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May 2015

“Mobile” food…

By |2015-05-25T16:12:09+08:00May 25th, 2015|Categories: food, Identify Photographs, ipoh, People|Tags: |


For those of you who remember, we featured this photo in our Falim Exhibition two years ago. What’s fascinating about this hawker on wheels, in that he’s determined to peddle his wares – in spite of the traffic along the road 🙂

I wonder what he was selling. On another note, does anyone recognise the building in the background?

April 2012

‘Pejabat Pos Besar’, Ipoh

By |2012-04-25T09:31:16+08:00April 18th, 2012|Categories: history, Identify Photographs, Ipoh Town, Memories, Natural Heritage|Tags: , , , , |

Here’s a rare picture of the former Post Office (behind the Ipoh Town Hall). Notice the stalls beneath the shady tree – and the crowd of patrons too!

We thank Ruth Rollitt for this gem 🙂

Charlie reminds us (#13 below) about Savings Stamps and immediately Hasbi sent us these scans. Thank you both so much.

I never cease to be amazed and fascinated by how well our readers support us. We are so glad to have you all with us. Thank you.

November 2011

From The Star, Thursday 17 November 2011

By |2011-11-20T17:58:49+08:00November 20th, 2011|Categories: ipoh, People|Tags: , , , , |

Although we would not normally republish an article from a newspaper for reasons of copyright, in this case we have been asked to do so by local residents who are sick to death of this problem. Having seen the awful state of the park we are glad to help.

What is starnge that not so many months ago when the Sultan took his regular morning walk the park was much cleaner and had very few hawkers. It seems that since he no longer visits the park it has deteriorated dramatically. That’s food for thought, isn’t it!

We hope that Star Publications, being a public spirited organisation, will not object to this blog.

The text read:

Residents complain of hawkers marring park


THE presence of hawkers has ruined the beauty of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park, popularly known as Polo Ground, in Ipoh.

Visitors to the park and nearby residents are complaining that hawkers’ vans, tables and chairs occupy precious parking space designated for park users while rubbish is strewn all over the area and across the road at the homes of residents.

Jogger Albert Lau said the once peaceful residential suburb had been turned into a “market” with people selling produce from their car boots in the morning on weekends.

“There is massive traffic congestion there, especially on Persiaran Brash, when motorists stop by to patronise the stalls.

“They park just about anywhere and everywhere.

“I pity the residents. Very often, they can’t enter or leave their homes because motorists have parked in front of their gates,” said Lau.

A resident, who only wished to be known as Tan, said Persiaran Brash was like a “glutton street” with stalls offering food ranging from laksa to rojak throughout the day, adding that some of the stalls even operated at night.

“Evidently, there is a public demand for laksa sold by the hawkers at Polo Ground.

“But peddling from vans by the roadside is not only an eyesore for the community, it also means uncertainty for the hawkers as their business is affected by the sun and the rain,” he said.

The hawkers, Tan said, should be relocated to a designated hawker centre with better facilities.

“The community cares about the fate of the hawkers.

“They, like us, only want to earn a living but they have to learn that it cannot be done at the expense of other people,” he added.

Tan said several complaints had been forwarded to the Ipoh City Council and state government. Yet, the problem remains.

“If the council is wary of being unpopular with the hawker community, it must be prepared to risk losing the respect and support of the rest of the community.

“What good is all the greenery, trees, beautiful landscape and natural environment when the long stretch of hawkers on the entire street right next to the park, takes away all the beauty,” said Tan.

Datuk Bandar Datuk Roshidi Hashim acknowledged that the council had received complaints about the hawkers.

He said the council’s proposal to relocate the hawkers to a nearby site had been met with resistance although it would continue to pursue the matter for an amicable solution.

“I hope the matter will not be politicised. The people must understand that decisions made by the council are for their own benefit,” he said.

August 2011

Where Can We Find Them?

By |2011-08-24T10:43:10+08:00August 24th, 2011|Categories: Identify Photographs, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , |

Looking for fresh food with a good bargain? Nothing like visiting the local markets, eh? Here we have a couple of pictures (taken in 1988), showing hawkers at a local market….YOUR task for today – tell us WHERE these pictures were taken! 🙂 Perhaps there are some clues in the background that might help you.

June 2010

The forgotten skillful scissors sharpener of Ipoh….

By |2010-07-03T08:23:19+08:00June 25th, 2010|Categories: Ipoh Town, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Dad has only a primary education. Without a stable job, it is difficult to feed a large family. We have already pawned whatever that can be pawned. We were close to living in poverty.

Finally, Grandma let out the front portion of #188 to a couple who turned it into a mahjong parlor.  Many whores, massage ladies, bargirls, pimps, hawkers, taxi drivers and housewives came in for several rounds. It became a very noisy place, sometimes extending into the wee small hours. Many times fights broke out and the police were called in to break them up. What was once a home to us suddenly became a vice den filled with cigarette smoke and vulgar languages.  Sometimes we could not even hear our own voice with all the noises around us.

We kept to ourselves, spending our time mostly upstairs but it was already filled to the brim with tenants. There is hardly any space left for us to study in. This was the last straw for Dad. In a fit, he kicked all the mahjong players out and took back the shop for us to study in peace.

In his early days, Dad was trained in a mechanical work shop in Batu Gajah before the Japanese invasion interrupted his apprenticeship.


 He quickly got hold of some motor parts and assembled them into something you see in these pictures. I really do not know what to call it. There is no name for it. We simply called it “the motor”.  It was this device that gave our family hopes again. More importantly, it put food on our table and saw all of us through school.

You see, with this device, Dad started another business. He cycled to all the tailor shops, hair salons and garment  factories in Ipoh town, offering to sharpen their scissors.  In the beginning, business was quite scarce. Nobody would trust him with their cutting tools. After all, he was just a new kid on the block in this trade.

There were some established ones in town. There is one at Cockman Street, next to the shop that sells joss sticks and paper offerings. Others operated along back alleys in the old town area, doing their business long before my Dad appeared in the picture.

However, with patience and skill, he soon won them over. Before long, they discovered that the sharpness lasts longer compared to those done by others. Moreover, Dad charged the same like the rest, RM1 for a pair. Within 2 years, he managed to build a base of regular customers.

He even painted his own signboard and put it in front of the shop every morning before he started work. I remembered it was a big scissors with a light blue background. The blades were painted in silver while the handles were in black. It was just a picture, without words.

Dad used sharpening stones or whetstones to sharpen the scissors.  Some came in the shape of a small circular wheel which was fixed to the motor. Others were simply blocks of rough or smooth stones.


They were used separately or in combination, depending on the size, length and quality of the scissors. Normally the bigger, longer and superior blades were sharpened using the motor while the smaller, shorter and inferior ones were done by hand only, to prevent them from breaking.

Yes, the blades can break under intense pressure! I have seen this before and in the end, Dad has to compensate his customer with a new pair of scissors.

To sharpen a pair of scissors, Dad unscrewed the bolt and nut to separate the two blades. Dipping the scissors and sharpening stone into a pail of water to make them wet, he would slide the beveled edge on one side of each blade against the stone.  He has to slide the entire length of the blade many times before the scissors is sharp enough to be oiled and screwed back.

Sometimes it took 2 or 3 hours to sharpen one and sometimes, in less than half an hour, depending on the scissors. He also sharpened kitchen knives and all kinds of cutting tools.

It was hard work. It was a one man show. With so many scissors to be sharpen and everyone wanted it done quickly, Dad has to work from morning till night, standing on his feet. He could not get the work done sitting down because, to slide the blade, he needed to use force.

Therefore, his feet would get swollen by the end of the day. His hands numbed and his back pained by the many hours of bending over the work table. Sometimes he accidentally cut his fingers and bled. With a bandaged hand, he continued with the work because he has datelines to meet and many mouths to feed.

Many customers told Dad he was the best scissors sharpener in town. They wanted him to sharpen their scissors in the quickest possible time. Of course Dad could not meet their demands because he has so many scissors waiting for him to sharpen. It is piling up by the day.

“If you wanted it to be sharpen quickly, then please go to other scissors sharpener. Here, you have to wait longer as you can see the pile of scissors and I am doing the work alone!” he could AFFORD TO SCOLD his customers. Many were fearful of him but they loved his skill.

In the end, they meekly gave in and left their cutting tools with Dad. Many bought extra scissors to use while waiting for Dad to sharpen theirs. They preferred to wait for several days rather than go elsewhere. They knew they left their tools in good hands. Throughout all the years, no customers complained about Dad’s work, except that he was rather fierce when pressured!

When I was in Std 6, some foreign tourists past by Dad’s work place which was at the back portion of the shop. They were fascinated to see such a trade done in a traditional manner and decided to video and photograph him as he goes about doing his work.

Many people in the neighborhood called Dad “Scissors Sharpener Uncle” and Mom “Scissors Sharpener Aunty”. When I took taxis in front of Rex Cinema, many taxi drivers who knew Mom and Dad even called me “Scissors Sharpener Daughter”!! LOL.

Dad toiled on until all his children finished school and were able to stand on their own. By then he was old and haggard, having slogged most of his life. As a result of working too hard, it put a toll on his health. His heart became weak, his hands stiff with arthritis and his legs from rheumatism.

Dad retired in 1996 after 25 years in this business.  He spent the remaining years nursing his health and staying home resting after working hard most of his life.

