Ipoh was on my list of must visits while living in Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh is the capital of Malaysia’s Perak state and travel by electric train from KL Sentral is approximately 90 minutes. Ideally, we wanted to stay somewhere within walking distance of the Old Town with an agenda to escape the city buzz and relax walking around the Old Town, experience great food, and visit the cave temples.
The boutique hotel Sarang Paloh, only a short walk of 600 metres from the train station sounded perfect. Sarang Paloh is a heritage stay in the Oversea Building and the Yick Woh building. The art deco façade is beautifully restored along with the interior which is decorated with antiques and preloved old furniture. The restoration is of a high standard and materials as close to the original have been used. The staff are knowledgeable about Ipoh and very helpful. I loved my stay in at Sarang Paloh.
Walkabout: Day One
First up breakfast, we chose to dine at Lim Ko Pi directly next door to Sarang Paloh which was convenient and easy for our first morning brunch. Apparently, their white coffee served with charcoal-toasted bread with butter and egg is a favourite breakfast. I chose an olive leaf rice and veggie dish – which was nice and tasty.
Following breakfast, a short walk into the Old Town armed with my camera and off I was exploring. We traversed the streets slowly to take in the surroundings. Eventually we happened upon the Kong Heng Square, a cluster of World War 11 buildings that have been restored. The square was lively with shoppers checking out craft stores. I spotted a couple of clothing stores and bought a couple of pieces.
Some good reviews tempted us to search out ‘Burps & Giggles’ and I was not disappointed, a perfect café latte and delicious creamy cheesecake with a white chocolate leaf and strawberry atop. Just writing this makes me want another serving! Delicious.
More exploring after a leisurely coffee date meant we ventured along the colourful and busy Lorong Panglima – Concubine Lane – lots of touristy wares, cooling snacks and tourists.
A visit to Plan B for dinner and they didn’t disappoint. A creamy hot chocolate and vegetarian pasta with avocado as an extra, yummy.
Spiritual Adventures: Day Two
We hired a driver for a half day and our first stop was Perak Tong cave temple.
Built in 1926 by a Buddhist priest from China. Chong Sen Yee together with his wife Choong Chan Yoke diligently developed the cave temple and surrounding areas. Chong Sen Yee managed planning and development of the project, while Choong Chan Yoke sought donations to carry out the development, both locally and internationally.
The cave temple has many colourful murals on the walls and calligraphy from the masters.
Next stop the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple.
The temple is set in a huge cave in the limestone outcrops behind Gunung Rapat, about 5km south of Ipoh City. The complex comprises a central altar featuring a number of Buddhist figures as well as various deities of the Chinese pantheon. It is reported that the temple has been used as a place of worship since 1920.
The shape of the cave is said to resemble a carp, and I found the description from the Kek Look Tong website interesting.
“Recognizing that the shape of the cave resembles a carp, renovations to develop the cave have been done mindful of this theme. The front entrance of the cave is likened to the head of the dragon carp, its mouth open to the heavens. The stairs leading downwards to the rear cave entrance symbolizes the throat of the carp, the cavernous back entrance the belly of the fish. There are even gill-like limestone formations on both sides of the “head” and a curious evergreen hanging rock formation, covered with moss, at the hind cavern that resembles the gallbladder. And finally, the pronged flight of stairs that descent unto the car park and pond was specifically made to resemble the tail of a carp.”
After a short drive we arrived at the Gunung Lang Recreational Park which is developed around a scenic backdrop of limestone hills. It was great to see people having fun taking selfies in this beautiful setting with the backdrop of the man-made cascading waterfall atop a limestone hill.
Feeling a little hungry we indulged in juicy Pomelo and the famed Heong Peng (fragrant biscuit.) The biscuit was freshly baked with flaky golden pastry and brown kaya and with a cup of Kopi putih this was a wonderful treat for afternoon tea.
Dinner at the Restoran Yoke Fook Moon for authentic dim sum.
And home to Kuala Lumpur
Goodbye Ipoh and thank your for the relaxing weekend I was seeking.
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