The Imagined Ipoh

17Jul07

As published in the Traverama Magazine and Karangkraf Online, July 2007

BY AMIE XU

Restlessness gets on my nerves. That, and not having some tale of amazing adventure to share on Monday mornings in the office pantry.

Lusting adventure, I filled my car tank full of patrol and arrived in Ipoh four leisurely hours later. Ah Ipoh. I am pretty sure that good ol’ Ipoh missed me too. It was almost midday on a beautiful Saturday morning and it seemed like the whole town was keeping me company on the streets.

I entered Ipoh through the ‘new’ town, a mish-mash of shops and restaurants, hotels and government blocks – All shamelessly flaunting wares from clothes on sale to roast chicken. Three… make that four one way streets later, passing local adaptations of fast food outlets, departmental stores that spill right onto the curbs, bridal houses, photo studios and a well seasoned hawker centre, I arrive at one of two main roads that lead to the ‘old’ town of Ipoh.

Honestly, this is where driving gets dangerous, for I have this ridiculous tendency of gawking at gorgeous old colonial buildings. The kind with all kinds of intricate plaster finishings that line edges of walls and frame doors and windows. The kind with soul. I drive right to the end of the old town, along with scores of Ipoh-ans curious over this out-of-town number plate crawling wide eyed on their streets. A right turn later, I am confronted with the magnificent Ipoh Railway Station.

I sit in the shadows of the station and imagine how life would have been back in its glory days of 1917. How ambitious merchants and hopeful workers alike walked in the shadow of this structure and built what was then known all over the country as ‘The City of Millionaires.’ What went through the mind of its architect, A. B. Hubback, when he decided to give the station Moorish features which would eventually make this creation known across the state as the ‘Taj Mahal.’ I imagine British lords and ladies making their way through the corridors of the Majestic Hotel in the façade of this very station, their maids and footmen flirting while passing time outside their quarters.

*for full article, grab the july 2007’s issue of traverama!

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