Happy Chinese New Year, guys! Most of you are probably back at work already, but since CNY lasts for 15 days, I think this post doesn’t come too late. As for me, I spent the holidays in my parents’ hometown of Ipoh, Perak. Long ride aside, it was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of KL for a couple of days.
We set off early on Friday morning and got to Ipoh four hours later, no thanks to traffic. After dropping our stuff off at my aunt’s house, we went in search of food. Ipoh has a large Chinese population, so it was no wonder that many restaurants and shops were closed in preparation for reunion dinner that night. We ended up at Woolley Food City, a food court that has been around for ages. You can tell the structure is old, judging by its architecture and the missing letters.
The inside, though, is clean and neat, with a dozen stalls selling typical hawker fare such as noodles and rice. Most of the waiters are from the older generation – something you rarely see in KL, where employers prefer hiring foreigners.
Pi’s fishball noodle soup.
I had Hakka noodles with a side of fishballs, meatballs and tofupok (stuffed beancurd). The noodles were cheap (RM3.50 for a medium portion, which was quite sizable), but the taste was beyond meh. I didn’t like that they added beansprouts in it because it’s my least favourite vegetable after eggplant… didn’t know about it because conventional Hakka Noodles doesn’t have beansprouts; or I would have asked them not to add it in. Soup was full of MSG and the balls didn’t taste good either.
Mi’s bitter gourd pork noodle soup was RM7.50 (!) but the portion was big enough for two.
WOOLLEY FOOD CITY
48-50, Lengkok Canning, Taman Canning, 31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Next, we headed to Wat Siribunya Maggarama, a Thai-Buddhist temple along Jalan Tambun.
Back in the days, the ‘temple’ was just a small shrine with a lot of land. My dad’s fam was poor (grandpa was a cook for an old folks home and he had to support 10 children) and they couldn’t afford a home, so the temple abbot at that time allowed them and a few other families to build temporary homes there until they could find a better place. My dad grew up in a ramshackle wooden house with no plumbing or electricity, sleeping on elevated floorboards in a tiny room shared with my uncles and studying by the light of oil lamps. They eventually moved to a proper house, but the temple still holds a special place in their hearts. In fact, many of my relatives’ ashes, including those of my great grandfather, my grandparents, and my eldest aunt and uncle are kept in the columbarium here.
Offering a prayer candle.
Prayer hall, lined with paintings of the life of Buddha. Being a Thai temple, there was also a small shrine next to the Buddha statue, dedicated to Thai King Bhumibol who passed away last year.
Another prayer area dedicated to the Four-Faced Buddha, Phra Phrom. Elephant figurines featured prominently on the altar.
A separate shrine or ‘Ubosot’, with elaborate gold-coloured carvings decorating the maroon-coloured building.
WAT SIRIBUNYA MAGGARAM TEMPLE
88 & 89, Jalan Tambun, 30350 Ipoh, Perak., 30350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia