Things To Do At Qing Xing Ling Leisure & Cultural Village, Ipoh : Tickets, Info And More

Hey guys! With the Christmas and New Year holidays approaching, I’m sure everyone’s feeling a little lazy (yours truly included). Just gotta kick my ass into gear and finish all these posts that have piled up 🙂

With that out of the way… here’s a blog on when we went to the Qing Xing Ling Cultural Village in Ipoh!

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This is not my first time here, but on my last visit the place was closed (apparently because of complaints from residents on tourist buses).  These days, there is a limit to the number of visitors allowed per day, and tickets are not sold on the spot (you have to buy them from a shop and collect them before you come), so crowd control measures are in place.

Where To Buy Qing Xing Ling Tickets 

Tickets are sold at a furniture shop called Syarikat Perabot Kota (Address: 164-166, Jalan Sultan Nazrin shah, Taman Sri Rokam, 31350 Ipoh, Perak). The shop is just a few minutes away from the attraction. While you can do walk-ins, it is best to call them in advance (Phone: +605-312 4140) to avoid disappointment. The ticket is priced at RM10.

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The ‘village’ itself is tucked deep within the hills, so you have to go through a housing area to get to the place. Entry is through a small side door where they have living quarters (they even had laundry hanging out to dry, and a pet baby goat in a paddock), but once you emerge, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful sight: a lake and quaint, colourful buildings amidst a backdrop of Ipoh’s emerald green limestone hills. There are also bicycles / tandem bikes / quadricycles that you can rent and ride around the grounds.

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The buildings at the village follow a vintage theme and are designed to look like houses of old, filled with nostalgic paraphernalia. Close to the entrance, we popped into one of these wooden ‘homes’, complete with a living space, bedrooms and a kitchen. Black and white photographs adorn the walls, and there was also a wooden balcony overlooking the lake. You can buy fish food to feed the fish in the pond.

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At the centre of the main courtyard is a God of Prosperity and a Wishing Tree, its branches weighed down by hundreds (if not thousands) of wishes written on red cloth.

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I forgot to mention that N and I were here to take our pre-wedding photos! (coz we couldn’t afford a photographer lol we were hoping to save on some money). We both agreed that it would be more of a fun-day-out-and-good-memories kinda thing, rather than having to dress up, sweat and be cranky and uncomfortable in the sweltering Malaysian heat.

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More vintage setups made to look like old-school photo studios, trinket shops, etc., filled with old machinery and items such as radios and TVs. They even have a (functioning) juke box!

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Climb up the hill to an area called Memory Lane, a whole ‘street’ lined with ‘shops’ that harken back to a nostalgic past. Sandwiched between a natural gorge with limestone cliffs on both sides, this a great place for photos. When we went there was barely anyone so we could take as much time as we wanted. There are lots of mosquitoes though, so if you’re a mozzie-magnet like me, bring some repellent.

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Makeshift cart peddling desserts. These were common in the 1960s to 70s. Note that the cart has wheels, which would have made it easy for the seller to pack up and move it when it was closing time.

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The tranquil lake at Qing Xing Ling exuding Guilin vibes.

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A resident drake preening its feathers under the shadow of an alcove. They also have a couple of geese and turkeys as well.

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Guanyin and other deity statues inside a cave with a natural spring.

 

The weather was muggy but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Qing Xing Ling – more so because there weren’t that many people, so kudos to the management for good crowd control. The last thing you’d want is for screaming, uncontrollable kids to hog every spot.

QING XING LING LEISURE & CULTURAL VILLAGE

22A, Persiaran Pinggir Rapat 5a, Taman Saikat, 31350 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Opening hours: 9.30AM – 5PM (Mon – Sat. Closed on Sundays)

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Miaw Yuan Chan Lin Cave Temple, Ipoh

Ipoh is known for its gorgeous cave temples, and there are many tucked within the state’s beautiful limestone hills. Some of the more well known ones include Kek Lok Tong and Kwan Yin Tong, which are popular with tourists. There are also many smaller ones that are slightly off the beaten path, like the Miaw Yuan Chan Lin Cave Temple.

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We stumbled upon this place entirely by accident while looking for another attraction nearby. I can see why it’s not on the radar of the usual tourist hotspots – it’s a little out of the way, and to get there you have to go through a housing area and a small dirt road. We were actually a little confused as to whether this was the tourist attraction we were looking for (Qin Xin Ling), because there weren’t any signs! With not many visitors, the temple grounds were tranquil, shaded from the sun by a large outcropping of rock. I believe they also have facilities for those looking for a meditation retreat, as there were showers and what looked like rooms for guests.

