap Yin Fah, we were allow to use the premises.  The roof top was tarred and most of us had learned how to dance, cha cha and the works; so we went up the roof and started dancing.  We would descend at about 3.00pm and reached town by 5:00 pm.  As an outing, it was fun and cheap.  One photographed showed us walking on the tar sealed road, another with the Menglembu beauties (langloi) and a group p picture at the base of the transmitting antenna tower,


When the fad died down, many started to drive up to Kledang Hill in their own cars.  My uncle was an enthusiast and he drove his Austin Mini up the hill and back.  Going up is no problem but coming down is hard on the brakes.  It is not unusual to stop the vehicle and let the brake pads cool otherwise the brakes would overhead and you lose your brakes.  The only thing left to do was to crash on the hill face and not the off side which send you down hundred of feet to your demise.  Also, never pour water into the brake assemble or you might crack the brake drum.  Anyway, after a few trips you need to change your brake pads and have the drum sheared.  Before I forget, if you have a lousy radiator that leaks, you will be asking for trouble as the engine will start boiling.  Fortunately there was always ample supply of cool water.  We had the same experience when we pushed our bicycles up the hill and free wheel downhill.  What a stupid thrill!


Another interest event that took place was racing car up to the first waterfall.  In the old days, some bright spark started the sport of racing cars to the first waterfall and it became popular for a while.  For safety reasons, each car accelerates toward its destination and was timed.  The shortest time won the race.


There is another route up to the first waterfall.  To get there, you have to follow the stream to its source.  After reaching the foot of the hill, there is a precipice, a drop about 10-15 feet.  After you have ascended this rock face, you move up the slippery rock surface.   If you had slipped and fell, you would have severely injured yourself or worst, got killed.   I had an experience on my descent on those rocks.  I slipped and slid down the rock surface.  I was very lucky that my friend Chow Kai Sek (an ACS old salt) was on guard near the drop.  He lodged himself with a tree branch hanging across the rock surface and grapped me.  If he had missed me, I would not be writing this story.


You can say that there were a lot of fun loving days that could get one killed.  I also remembered about my trip to the foot of Kledang Hill with 2 other ACS boys.  Two were my senior and we all rode in one Honda Cup.  Coming downhill on the flat, we swerved off the road and continued along the grass patch.  We did not manage to cross the stream running across us.  The motorbike went up and we went down.  We all fell in the water.   Of course, one was Kai Sak and the other was the son of a saw mill owner near Falim.


We also used to play Russian roulette.  On top of the Bukit Merah entrance, we would signal the bike rider up the top that the main road is clear of traffic.  On a given signal, the rider took off from the top, down the steep slope and cross the main road.  Lucky for us there were no speeding car on the road…


Why go to Kinta Swimming pools when you have mining pools all over Menglembu.  I used to swim a lot in mining pools.  Adults often told us horror stories about drowning accidents in mining pools.  How many managed to dive into rocks and swam under a submerged rock hole and ended up drowned.  Those stories did not deter us one bit…  I guess we were lucky to be alive after all the dangerous activities we did without our parents’ knowledge.  I used to get caned if there were tell tales signs of having swum in a mining pool.  If they scratch your skin and a white powdery line comes up, it was a sign that you were in the water for some time.    Always take a bath at home immediately after swimming in a mining pool.


The only horror I have encounter in mining pool was to see a black snake competing with me to get on the edge of the pool.  Whew, that was close.  My second encounter with the black snake was riding my bicycle from the foot hills to town.  Traveling quite fast, my front wheel was about to run across the snake crossing the road.  Luckily, I was skilled in jumping off the bicycle (hours of training for this event).  Before my bicycle hit the snake, I jumped off the saddle and the bicycled collided with the snake.  After 10 minutes I recovered my breadth and started to retrieve my bicycle.  The snake was killed when it lodge is body in the spikes of the bicycle.  I used a long stick to remove the snake and when I went home, I was still shaking from fright


Later on in the 1970s, I heard that not many people want to walk up the hill.  People would only walk up to the foothill as a form of exercise only.


When you live in Ipoh town, you do not have open space to play with.  But in Menglembu, the play ground is open space full of mining pools, snakes, and good fishing spots. 


As an aside, I fondly remember the Sikh family living near the cemetery.  They were diary farmers and they sell fresh milk.  Ever try to jump up to a bullock cart and get a free ride without the driver swearing at you in Punjabi.  Most of the family members speak Cantonese and one of their famous sons was an ASP in Singapore. 


I write this story before people forget that Kledang Hill was once a great playground for its residents.



Jalan Bendahara, circa 1972….

By |2011-07-11T12:47:52+08:00July 6th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, Natural Heritage, People|Tags: , |

You know the Sri Maju bus station? Well, this was what the main building looked like before the bus company took over (see picture below).

To what we know, this mansion was once the family home of Dato’ Yeoh Kian Teik (Michelle Yeoh’s father).

We thank Ian Latham for sending us this picture 🙂

The Penghulu of Menglembu – by IpohBornKid

By |2011-07-04T09:14:38+08:00July 4th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, Memories, People|Tags: , , , |

We thank IpohBornKid for this story of Chong Soon Fan, who was the Penghulu of Menglembu during the Japanese Occupation in Malaya.


Mr Chong Soon Fan, JP, The Penghulu of Menglembu


The “Kapitan Chinas” in the Kinta Valley or Tin Mining Towkays, in Ipoh, have been well described by Dr Ho Tak Ming, the author of “Ipoh, when Tin was King”.  For example, Foo Nyit See, Foo Choo Chong, Foo Choong Yit, Yau Tet Shin, Chung Keng Kwee etc. were well known philanthropist in the late nineteen century. 

Some Ipoh streets were named after them.


The next generation of successful tin miners and philanthropists in Ipoh include Lee Loy Sang, Lau Pak Kuan, Fung Seong, Foo Yet Kai, Chong Soon Fan etc.  This article only focuses on the late Chong Soon Fan, JP, for the simple reason that Mr Chong was personally known to the author.  The author also recognized other Towkays in Ipoh who have contributed significantly and substantially to the community.


There are many stories about education in Ipoh and most of them which appeared in the English language media involving English language schools rather than Chinese Language Schools.  In this article, I wish to present a visionary person who is also a philanthropists, educationist and social worker in his times.  He was the late Mr Chong Soon Fan, JP, and in his heydays, was Chairman of the Board on several Chinese language schools in the Ipoh municipality viz Man Wah Primary, Yuk Choy High School, Perak Girls Primary and High School, Sam Chai High School etc. Before Menglembu became part of the Municipality of Ipoh in the 1960s, he was also the “penghulu” or village headman of Menglembu.  He was also a Director in the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Hong Kong Association.


Prior to Merdeka, the township of Ipoh was run by an Englishman Mr Lee, who was the colonial administrator of Ipoh.  After independence, the Seenivasagam brothers DR and SP later controlled the Ipoh Municipality.  It is interesting to note that DR (a well-known Ipoh lawyer) was also famous for owing an American convertible with a golden ignition key.


According to published record, Mr Chong Soon Fan, born in China in the 1890s, migrated to Nanyang (Malaya) from Xihe (West River) region in Guangdong Province, China.  The current location would be north east of MeiXian City, 8 hours drive from Shenzhen via the highway.  He was a “Tai Poo” Hakka and was determined to seek his fortune in “Nanyang”.  At the age of 17, Mr Chong came to Perak state with minimal clothes and cash.  He had a humble beginning and he started to work in Soon Foh Wu Lang, a Menglembu tin ore extraction establishment which collected tin ore from the dulang washers as well as extracting tin ore from the sandy resides which settled in the tail end of the palongs.   (Note: in an open cut mine, the alluvial sand containing the ore is washed down by strong jet of water and the slurry is pumped to the top of the long wooden“slip-dip” structure.  As it flows down, the tin stayed at the top of the palong and the smaller tin granules flow to the bottom.  This bottom residue is rewashed for more tin).  Dulang washes can earn up to $3 a day selling their tin to the collector.


At the Soon Foh, he was intelligent, literate and a hard worker.    As the story goes, the late Mr Foo Choon Yit, OBE, the owner of the establishment, was so impressed by this young man’s talent  that he allowed his eldest daughter to marry him.  From then onwards, the young Mr Chong learned about the tin mining business in Ipoh and prospered.  He later became the Manager of the establishment.


The two storey bungalow family home of the late Mr Foo Choon Yit, a Fujian Hakka, is in Kuala Kangsar Road and is now a museum for tin mining. There is an air raid shelter built in the compound.  One of Mr Foo’s nephew is the late Mr Foo Yet Kai, another famous tin miner in Ipoh.


