Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Raya Craze - 8 Aug 2013

We played tour guides during the recent Raya holidays. Normally we would rather stay put in KL as it's usually deserted during the holiday. In our group, there're 13 people and one toddler. Perhaps it coincided with a long school break, so people could travel on different days, that's why we're spared from long traffic jam. So far so good..... until we reached Ipoh. 

All hotels, big or small, were fully booked. Coffee shops were crazily crowded with people sitting as well as standing and waiting by the side of the tables. There's barely space to walk. A popular 2-storey dim sum restaurant was so packed until the customers have to wait on the roadside. The restaurants actually allowed people to stand around, crowding the places making them unbearably stuffy and hot. It's quite an experience for us and our visitors; we've never seen anything like this though we visit Ipoh so often. We heard that people started coming in at 6.30am as soon as the shops were opened.

It was chaos in Ipoh town!

These people have been queueing under the hot sun at noon, cos there's nowhere to stand in the shops. To eat one type of food ie the famous chicken rice with bean sprout! And there's more than a dozen of such restaurants selling similar food on the same street.

Unbelievably we could get two tables in one of the few 'air-con' restaurants there after waiting like forever. It's too much hassle to get out of the place cos everywhere was more or less the same. 

This day we saw a thin line between Asians' love for food and our "kiasu" syndrome. The food was reasonable but certainly didn't call for such chaos.

I think chilling out at Burps & Giggles for coffee and cakes was the best decision. Coffee, food, environment, the company - all great! Such a contradiction to the overcrowded coffee shops besides it. Hard to imagine a place like this smack in the midst of old shophouses. 

I've written about this place, located at the back of Sekeping Kong Heng. It was great just to walk around the premise. Much of the heritage exterior was still intact, and you would probably walk past this place without even noticing it.

We felt so relaxed here, free to walk around and explore the paintings, charming ornaments, the rustic furniture, the greens etc - it was a feast to our eyes. 

If you can't make it to Penang, don't worry. There's some street art here as well and the Ipoh famous Concubine Lane. Come and visit before it turns commercial.

Known as the Concubine Lane, a narrow alleyway in between two rows of shophouses. There're plans now to conserve and redevelop the place, else it will all crumble away.

This alley leads to the street food haven, be brave to maneuver amongst the crowds and traffic. "Dining outside" is allowed.

Taiping is another good, quiet place to escape the crowds and enjoy some reasonably good food. It's also hard to get hotel rooms at the last minute, but we somehow got three. We knew instantly why there're still rooms for us - it was such a dilapidated hotel.....

Oh, how we love the iconic rain trees at Taiping Lake Gardens. They create such a natural arch over the road that goes around the lakes.

What else to do with small kids in Taiping? A visit to Taiping Zoo was obvious. Entrance fee was very cheap; RM12 (adult) and RM8 (child). But there was nothing much to talk about, it was in a bad state. There were few things worth mentioning about the zoo - they've many huge crocodiles, and the 3 active Malayan sun bears. It's quite unusual for visitors to get such a close view of them, separated only by a simple fence gate. They're unique to South East Asia so I wonder why we do not highlight or value them like panda to China.

Also known as "Honey Bears" 

The kids have a blast, especially fun for our 2 cars to communicate thru walkie-talkies so we didn't feel we're travelling separately. As adults, we've so much pre-conceived ideas and high expectations. Sometimes, these can ruin our day and relationships. We need to return to the child-like state and it's not just about happiness and innocence. Consider, as children, they are naturally imaginative, curious, able to play without a worry in their minds. They live so much in the present, they play and lose themselves in play and are open to all possibilities. 

A serene, scenic view of the lake at night! 

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