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A shrine with a very realistic, larger-than-life sculpture of a monk. As the temple is dedicated to Thai-Buddhism, there are many Thai elements to its design, such as naga figures and the use of gold.

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The main area, tucked within the limestone cave. The inside was extremely cooling, and you can hear the steady dripping of water from the stalactites.

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(Right) A sleeping figure of Buddha carved into the limestone; a colourful painting of deity (?) in blue next to it; joss sticks and offerings

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Further in was a golden laughing Buddha statue which was surrounded by water, which devotees can use for ablution, as well as a colourful shrine decorated with neon lights, housing seven Buddhas with different postures (one for each day of the week – a common sight in Thai Buddhist temples).

If you’re looking for a quiet temple away from the crowds, or if you’re on the way to the Qin Xin Ling attraction, the Miaw Yun Chan Lin Cave Temple is worth a visit.

MIAW YUN CHAN LIN TEMPLE  

22, Persiaran Pinggir Rapat 5a, Rapat Setia, 31350 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Review: Tuck Kee @ Ipoh

Ipoh is a foodie haven, and there are many decades-old institutions in town – like Tuck Kee, a famous noodle house along Jalan Yau Tet Shin, which has been in operation since 1963 (Not to be confused with Sun Tuck Kee a couple of doors away, and also the Tuck Kee in Taman Hoover which serves roasties).

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Basic and no-frills, the resto’s decor is typical of Chinese kopitiams – very much a dine-and-dash kind of place. Specialising in wat tarn hor (stir-fried flat noodles in an egg drop sauce/soup) and moonlight kuey teow (same but topped with an egg), it is a popular dinner spot with local families as much as tourists. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the wat tarn hor, but it was tasty – full of wok hei (breath of fire) and well flavoured. Can’t say I’m a big fan though, but that’s just me.

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Another one of their popular dishes is the boiled baby octopus (RM18). The price is pretty steep, and the portion is not that big either, but you’ll be rewarded with springy, chewy pieces of baby octopi, drizzled in a light soy sauce and fragrant fried shallots.

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Giant pork balls are among the new offerings on the menu. Had a nice bite to it, and no overwhelmingly porky smell.

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Another new offering – featuring the same egg drop sauce, but with fish paste shaped into ‘noodle’ strands.

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You can also order fried gyoza from the stall across the road !

TUCK KEE 

61, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Opening hours: 5PM – 2AM (Daily)

Review: Durham @ FMS Ipoh – Breathing New Life To The Oldest Bar In Malaysia

Old-timers might recall FMS, possibly the oldest bar in Malaysia, with an air of nostalgia. Short for the Federal Malay States, it was first opened at Market Street in 1906 by a Hainanese immigrant, before taking up residence in a corner unit along a row of pre-war shoplots in 1923. The bar has served patrons for over a century, and was a popular haunt for British and European officers, miners and planters during the colonial era. Over the years, the bar fell into disrepair, and shuttered its doors 11 years ago. Until it was refurbished and reopened again earlier this year, as the Durbar @ FMS. 

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A passion project by the new owner who is an architect, Durbar @ FMS has tried its best to retain the old-world charm of its historic predecessor. Stepping into its interiors is like taking a step back into colonial Ipoh, and its almost easy to ignore the sounds of modern traffic when you’re within the restaurant’s walls. Timber furniture and counters, sleek marble tabletops, and elegant lighting are paired with whitewashed walls, adorned with old newspaper clippings and even a large portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II.

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The large bar cabinet at the back is made from chengal and balau timber wood.

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The old FMS was known for its signature dishes such as Hainanese Chicken Chop, Baked Stuffed Crab, Classic Chicken Mornay, Classic Oxtail Soup and Enche Kabin –  which Durbar has kept. The food is, in fact, prepared by two experienced Hainanese chefs. The Hainanese were renowned for their excellent food, and many served as chefs for the British during the days of British Malaya. The result is a unique fusion of Chinese-style cooking tweaked to Western taste buds.

Had the Classic Oxtail Soup, and it did not disappoint. Could have been better with an additional piece of garlic bread, but otherwise the soup was hearty, warm and full of delicious meaty flavour, with generous chunks of oxtail to nibble on swimming within.

 

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The Crab fried rice had a simple presentation but surprised everyone with its astonishing depth of flavour and wok hei (breath of the wok) – something that can only be achieved by cooking the ingredients over high heat, sealing in all the flavours. It boasted just the right amount of seasoning – not too bland nor salty – and the sambal chilli sauce gave it a spicy kick.

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Pops had the Mee Hailam, which was one of the more affordably priced items on the menu. It was tasty but since wet noodles aren’t my thing, it was not my favourite.

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DURBAR @ FMS 

2, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Business hours: 11AM – 10PM (Closed Wednesdays)

facebook.com/DurbarAtFMS

 

Breakfast @ Kedai Kopi Keng Nam, Ipoh

I might be biased because it’s my parents’ hometown and all, but Ipoh might just have some of the best food in the world (I can hear people from the other Malaysian states screaming their dissent in the background). Of course like every other place, there are ‘meh’ establishments – but there are many great spots to dine in Ipoh, if you know where to look. One of these is Kedai Kopi Keng Nam, a no-frills kopitiam in the heart of town.

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There are several stalls within the kopitiam; but notable are the ones selling Ipoh-style chee cheong fun (steamed glutinous rice rolls) and yong liew (assorted items stuffed with fish paste). Another must-have, which is made by the restaurant itself rather than the stalls, is lor mai farn, glutinous rice with kaya and/or curry, which you can order together with your drinks.

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Ipoh-style chee cheong fun differs from what you can find in KL or places like Penang, in that it features mushroom sauce. This is unlike your Western-style creamy mushroom sauce, but is instead made from shiitake mushrooms, making for a broth with a lighter, darker consistency. The noodles are garnished with sesame seeds and fried shallots.

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Assorted yong liew, featuring chilli stuffed with fish paste, pork balls, stuffed beancurds and tofu, and fried jicama (sar kok).

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Last but not least, the glutinous rice with kaya (coconut jam) gives you a sweet end to the meal – sort of like Thai mango sticky rice. If you like it savoury, go for the one with curry. Wash down everything with a signature cup of Ipoh White Coffee.

KEDAI KOPI KENG NAM 

127, Jalan Raja Ekram, Kampung Jawa, 30300 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Business hours: 6AM – 11AM (daily)

 

Review: Local Food @ Lim Ko Pi, Ipoh

Most of the popular eateries in Ipoh like Sin Yoon Loong and Nam Heong were packed to the brim during Chinese New Year, so we sought out a quieter place for lunch, away from the bustling Jalan Bijih Timah area.

Enter Lim Ko Pi, located along Jalan Sultan Iskandar (old timers still call it Hugh Low Street, which was what it was known as during British colonial times). The bright red facade is hard to miss. You can either park behind the building and walk over, or across the road at a garage.

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Modeled after old school kopitiams (coffee shops) but upgraded with modern comforts such as air conditioning, Lim Ko Pi is deliberately designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia, from the polished wooden furniture and booths to the beautiful tiles lining one side of the wall – commonly seen in old Chinese houses. Red lanterns were also hung up for the Chinese New Year.

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Love the tiles! You don’t see them much anymore these days.

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There are two open air courtyards at the back of the shop where patrons can chill at, with potted plants giving the space a nice dash of greenery.

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We settled in comfortably to the nostalgic surroundings – and food was served. Bro had the daily special (nasi lemak), but unlike the Malay version, this one had stir fried green beans and vegetables. The side of Chicken rendang was sizable, and it also came with a piece of fried poppadom (lentil cracker). Tastewise, decent but lacking the strong, hearty flavours of Malay-style nasi lemak.

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A popular dish in Ipoh is the mushroom sauce chee cheong fun (rice rolls). The version at Lim Ko Pi came with a side of bean curd stuffed with fish paste and deep fried. They gave a lot of minced meat but there wasn’t enough sauce so the result was pretty dry.

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Pops and I had curry noodles. Flavours were okay but it was wayyyy too thick and starchy that it got cloying after a few bites.

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Mini cheese tart to end the meal.

Service is fast and friendly at Lim Ko Pi, and the ambience is nostalgic but the food was just so-so. Still, a decent alternative if you want to avoid the tourist crowds at popular establishments.

LIM KO PI 

10, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, 30000 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Opening hours: 830AM – 530PM (closed Mondays)

Food Galore – Chinese New Year in Ipoh 2019

It’s a little worrying that at barely 30, I’m already having trouble remembering things, lol.

