Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
We have enjoyed our time in Ipoh and found many gems (refer to my last two posts). When planning our trip we were undecided about whether to stay in Ipoh or not, especially because our 2006 Lonely Planet Guide said that Ipoh is a bit seedy because of rampant prostitution and travellers would only stop there en route to somewhere else (as an aside today we walked past a shop in a fancy new shopping centre called Rubbers and yes, it was a sex shop, and seemed incongruous considering the number of women walking past wearing hijabs). We decided that Ipoh had enough to offer to warrant a stop for a few days and we got a bargain for accommodation with two rooms at a basic but clean hotel for 510 MYR for 3 nights (less than $200 AUD).
Conversely the entry on Trip Advisor seems to have been written by Ipoh tourism advocates because it is biased and unrealistically positive:
The British colonial city of Ipoh had humble beginnings, but has blossomed into a beautiful cityscape that marries old-world charm with modern amenities. This is a foodie’s city, offering endless street stalls and restaurants all eager to serve up a sample of mouthwatering local fare. Walk it all off on a jaunt through breathtaking limestone caves that seem carved by the capable hands of a higher power
The previous mayor of Ipoh (Roshidi Hashim) at the end of his 6 year term on 3rd December 2013 said:
Ipoh is still a dirty city with rampant illegal dumping of rubbish and construction waste from renovation sites.
The true case lies somewhere in between although I should say that it didn’t feel seedy to us. As my son pointed out today, Ipoh is like home except there aren’t many pedestrian crossings or footpaths and there are street dogs and the drains stink (he’s 4 and I agree with his summary). My suggestion is that the new mayor insist on food vendors no longer dumping their stinking runoff into the drains (we saw interesting algae growing in one drain under a hawker outlet and a rat in another this evening).
The city boomed in the early 1900’s due to tin mining and became dubbed as the city of millionaires. Many aspects of the grandeur of that era remain but most are in varying stages of dilapidation or abandonment due to a decrease in wealth over time. Now is a time of great flux and opportunity in Ipoh because plans are underway:
for a major facelift as it prepares itself to usher in 2020 — the year when Malaysia will become a fully developed country.
Ultimately, both Ipoh new town and old town will undergo a massive makeover… eight entry point projects will be implemented in three phases, at an overall cost of RM3.38 billion.
The taxis of Ipoh are old and often in poor condition and we regularly get pipped by drivers looking for a fare but after some negative experiences we prefer to walk. We were wondering why some drivers are so aggressive and try to overcharge us and the cabs are so old until I read that there are more cabs now than 20 years ago and many less passengers presumably due to higher rates of vehicle ownership and low rates of tourists in Ipoh. As a result the drivers struggle to get enough fares to break even each day (http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Community/2013/12/14/Its-tough-being-a-cabbie-Taxi-drivers-find-it-hard-to-make-ends-meet-as-passengers-dwindle.aspx/)
Here are a few photos from our wanderings today:
Here are some more photos of Ipoh street art: