Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

From what our donor (Ko-chi Wai) tells us, this is a “view from inside Choon Seng shop house along 156 Hugh Low Street, ground floor front. Shows the structure of the horizontal sliding metal grill/shutter door, and an old heavy-duty weigh (in green, left bottom). My brother, sister and myself on the old Honda cub.”

This picture was taken in 1979. I wonder if the shop house is still there….perhaps another establishment has taken over? Those of you familiar with the layout of Hugh Low Street might be able to tell us more 🙂

  1. Ipohgal says:

    Choon Seng? Hmmn, sounds very familiar. Is it on the same row as the former Chuen Fong Curry Noodle? On my latest visit to Hugh Low Street last week, I noticed some upgrading works done to some shops along this row.

  2. kcwai says:

    Choon Seng was at the same row with Beauty supermarket in the corner. Used to love looking at the candies and toys sold at Beauty. Convenient as well as we just need to run past a few doors to get to it. Next door is the dried BBQ pork shop Lim Keng Guan which is still operating.

  3. mahkinfatt says:

    the honda cup70,my first bike.two color version,ie beige and grey.those days cost rm1500,with instalment of rm50 every month.wonder how much is it today for a honda cup?

  4. Ipohgal says:

    Thanks for pointing out the exact location of this shop. Now I know where it is. There is also a confectionery shop and wine shop along this row. Beauty was replaced by Hai-O-Raya.

  5. Mano says:

    There’s another story to this picture. From the introduction of the Honda Cub 50cc, the upgrade from pushbike to motorbike became more feasible. From padi fields to town centres, the Honda replaced the indestructible bicycle. The Raleigh in the picture is leaned against the wall looking forlorn.

  6. Steven Lee says:

    The bicycle has been relegated from a mode of transport to recreational use. While European countries like Netherlands have revived the use of bicycles, the hot and humid weather in Malaysia will deter revival of the bicycle here, perhaps except for motorized or electric bicycles. The design of roads that doesn’t have a narrow lane for bicycles make it too dangerous to be on the road.

  7. mahkinfatt says:

    those bicycles were mostly from england.still remember a few names like raleigh,7up,hercules,and robin hood.then came along a bit of modest types like robinson and chopper.cost more than rm200 those days.

  8. S.Y. Lee says:


    My Hercules bicycle cost less than RM200, perhaps RM130 or less but that was in the late 50s. Same with the Raleigh. The 7up, Robinson and Robin Hood may be cheaper and came later. I used to cycle to school until my Upper Six. Those with richer parents bought the Honda Cub 50 which came out in 1960 or so. They only cost RM500 plus then. I remember 3 of us rode on the Honda Cub and it refused to move

  9. kcwai says:

    The hardy Honda Cub…my aunt used to ride it all the way from Choon Seng to Gunung Rapat to pick me up, then rode all the way to the Kinta Swimming Club along Jln Silibin for a swim, then it’s all the way back to Gunung Rapat again to drop me off before riding back to Choon Seng. Those were the days when traffic was lighter and car drivers were more considerate to motorcyclists.

    • Yusof says:

      I have two! Legacy from my late father. One is a Honda 65 (like Mano mentioned) which is only 3 years younger than I am! Another is a C70 which he bought in 1980. I have already refurbished the latter, currently waiting on my mechanic to let me know when I get send in the other one. Both are still in running condition though, and I use them to go to the shops on short grocery runs instead of driving.

  10. Mano says:

    The Honda Cub was the only motorcycle available without a clutch. It was first introduced as a 50cc then 65cc and gradually to, I think, a 90cc. The gears were changed via a rocker lever at the left foot. Interestingly, the British makes which were prevalent at the time when the Honda Cub was first introduced, had the gear lever at the right peg whilst the brake lever was on the left! I owned both, a modern Jap and old ’57 Brit, at the same time. It can be pretty hairy, when you absentmindedly hit the brake but the gear changes instead!
    Here’s an urban myth. Never leave a 50cc Cub unattended where cows are grazing. Apparently some ingredient in the plastic weather shield made it tasty for them! The later models were not at risk.
    Yes, it would be great if someone out there has a Honda Cub 50cc with an ‘apple bite’ missing from the shield!

  11. Wayne Tan says:

    I grew up in shop 160 (Ban Seng), next door to Choon Seng.
    I also grew up with the two brothers and 2 sisters from Choon Seng. Not sure if the kids in the picture are them. I just vaguely remember their names were Ah Bun, Ah Li and Ah Ming.


    • kcwai says:

      The names you mentioned are my cousins (they lived on the first floor of 158). I don’t stay there, but do visit regularly, with night sleepovers. If not mistaken, Ban Seng was a shop selling biscuits and such?

      • Wayne Tan says:

        Hello Kcwai,
        I didn’t check this email until more than a year later.
        I hope you still follow up with the thread.
        Can you be so kindly to help me get in touch with Ah Ming or Ah Li and their brother Ah Bun?
        My email is naturopharm@aol.com
        I know their father had a stroke and I hope he is fine.

  12. Ipoh Remembered says:


    From padi fields to town centres, the Honda replaced the indestructible bicycle. The Raleigh in the picture is leaned against the wall looking forlorn.

    If the photo was taken in 1979, as seems possible from the registration number on the Honda, then that Raleigh must have already been leaning against the wall for quite some time!

    I remember when the Cub was first sold in the US (where it was known as the Honda 50). It was Honda’s attempt to break out of Japan and into the US market. Considering that this was in the late ’50s, not very long after WWII, one might think it would have failed due to resentment of its Japanese origins but, because the product was cleverly made and even more cleverly marketed (“You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” said the slogan), Honda was soon established as the motorcycle that anyone, especially women, could ride. In the US by the mid-’60s, it even became a popular Christmas present.

