I even consider Singapore as my second home but nothing is closer to me than the old world charm of Ipoh.
At first I tried to ignore it but at last, I’ve made up my mind and Ipoh is the best place for me to do so. Reason being a) it’s quiet; b) I can go around town on foot; and c) I was craving for the oxtail soup and fried rice from First Coffee House.
Unlike road travelling, the train is rather smooth and free of any bumpy rides. It was a sunny day in Ipoh and as usual, when it is sunny, the heat can be absolutely scorching, even at 5.30 p.m. in the evening.
From there, I walked all the way to Kampung Paloh, where my personal sanctuary the M Boutique Hotel is located. I call it my personal sanctuary because it jives well with my soul and my arty personality. No other hotel in Ipoh could give me the kind of experience I had at M Boutique Hotel.
Passing by the busy streets, one can always make pit stops at Ipoh’s points of interests such as the Little India.
In a gist, Little India to Ipoh is what Brickfields or Jalan Masjid India to the KL residents: a commercial and cultural enclave dominated by Indian traders, brimming with century-old shop houses doused in coats of colourful hues.
According to historical records, the mosque was built in 1912 by Wan Muhammad Saleh, Superintendent of Penghulus and assistant collector of Land Revenue during the Frank Swettenham administration.
Just as when I came here for the first time, my heart was filled with excitement; anticipating the kind of surprise that awaits me in my room.
I then took the lift and made my way to the first floor – the adventure floor – the same floor where I stayed during my first visit. If the previous trip saw me luxuriating in a sizeable room with a lofty queen bed and rustic settings, then surprise, surprise … my accommodation for the night was the Adventure Club suite.
The walls are decorated with Portuguese text (Espingardas, Revolwers Pistolas) that can be roughly translated as rifles, revolvers and pistols.
There is an interesting stiory behind the text. According to Mr Lloyd Gan, General Manager of M Boutique Hotel, the origin of the text can be traced back to a local historical figure by the name of D’Arcy Hugh Hilton Bird. Originated from Yorkshire, England, D’Arcy came from a lineage of Portugese master swordsmen, known as Esgrima.
It was written in the closing years of the 17th century in Lisbon, and describes the work of three brothers, leading gunsmiths of their day, two of whom signed the book and the third of which remains anonymous. In the later years, D’Arcy was enlisted in the Militia and was assigned to the Fourth Battalion.
As years ensued, he made many friends and organised numerous safari trips into the jungles of Perak, armed with his homemade guns for protection. He later married a local woman, embraced Islam and was named Ismail bin Abdullah. D’Arcy passed away on 25th of November, 1950 and was buried at the Muslim cemetery of Masjid Paloh – the mosque that I passed by on the way to the hotel.
The evening sun permeates through the sheer curtains, layered by beautiful square-patterned shadows of the façade.
Recalling my craving for First Coffee House fried rice and oxtail soup, I left the room and make my way to the town on foot. From the hotel to the main part of the town is quite of a distance but it didn’t matter to me because I lived in this city before and the entire Ipoh is on the back of my hand.
Heritage buildings as old as time could tell were in their utmost splendour as the evening sun cast its light on. My usual gastronomic jaunt Burps & Giggles were filled with people, ditto its neighbour the Patisserie Boutique where I saw people flocking in to take photos using their smartphones.
Post sumptuous dinner that only costs me RM 16.00 (tax included), I made my way around the town which to KL standard, might be quiet even though there were a number of shops opened.
I loitered down to the Gerbang Malam or night flea market where you can find antiques or used items of all sorts at bargain price. Of course haggling is a must and the best hagglers always win.
For example, all items in the room such as robes, the bath towels (the terry fabric is so plush, I love it) or the slippers are handcrafted in small batches. And when they are made in small batches, rest assured one can be assured by its unparalleled quality.
Since I was too tired to venture out of the hotel, I made my way downstairs and met the amicable General Manager himself. So we headed to Myth – a newly opened eatery outlet sporting thematic décor akin to hotel itself - where we had intellectual conversation on almost everything amidst thirst-quenching passion fruit soda served in jars – so New Orleans indeed.
Thank goodness for an interactive space at the other wing of the floor that houses a gym, a self-service laundry area, a conference room and two MAC computers with high speed internet.
The mattress was so comfortable indeed; I refused to wake up albeit my train was scheduled to leave at 12. But all good things must come to the end. I left my abode for the night and made my way to the check-out counter.