As a Hakka, Mr Chong was very traditional in his thinking about education and has a high degree of empathy for his fellow clansman. He was the President of the Perak Hakka Association in Jalan Datoh (Sam Chai school is located in the land owned by the Hakka Association) and a Director of a prominent Chamber of Commerce in Ipoh. His contemporaries were famous tin miners in Ipoh.  Mr Chong’s passion for education was the driving force behind the fund raising and building of Chinese schools in Ipoh.  Together with his peers, they managed to raise funds totaling $2M to build schools in Ipoh.  He was recorded to have donated at least $200,000 himself. 


Several important schools that come to mind were and they were the Yuk Choy High School, Perak Girls Primary and High Schools, Man Wah Primary (Menglembu).  Mr Chong and his contemporaries have left a great legacy behind for the future descendants of the people of Ipoh.  Many parents who have migrated from China were determined to send their children to schools in Ipoh.  Some parents insist that their children learn their mother language first before English.  Hence, the Chinese schools satisfied the cultural needs of the Chinese immigrant. They endured the hardship and sacrifice in order that their children will be better off than them.  Together with the other generous philanthropists who built the schools, a great opportunity was created by these visionaries.  Today, many Ipoh people have benefited from a good education.  Hence, we should remember our pioneers who brought us the great gift of education.


In erecting the Chinese schools in Ipoh, the generosity of the Hakka clan played an important role since Hakka tradition is strong in education.  Hakka people originate in Henan Province in China over 2,000 years ago.  In a particular Hakka clan, their history dates back to the Zhou dynasty, having 92 generations in Henan, 17 generations in Guangzhou (as Hakka =guest people) and 7 generation overseas.  Most Hakka occupations in Henan Province (China) were either military or government officials.  They excel in literature and military tactics.  They were Sung Dynasty’s refugees (Mongol invasion) and most groups migrated south to Guangzhou.


It is interesting to note that recently, a second Chinese Primary School (Man Wah No 2) was built at the foot of Kledang Hill in Menglembu.  I was informed that one of the grandsons of Mr Chong was involved.  It is good to see a continuation of commitment in education by a third generation Chong.


As Headman of Menglembu during the Japanese occupation, Mr Chong walked a tight rope in saving a lot of people from the Japanese.  He had to deal with the Japanese authorities and at the same time, not to offend the communist hiding the jungle.  In those days immediately after the Japanese left, there were a lot of revenge taken against “Han jian” or Han traitors.  Mr Chong stood tall and his trustworthiness, courage and fairness earned him respect from all sides. 


There was another aspect of Mr Chong’s work in Menglembu which is not well documented.  In the 1950s, his family home in Menglembu (the bungalow opposite the Man Wah Primary School) was open to his constituents on Saturday mornings.  Many villagers would bring their family problems to him.  He was a peace maker & conciliator; and many benefited from his wisdom to get the family back together.  In the gangster era, he was instrumental in bailing out many young mis-guided youth and kept them out of jail.  The Police would release these youths under the guardianship of Mr Chong. 


If one sat on the front door of Mr Chong’s house, you will see the 3 famous mountain peaks which were framed under the archway of the Man Wah Primary School.  Those mountains peaks represent good fungsui.  Mr Chong had good reason to build his bungalow opposite the school.  Reliable sources said that Mr Chong told her eldest grand daughter that he wanted to keep an eye on the school and watch it grow.   He wanted his grand children to go to that school.


Most of the villagers have no proficiency in English and filling a form is a difficult task.  Mr Chong provided Menglembu villagers with form filling assistance for citizenship & IC card applications as well as other government correspondence. .  These clerical services were an enormous task and required a good typist with a good command of English.  His eldest son filled this position well with dedication and efficiency.  According to reliable sources, his teenage grandson, an accomplished ACS trained typist also assisted his uncle in preparing the forms and typing letters.


Mr Chong was treated with utmost respect in Menglembu.  When he walked the streets in Menglembu, the villagers often greeted him with respect.   Mr Chong received wedding invitation from the villagers at least once every fortnight.  Sometimes, he would send his eldest grandson to represent him in these events when he was unable to attend.


In writing this article, I want to create awareness among later generations of Ipoh people about a pioneer, a visionary person who has given so much to the community.  He should be remembered for his role in saving people during the Japanese occupation, building schools in Ipoh municipality for future generations, and providing much needed community services to his constituents.


For his exemplary community work above and beyond the call of duty, the Sultan of Perak made him a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Privy Council. 


Mr Chong passed away in 1969 and today, more than 40 years passed, I wish commemorate his passing and acknowledge his exemplary dedication and commitment to public education.  He was indeed a pioneer and a humble servant of the people.  Lest we forget.


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