Two day food fest in Ipoh, no not IHOP
Hire car collected, the two and a half hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, navigated by maps and phone sat nav, was absolutely gorgeous, the roadside immaculately maintained and forest beyond dense and lush. On the approach to Ipoh soaring mountains appeared, their bottoms scarred by mining but majestic and awe inspiring all the same.
We found the French hotel easily enough and loved it, the F and R from the sign visible from our lovely fifth floor compact room, which was clean clean clean. The hotel is located perfectly about a 15 minute walk to Old Town and just around the corner from several great eateries. Although it seemed every eatery in Ipoh was great. Parking was easy and a tiny block away and the only annoyance other than breaking my toe, not sure if I can blame them for my clumsiness, was that they had a stupid wifi system. It only allowed 2 gadgets to be logged on at a time and a silly double log in which made it impossible to use the netgear to create a secure network, really not the worst thing in the world and we would definitely stay here again.
We spent a relaxing two days searching out wonderful street art in Old Town and trying local specialties such as beansprout, chicken, noodle soup, which is not the all in one soup we were imagining but a dish of beansprouts, one of poached chicken and a bowl of noodle soup. We also tried sugar palm chicken – unfrickingbelieveable, sweet and fragrant pandan tarts, light and fluffy steamed bread and kaya, huge fun flavoured ice balls and returned to old favourites like dim sum, BBQ pork noodle wonton soup and lime juice. You do have to get used to being stared at when you travel to Asia. I smile and mostly don’t mind it but every now and then find it a little intimidating, especially when entering a packed hawker centre and everyone looks up, but anyone we’ve interacted with has been very friendly and welcoming. We were offered cutlery a few times this trip but stuck to chopsticks, I’m happy to be the source of someone’s amusement and anyway I’m pretty proficient and am even managing the slippiest of noodles with only the occasional mishap.
We had charming personalised leather tags made at Burps & Giggles in Old Town, before realising that leather is the usual third wedding anniversary gift and with ours coming up next week (I know it feels like forever I’ve been annoying him with my morning glee) we decided they would make great anniversary gifts as well as mementos from Ipoh, sweet and while waiting for them to be personalised, had a really tasty salad and cake at the quirky adjoining cafe.
We explored a huge indoor wet market with row upon row of the most vibrant and ripe vegetables, as well as some pretty eye watering smells. We also discovered crumbling buildings, some being reclaimed from decay and made into wonderfully peaceful upcycled spaces, trees, bricks, people, all in harmony. Many of the buildings are reminiscent of George Town but most of the beautiful tile floors we loved so much in GT have been covered over with generic grey ones although they do seem to have a few more sidewalks which is nice. For a country known for its rain as much as its sun there sure are a huge amount of slippery floor surfaces totally unsuitable in the rain, especially for someone as already challenged on two feet as me, that I’ve only broken a toe and not a leg is only down to Jhubzs iron grip on me.
Other than the food and art, which were both superb, the highlights of our trip were rescuing a kitty from a storm drain next to a busy road, to cheers from a passing motorist. JHubz is pretty glad we do not live here as he thinks we’d have a thousand cats by now, and he’s not wrong. And several people in trucks, cars and on motorbikes shouting ‘hello mate’ at us as they passed, which was pretty awesome.
We left Ipoh, wishing they had more crosswalks, happy to have been, full of stomach, sore of toe (well me anyway) and began our slow journey across the magnificent landscape of the Cameron Highlands Xx