A Tourist Walk: Old Town: Route 1

Text and photos by Lau Sook Mei

After waiting anxiously for weeks, the Ipoh Heritage Walk finally kicked off on the 25th April. The walk was jointly organized by the Perak Tourism Association and Tourism Malaysia in collaboration with Kinta Heritage. Its aims were bi-fold: to promote Ipoh as a tourist destination and to launch Kinta Heritage’s Ipoh Heritage Trail Map 1, the trail we took, which covers the north-western part of Ipoh Old Town, where monumental structures reflect early colonial town planning.

The registration tent with the Railway Station as its backdrop.

More than one hundred turned up for the walk. There were locals as well as tourists. Even Taiping Heritage Society sent a contingent. Freebies were given away: the map, a beaked-cap and a bottle of water.

The Perak Heritage Society was represented by Mohd Taib, Hong, Eddie, Sundra, Mike and yours truly; Committee Member Samuel was enlisted as a walking guide. The participants were separated into five groups, each with around twenty people. Obviously, each guide had his own interpretation and story. I wonder who was the most entertaining!

The PHS team.

We started on time, at 8.30am, with Peter Bucher as the heritage guide to our group, which included Eddie and Sundra. The youngest in our group was a fourteen-year-old boy who took the initiative to come solo since his parents were not free to accompany him. He knew about the walk through the media and, this being his first heritage walk, he found it enthralling.

Along the way...

The trail took us to 24 heritage buildings. For a better understanding of the trail, visit www.myheritagemap.com or better still, get a copy of the map from Kinta Heritage.

Work in progress at FMS.

The impressive Hongkong And Shanghai Bank, 1931.

Straits Trading Building (now the bank, OCBC).

Old Town as seen from across the Ipoh Padang.

In the safety of a group, we wandered into back alleys with the hope of discovering hidden gems, but that was not to be. What greeted us were eye-sores.

Tattered information board outside the Court House.

We were disappointed with the Birch Memorial Clock Tower. The ground  lacked maintenance and the clock no longer worked. There was rubbish everywhere.

None of the four clock faces tells the right time.

Unsightly mess at the base of the clock tower.

What can be said about the level of cleanliness and maintenance of our city? What picture would all these unfortunate eye-sores paint in the eyes of the tourists? What would they tell their friends back home? Would they come back?

As concerned citizens we certainly hope that the authorities would do something to improve the image of this city that tin built in order not to jeopardise expensive tourism programmes.

The walk was well-organised. Participants were treated to brunch at the ‘ Padang canteen’, and each received a certificate of participation. The heritage guides were gifted with a souvenir, and, to round off the morning and mark the occasion, a group photograph was taken.

The PHS team having brunch.

All in all, it was a Sunday morning well-spent.


12 Responses to “A Tourist Walk: Old Town: Route 1”

  1. 1 Ruth Iversen Rollitt May 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Congratulations! What a great article!! Great photos (taken with Hong’s new camera??) great fun. I look forward to seeing more! Well done! Ruth

  2. 2 nasruroji May 5, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Such an interesting destination to visit. Nice place, nice picture…..

  3. 3 HeriHong May 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the report, Sook Mei.

    The clock tower is such an important tourist spot and yet the food court there, Medan Selera Dato Sagor, is just a bad reflection of Ipoh, the food haven of Malaysia. Still, there I enjoy my Sunday ‘colonial brunch’ – half-boiled eggs on toasts. In the shade of the big tree, with a view to the silent clock tower bathed in afternoon sun, I used to enjoy my capati and teh tarik until the tree got chopped off last year. Psst, I noticed two officers from DBI in the walk!

    The clock tower is on the same axis with Panglima Lane, where you would have noticed that the tower was blocked from view because of wild vegetation growing out of the back section of the ‘Dramatists Hostel’ – with Kong Heng on its ground floor. By the way, did you hear that the block which includes the Hostel will soon be re-developed? I heard that the Hostel will be saved but not the service buildings in the back section. Would you blog this wonderful service courtyards, which are probably the last of its kind in Ipoh?

    To Ruth: Sook Mei took the photos with her own camera. I have yet to use my photos for our PHS blog. On this, I have discussed with Sook Mei. I will start a series on the buildings of BM Iversen. But don’t hold your breath! 🙂

    • 4 perakheritage May 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

      Thank you, HeriHong, for the information on this particular block. This block includes one of the last few remaining barber shops in town (along Belfield Street) and also a shop selling products made from cane on Leech Street. Wonder what would happen to them in the event that re-development be carried out. Meanwhile, we shall consider about blogging the service courtyards.

  4. 5 HeriHong May 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    When you go to check out the service courtyard, beware of the fierce dog guarding the entrance. Best you ask the stall holders and get them to help you. Good luck!

  5. 6 btyap May 19, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Hi , it looks very interesting.
    I’ve studied in Ipoh before and am now a resident here.
    I’d like to know more about the “tourist walk”. When will you organize it again and how can I join it?
    Thanks. Yap.

    • 7 perakheritage May 22, 2010 at 1:23 am

      Thank you, Yap, for dropping us a line. Ipoh is rich in heritage. It’s great you’ve come to live here. The Old Town area can be easily explored on foot but just be careful with the traffic. You should also get a guide map from Kinta Heritage Sdn. Bhd. – it’s free. Do contact them at http://www.kintaheritage.com

  6. 8 Paulo September 19, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Greetings, I am looking forward to join your Walking tours

    My wife and I did a similar walking tour of KK city Sabah
    and we really enjoyed the sights and sound.

    As Ipoh is now easily accessible from Spore, direct flights
    instead of the long 8 hours bus ride.

    It is only a matter of time more and more Sporeans visit Ipoh for your Ipoh hor fun, char kway teow and popiah etc , already makes me hungry ….

    Now we have another alternative for food and sights instead of just the usual weekend trip to Melaka

    Keep up the good work…


    • 9 perakheritage September 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm

      Hello, Paulo, thanks for the encouragement. Hope you and your wife would drop by Ipoh one day. If you love food, you’ll be spoilt for choice for Ipoh is known as a “hawkers’ haven”. The food and lovely sights of Ipoh would definitely keep you occupied. Cheers!

  7. 10 Belum Outdoor Adventure May 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Congratulations! We understand the Heritage Walk now is every Saturday @ 8 AM, starting from the railway station Ipoh. Our friends would love to join this walk. A healthy morning with a lot of learning experience.

    BOA Team.

  8. 11 lydia June 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Heritage Walk now is every Saturday @ 8 AM, starting from the railway station Ipoh.
    is this true and verified?

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