    Some of you may remember the introduction of Honda cars in Malaysia. I believe it was in the late ’60s or early ’70s: maybe the Honda N360 was the first? People used to laugh at those cars because they were small and maybe underpowered — but Honda persevered and the rest, as they say, is history.

  13. Mano says:

    Ipoh Remembered, yes the N360 was the first Honda 4 wheeler in M’sia. There was a small wave of mini/micro cars around the time you mentioned. It seemed like the Japs were competing with the Mini but a decade too late. Actually it was due to the Japanese government dictating the concepts to the manufacturers of these cars which became known as Kei Cars. The most popular were the Toyopet 700 and of course the N360. There were others from the other manufacturers but I guess they didn’t fare too well as they looked more like something you’d rather take home and feed rather than drive!

  14. Ngai C O says:


    Talking about small cars, there certainly is a market and demand for it due to the high gas price and the move towards a greener environment.

    Discounting the ricketry Kanchil which has enabled many Malaysians to own an ‘affordable’ car but a potential death trap in waiting, the Smart, the revival of the Fiat 600 and the Toyota Yaris, to name a few, do seem to be doing well.

    They pack sufficient power for the short runs besides saving money on petrol and reducing the carbon footprint.

    The improvement in designs and use of lighter materials over the years mean that they miles apart from their distant past cousins.

    I still remember our journey to either Taiping or Lumut in a Fiat 600 people carrier that never made it. The engine overheated on a gentle gradient and subsequent loss of power that we had to crawl back to Ipoh.

    I was too young to remember much except the engine kept overheating and suffered a loss of power.

  15. NCK says:

    I agree that Kancil and Kenari are not very safe to drive because of their light weight. They can’t take on larger vehicles. However, they are excellent in fuel saving.

    Oversea brands are not necessarily better. A sedan model of a top Japanese brand has been the most popular foreign make in Malaysia for many years. Solely meant for Asian market, it had never been crash-tested until five years ago, at the new test facility in Melaka. The test was only partial, and it got a good 4-star rating even though its front compartment was gone and it swung and bounced to one side after the crash.

    Waja on the other hand was tested by Euro-NCAP more than 10 years ago. It got an average 3-star rating for not faring well in pedestrian protection – probably because it swung 90-degree after the crash. From the test videos, one can see that Waja performed better than the Japanese model.

    • Ngai C O says:


      The Kanchil and Menari are built to a price so that they can sell cheap but I am not very sure they are really that cheap as such with the lack of features.

      Everything is very basic – minimilist. There are no air bags and no ABS braking.

      I heard that even for short distance driving, the seats are very uncomfortable.

      Underpowered and underweight cars always suffer once they reach a certain speed with vibrations, noticeable handling difficulty and road holding capability. This may be obvious when taking sharper bends with either over or under steer.

      Besides they will struggle with steep gradients. Cross winds may be a problem at high speeds.

      I have seen cars like Kanchil speeding along on the highway and even overtaking larger cars and trucks.

      Nothing wrong with it. But without the spare power capacity if needed and its tin can build, I won’t feel very confident and comfortable.

      I have not driven one. So these are my presumptions and observations.

      I believe Malaysia ranks high on road deaths.

      There are many factors contributing to the high incidence. Without figures, I suspect human error is one of the major causes.

      In London alone, pedestrians and especially cyclists are at the mercy of trucks. I single out trucks because they are notorious for taking out cyclists at junctions with their blind spots.

  16. Mano says:

    Ngai C O, I owned a Fiat 600 for a while as a classic. There is a trick to solving it’s inherent overheating problem. By changing the cooling fan pulley to a step smaller in diameter, the revolution is increased forcing more air through the radiator. I never had that problem of overheating with it. Despite it’s age, it was reliable, fun to drive and loved being chucked around corners!

    • Ngai C O says:

      Hi Mano,

      That was definitely a simple and straight forward solution.

      Imagine the car going uphill with the engine demanding more power and and the cooling fan had to rely on the engine speed. It was a non starter.

      Engine overheating became less of a problem when independently operated electrical fans controlled by thermostats were introduced. One would notice the fans would kick in more often at elevations.

      Did the Japanese introduce this idea with their small engines?

      I would reckon the Fiat 600 with its low, long wheel base and rear engine and rear wheel drive have a better all round handling capability as you said.

      But the old Wolksvagon Beetle could be a bit more difficult to handle in wet weather conditions due to spinning; so I was told by an owner.

      Years ago, Malaysian road conditions could be lethal in wet weather due to the amount of oil on the road from leaking engines and overspill from gasoline tanks.

      This was particularly noticeable when the rain was not heavy enough to wash away the spill.

    • NCK says:

      My father used to have a Fiat 600 too. I searched the net and looked at some of these cars to rekindle my memories. Cute babes they were, I’d certainly love to have one. Too bad the babe was given a callous treatment. Then, she was sold to another man for RM500, and I never saw her again.

  17. C K Leong says:

    FIAT is a well known Italian car company. The 600 or 500 (air cooled engines) are cute looking but rather uncomfortable compared to other small cars like mini or Mazda 800 of that era. To be fair the latter are slightly higher in cc rating. The modern Fiat 500 is not a bad car but still suffers from reliability issues (maybe not overheating but other issues equally serious). An Italian told me that FIAT stands for “Fix It Again Tony”.

    • NCK says:

      The smaller Fiat 500 in particular is as adorable as a baby. Despite the callous treatments and its age, the Fiat 600 my father owned had served without fail in my father’s daily commutes and the occasional family outings that sometimes included long distance drives.

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