This article is a tribute to Dad, a very determined man who believed in nothing and no one, except his own pair of hands and who overcame all odds that life threw into his path, without any help from anyone. I am very proud of him.

I am still keeping this motor with me as a remembrance of Dad who was once a very skillful scissors sharpener in Ipoh. It is a waste that his hand painted signboard became rusty after 25 years and he threw it away when he finally called it a day. But he gave me a pair of scissors and a few whetstones to keep as well.


Ipoh My Home Town

By |2010-10-12T22:31:40+08:00June 20th, 2010|Categories: Heritage Books, ipoh, Memories, People|Tags: , , , , , , |

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Above is the first draft cover of a new book that will be published as soon as we can fill the blank pages with your reminiscences of growing up in Ipoh. Text will be in the English language.

ipohWorld will take on the task of collating, editing and dealing with the publishing and printing aspects, but the contents must come from you, as I grew up in UK. Now of course we do have some excellent articles on this blog already but much more is needed if we are to be able to produce the quality book we seek.

We need much more about your schooldays, going to the movies (or storytellers street), Jubilee Park, the hawkers, the sounds they made (tock tock, ting ting etc), where they congregated (Convent rear entrance and Theatre Street for example), the food they sold (and more. Let us not forget the ice cream potong man and his gambling game, or the Milo man on his bicycle, the roti man and the Indian milk seller. Then of course there is home life, your parents, your neighbour’s profession, street games, rickshaws, trishaws, marketing with mum, local day trips, happy or sad times, festivals etc etc. Since I have lived in Ipoh I have heard so many stories and it is time you wrote them down for following generations. 

But please understand that the work must come from YOU. All races, creeds are welcome to take part as long as you spent some time in Ipoh and have a story to tell.

Every contributor who has a story published will be presented with a personal copy. WE look forward to your support.

Please send all articles and high resolution (600dpi is perfect) scanned photographs to us at info@ipohworld.org and don’t worry about your spelling or grammar, we can soon sort those out. But don’t forget, no contributions means no book! Articles may be between 500 and 1750 words and more than one article reflecting different aspects of your young life are welcome.

And please understand that regard to content and selection of stories, the Editor’s decision is FINAL.

June 2009

The Beef Noodle Family of Ipoh

By |2011-08-11T12:31:49+08:00June 22nd, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town, People|Tags: , , , , , |

The photographs, taken by a Japanese tourist, show Ipoh’s famous Beef Noodle Stall in operation in Theatre Street in 1968 where it served the people of Ipoh for more than 50 years, until they were forced by legislation to move to a central hawkers area, known locally as Rainbow City. They have been at this second site for more than 20 years. Consequently, the stall has been in operation by the same family in Ipoh for more than 70 years.

The business was founded by Lee Cheong who was born in Phunyu, Guandong in 1902 and first came to Malaya in 1916 to help his father, already in Malaya, to sell rice on their stall in Kuala Lumpur. After some time he returned to China, but times were very tough there and so in 1922 he returned to Malaya and found employment as a supervisor (kepala) in the tin mine of Cheong Yook Chong near Kuala Lumpur. However by the mid 1930s the world depression had taken its toll on tin mining and many unemployed coolies had to return to China to take up hawking or begging in order to survive.

Lee Cheong decided that a move to Ipoh and the new profession of a beef noodle hawker would be the best thing for him, which as it turned out was absolutely correct as he successfully created a long term family business and had eight children, all born in Ipoh.

The photograph on the left shows eldest daughter Yea Sin busily preparing the succulent beef that is the hallmark of their success, together with the home produced noodles and chili sauce made fresh daily. The second photograph shows father Lee Cheong, the founder, measuring out a good handful of noodles and in the background younger daughter, Li Lin, polishing a traditional Cockerel bowl (like those on the counter and still in use today) and the showcase full of freshly made noodles. Both daughters continue to work at their stall, now in 2009, on a regular basis.

There are more photographs and information about this family on our database archive.

As there are some additional, recent comments about this blog I decided to upload another photo.

 Here we have the stall in 2007 with the normal team that provide us with their traditional beef noodles. Note the cockerel bowls on the counter, the same ones as used in Theatre Street more than 40 years ago. 



An E-mail from A Reader

By |2009-06-17T06:02:56+08:00June 17th, 2009|Categories: Ipoh Town|Tags: , , , , |

Upgrade and renovation of fine building need to be tastefully done (architecturally) example the Ipoh High Court, Extension to St Michael school.

Tent structure extension to the Ipoh railway station is foreign to the resident’s architecture is to be avoided.

Hawkers in Malaysia must stop discharging waste into public drains, rivers for it promotes disease and vermins. They need to stationed in premises that discharge waste into manholes and sewerage treatment.

A recycling organisation needs to be set up to reduce waste and allow for recycle.

Thank you

Lim Peng Keang
Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia

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