|Ian, my new friend.|
Many people, even the residents of Ipoh, Malaysia, questioned why in the world I’d want to spend time in this “small” town of 700,000. One young hairstylist commented, “There’s nothing to do here.” Since Ipoh is not a typical tourist destination, I understood what he meant, but often people are blinded by familiarity.
|One amazing mural|
Fortunately for me, not everyone feels that way. A very interesting young man, Ian, loves his hometown and spent four hours with me over two days proudly showing me what it has to offer… a lot. I’ve been having problems with plantar fasciitis in my left heel, so trudging through several of the attractions was off the table, but he took me to see some of the things your average tourist wouldn’t see. This is just the type of experience I’m seeking in my travels.
|Kek Lok Tong temple cave|
Ipoh is a town made rich in the 1920s and 30s by the mining of tin. Fortunes were made but the industry has long since seen its heyday. There are still wealthy people here, some from the riches of their mining history; the lovely residential areas with their tree-lined streets and decorative light posts that center-divide the thoroughfares giving evidence of that fact.
|The garden beyond the cave|
Ian drove me through the Old Town, weaving through the back streets to show me some of the murals Ipoh is famous for, treated me to an iced white coffee (also something for which the town is noted) and included a ride into the hilly countryside to see temple caves, the most outstanding of which - Kek Lok Tong - burrows through the mountainside and opens into a tiny valley that has been transformed into a Japanese garden. It was awe-inspiring and deserves more time and attention than we could give it that day.
Day two was a lunch date at a well-known café on the infamous Concubine Lane and a trek to the deserted grounds of the Iskandar Polo Club, which hugs a limestone hillside. I really loved the watercress and roasted pork over rice - an incredible flavor - however, arriving at a verdant polo field (I’ve never seen one before) and strolling over to the pond where the only other people were fishing in the shade of a towering cliff of limestone was the treat of the day. Here I could picture coming to fish myself or simply sitting in the quiet for hours on end.
To say I had a satisfying tour by a true local is to understate the experience. I had two days of adventure with a generous and intelligent guide who took me on out of the goodness of his heart. My deep thanks to you, Ian.
|Watercress and roasted pork - YUM!|
|Lunch at Restoran Wong Koh Kee|
|Another fabulous mural!|