…such a scene (picture above) was a common sight around Ipoh Town. I never had a pair of striped pajamas, but I do remember (as a child) walking about in cartoon-themed pajamas and bed-hair! This cute picture was sent to us by Ko-chi Wai, who also included this message:
My mum (Lau Siew Hwa), my uncle, and my cousin on the stairs at the side of the Rex Cinema building. On the right one can see the rear part of the row of shop-houses facing Hugh Low St. where my mum’s family stayed in one till late 1990s. One can see the back doors to the shop-houses, as well as the small trap doors at the bottom where the “night soil” buckets were placed. Taken in 1959.
In a previous blog about the Rex Cinema, our fans talked about dragons. Thanks to the helpful staff at the former cinema, we managed to take these pictures (see below).
These were taken from the balcony (now full of mattresses) of the former Rex Cinema. As you can see, the right hand dragon is ‘suffering’ due to the leak in the roof above it – if left unattended to, this beautiful wall-art will be ruined 🙁
The lighting made it difficult to photograph, but somehow we managed. I’m sure there are some professionals out there who (with the proper camera and equipment) could do a better job – we’d be greatful for some better shots of these dragons, which we’d love to feature on our database.
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.
Dad, as I kept a lonely vigil beside your hospital bed
Stroking your soft white hair, caressing your fatigued face
Holding your wrinkled hands, never wanting to let you go
I could hear your pale lips murmuring my name softly
My heart bled to see your body so weak and frail
Tears rolling down as I watched you slowly fading away
And memories of us together just came rushing back
When I was just a boisterous little girl of five or six
You took me to ride on the carousel at Jubilee Park
And you cheered me on as I got onto the giant wheel
We went for white man movies together all over town
I ate peanuts on your laps in front of Rex Cinema
Rain or shine you took me to school on your old bicycle
You taught me how to read, write, draw and color
At times you and Mom ate little so that I can eat more
You toiled from day till night without a whimper
Your feet swollen from many hours of standing
Your hands numbed from working without a rest
And back ached from bending over the work table
It was like this all the years until I grew up
By then it put a severe toll on your health
When I finally blossomed into a pretty young lady
We fought over my choices of boyfriends and suitors
Even the best in my eyes is not good enough for you
They were given the boot and shown the door
At last you gave your blessing but very reluctantly
However your heart melted when you held my babies
I saw you embracing them so tenderly, so lovingly
Every morning I brew your favorite thick Chinese tea
I loved the smell of your cheroot and green color hair gel
I watched you put on your white hat and dark glasses
Humming softly your favorite tunes in the bathroom
But roaring in a thunderous voice whenever you speaks
You are a very strict disciplinarian with a heart of gold
Many people feared and avoided you but I knew better
Our endless trips to the hospital together all the years
I am exhausted from arguing with the doctors and nurses
Whether I should let you know about the prostate cancer
They said nothing can be done to stop the metastasis
That you are actually just buying time in this world
I really wanted to spare you from the painful truth
In the end I chose not to tell you, please do forgive me
When Mom suddenly left us without a word years ago
We comforted each other in those sad and lonely days
You only trusted me, and no one else, to take care of you
It is a privilege I valued and cherished very much
On this Father’s Day, I wanted to let you know again
That I am very grateful and proud to be your daughter
I loved you with all my heart and I still missed you badly
Note: Dad in his vintage dark glasses. Can you spot his white cowboy hat? He was flanked by my two kids whom he adored. Later, Dad passed on from pneumonia when the cancer metastasized to his lung. He was 87.
Happy Father’s Day to all the guys who played a part in bringing us into the world, then slogged to bring us up and finally released us to spread our wings!