There’s just an overload of information coming in on a daily basis that it’d be impossible to function without clearing up some ‘space’. Which is why it’s so important for me to keep blogging, no matter how busy I get. How else can I look back on what I’ve been doing at a particular point in time?

So here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to over the holidays 😀

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One of my favourite parts about the Chinese New Year celebrations is the food. There’s a reason why people call it ‘comfort’ food – because food is often associated with fond memories and feelings of safety and warmth. It’s such a good feeling to have awesome home cooked food to dig into the moment you step into the house. 😀

In this case, upon arriving in Ipoh, my cousin YS (who is a great cook) had made a big bunch of pork and century egg dumplings in a light, savoury broth. The thickness of the dumpling skin was just right, and the filling had the right balance of fat and lean for a tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

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Then my uncle came back from visiting friends with a big bag of these fried snacks called “Phoenix Balls”. Apparently they used to be served as appetisers at Chinese banquets, but you rarely find them these days.

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The inside was a mix of pork, shredded carrots and egg, enveloped in a chewy layer of pork fat taken from underneath the pig skin, then battered and deep fried. I really liked the textures, despite the ball’s oiliness – there’s the crisp from the shell, the chewiness from the pork fat, and the soft tenderness of the meat.

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Then the cous wanted to make charsiewbao (pork buns) so we helped out. It’s a lot of work, since everything was made from scratch, from the dough to the pork filling. Folding the buns into the proper shape was an art on its own.

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Presenting the ugliest charsiewbao in the world.

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Ready for the steamer!

Enough about food though – since it’s the Year of the Pig, here are some cute (and unique) porcine decorations around the house.

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Alcohol in a pig shaped glass container. The alcohol is poured out from the butt lol.

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Literal piggy bank

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These were friggin adorable – squishy pig dolls.

Hope you’re having a great CNY as well! 🙂 It’s back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

 

Review: Delight Seafood Restaurant, Kampung Jawa Ipoh

Happy Chinese New Year, folks!

Celebrations have been quiet ever since my grandmother passed away.

I read somewhere that matriarchs/patriarchs of a family act like glue, holding the fam together. Once they’re gone, it’s hard to get everyone together in the same place. Some cousins have migrated, while others are travelling with their own nuclear fams over the festive season. Traditions like cooking for reunion dinner night or praying to ancestors have been simplified, if not replaced.

Sometimes I envy my friends who are close to their extended families, because my cousins and I do not share the same bonds. Maybe it’s coz we only see each other once a year. I’m sure that after my parents’ generation, these bonds might be broken for good.

Enough depressing talk though : here’s what we had for CNY reunion dinner! Not wanting my aunt (who’s 70 now) to go through the hassle of cooking, we booked dinner at Delight Seafood Restaurant in Kampung Jawa, Ipoh.

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More and more families are doing away with cooking at home in favour of convenience. Restaurants do brisk business during this period, so much so that you have to book a ‘slot’ ie the resto divides diners into two sessions. Ours was at 6.30PM and we had to be out by 8PM to cater to the next round of customers.

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To start things off – the customary yee sang, a raw fish salad that is tossed and mixed while diners utter good wishes for the new year. The version here had jellyfish, pomelo, fish cake, crunchy condiments, peanuts and onions. Presentation was sloppy but the taste was pretty good.

Fun fact: Yeesang has roots in Malaysia/Singapore, not from China.

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Traditionally, Chinese banquet meals are served plate by plate, but since the resto was rushing for time, they decided to serve everything at once. Not a good strategy since there was barely any space left on the table. We were resigned to eating uncomfortably, bowls cramped to the left and right.

(Clockwise from top) Steamed fish, pork knuckle, soy sauce shrimp, stir fried vegetables and (centre) glutinous rice with waxed meats.

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The food was okay, but the only real standout was the glutinous rice, which came with three different cuts of waxed meat – pork, liver and mixed. The pork knuckle was pretty good too, especially the part with the crisp, crackly skin and tender meat underneath layers of fat. Fish was not cooked thoroughly with flesh still sticking to the bone.

The experience could have been better imo, but then again it’s a very busy period for restos and you can’t expect top notch service.

DELIGHT SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 

26, 28, 30, Jalan Dass, Kampung Jawa, 30300 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Open for lunch and dinner (daily)