Reflections on Ipoh - 13th March

Reflections on 7 days in Ipoh, Perak Malaysia.

We have settled into the rhythm of life here. Ipohites have a different way of life to that in Oz. At about 7am the streets of Ipoh are empty, Peak hours are around 1pm and 8pm. Eating seems to be based on the temperature and hunger rather than the 3 meals a day western culture. The street cafes open around 10am (as do most businesses and shopping centres.) Residents consume what we would describe as “Brunch” in the street cafes and Dim Sum houses. Most of them close by 2pm until the evening when eating starts again. You can still eat at some cafes between 1pm and dusk but our observations are that the food is looking a little tired and maybe should not be introduced to the more delicate western alimentary tract!

This eating pattern is climate driven and makes common sense. The temperature fluctuates from 24C overnight to abut 33C to 35C during the day year round. Eating in the cool of the evening is eminently sensible and many eateries remain busy until very late. Hence the later morning start (very similar to Madrid or Seville)

Taxis are so cheap that in town public transport is non-existent. As mentioned earlier Malaysians do not walk so footpaths are very narrow and challenging. Once again driven by climate as our long midday walks have been quite unpleasant and I recited “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun” as ‘we strode purposely along the stifling streets. We are reassessing our penchant for long walks in Ipoh.

Hospital services at Fatimah are western standards and Kuala Lumpur is just over 2 hours south by road to the excellent Private hospitals if the need arises.

Living costs are very low. With long term rental of an apartment outside town about A$120 a week or to purchase aroundA$150.000 to A$250.000 it is a very real option for Oz boomers to relocate here. The gated communities with security and golf courses would suit many boomers. One could live on the Oz pension and save.

 Ipoh is about food, layback lifestyle and the people.

Ipoh may shock some Boomers that have no Asian travel experience and I would not recommend it as a relocation destination to the average suburban Oz Boomer as the sights, sounds and smells may be too confronting.

Now come the answer to the question I know you want to ask. Would we move to Ipoh to live permanently?

I will let you know next week!

The Hawkers market last night was adjacent to Ipoh’s largest primary School and the second shift children were just leaving as we arrived at 6pm. We noticed the emergence of the Mainland Chinese problem - The Little Emperor (where the one child policy has caused the child to be over indulged). Some of the children (not all) appeared to have been force fed (like a French Goose). We read today in the paper that Malaysia is suffering an obesity epidemic like Oz and here was living proof. 

We have also noticed that apart from Chinese Dim Sum eating houses we have not seen a lot of elderly Malaysians. The answer may lie in the Life Expectancy Charts showing Male Life Expectancy at 71.4 years and Females at 77.48 years, somewhat lower than Oz! Not sure yet if it is genetics or lifestyle.

Not the Cameron Highlands we saw

Not the Cameron Highlands we saw

Just returned from daytrip to the Cameron Highlands.

We were both horrified at the destruction of what was once a pristine landscape. After about 2 hours drive through quarried hills on the flat and the pristine jungle forest we arrived at The Cameron Highlands. The site was just large plastic covered hydroponic vegetable, strawberry and flower farms inter-dispersed with horrible apartment blocks! Any beauty that once was here has been destroyed.

We were aghast! The only saving grace was the cooler temperatures. Visited attractions such as Butterfly Farm, Tea plantations, Cactus farms all OK but not worth the drive.

Our Driver Sam (a 3131 year old in his words) was a  62 year old ethnic Chinese who had lived in Ipoh all his life. He said it used to be wonderful in the Highlands until about 25 years ago. The rampant clearing has caused landslips everywhere and the only attempt at repair is to cover with blue plastic sheets to cover them in the hope that the rain would not wash it away further. We remarked that all the plastic hydroponic covers would be more noticeable than The Great Wall Of China from space!

Arrived back at hotel disillusioned.