Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ipoh - An Adventure of Sorts

After a gastronomic thrill on the northern island dubbed as the Pearl of the Orient, we headed back south to a town in a neighbouring state known for its tin mining in the past, limestone hills and caves, 'white' coffee and pretty lasses (they say it's because of the fresh spring waters there!?). Ipoh has always been a town we bypassed on the way to Penang. Come to think of it, if not for E having relatives there, I'd probably not have visited it at all. This year, ACE made a record number of three visits to Ipoh - once in August for his cousin's wedding, once in early December for his uncle's 80th birthday, and recently, this food and cave-visiting trip with my parents and younger brother's family that I'm writing about here.

While there are places to see in Ipoh, although not as many compared to Penang, our main intention of visiting this town was to taste the good Chinese food it's well known for. Ipoh is a smaller town compared to Penang and you need not drive too far to get to any good eating spot. We spent two nights in Ipoh going to a few good Chinese restaurants, coffee shops and Ipoh's dim sum 'landmark', a place named Foh San, which is perpetually crowded on weekdays and weekends. We also did not leave out Ipoh's famous chicken dishes - the beansprout chicken noodles and salt-baked chicken. We also bought some Tambun pomelos and 'heong peng'.

Other than our foodie and cave adventures, we took an unexpected drive to Menglembu, about half hour's drive from Ipoh town. What happened was that our car got hit from the back as we were waiting to exit a junction and after a short discussion with the 'lady in the blue car', we tailed her to her home in the 'groundnut territory' (Menglembu is famous for its groundnuts) to collect compensation for the damage she inadvertently caused as she didn't have enough cash on her when it happened. It's a good thing that no one was hurt and other than exterior damage, our car could still take us around for another day and home safely.

Roast pork knuckle - note the size of the bone!

Steamed cod

Pan fried freshwater prawns

Some of the dim sum we had at Foh San

'Chee cheong fun' and fried radish cake

Self service at Foh San, too many, too greedy...


A long row of shops selling pomelos

Groundnut sculpture at roundabout in Menglembu!

Ipoh is located in the part of Peninsular Malaysia that is saturated with limestone hills and a number of the caves in those hills have become Chinese (Taoist/Buddhist) temples. They are also tourist and outdoor adventure seekers' attractions. We first visited Sam Poh Tong and the one next to it (Ling Sen Tong). These two temples are very well decorated with colourful temple adornments, statues and figurines of religious deities, plus a reasonably nice landscaped garden. Then on our way out of Ipoh to KL, we dropped by the Kek Look Tong cave temple which had a much nicer natural cave formation. These visits were C's first ever experience of caves, where she got to see real stalagmites and stalactites. We could have taken her to see Batu Caves, the other famous Hindu cave temple which is closer to home but we've not gotten around to that (the 272 steps to climb is somewhat a deterrent!).

Front view and entrance to Ling Seng Tong

Coils of incense

Inside Kek Look Tong

Altars inside Kek Look Tong

Cave opening to 'backyard' garden

The 'backyard' garden

After Kek Look Tong, we headed back into town as it was lunchtime. We savoured some coffee shop fare and finally with a full stomach, we headed for home. Halfway into our journey, we stopped at the Bukit Gantang rest stop which has many shops selling local fruits like guavas, sweet corn, mangosteens, and our favourite, the King of Fruits! We ate some of course!

Back home in KL, we went to pick up Rusty who had been in boarding for a whole week. The poor 'boy' displayed mixed feelings upon seeing me -- excited to see a familiar face yet moody because we left him out of our holiday. All the way home in the car, he was just lying down sulking....

Places we ate and bought food at in Ipoh:

Soon Fatt Restaurant
Mun Choong Restaurant
Kong Heng coffeeshop
Skyway Cafe hawker centre
Coffeeshop opposite Lou Wong chicken beansprout noodle
Cowan Street Chicken Beansprout Noodle
Row of shoplots selling Tambun pomelo and heong peng 
Aun Kheng Lim salt baked chicken

Rusty, on a 'happier' day after a trip to the groomers

(A big 'thank you' to my dear and loving parents for sponsoring this Penang/Ipoh family holiday. We rarely get to holiday together given how our lifestyles are in this day and age!)

No comments: