Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ronda Utara Day 1

Alicia and I had been planning to drive up north to Kampar, Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping, and if we have the time, to Penang as well. The highlights of our trip will be the local food and of course photography - Alicia with her Panasonic Lumix and I with my Canon 40D.

I wanted to go blind, i.e. without any plans and just happen upon it as well go along but Alicia being Alicia, she is a planner. She was all ready with maps and guidebooks. I'm fine with that as well and off we went!

We began our trip at 9 in the morning after a dimsum breakfast in Kuala Lumpur (KL). The dimsum wasn't so nice and so we do look forward to savouring dimsum when we get to Ipoh.

Our first stop: Kampar
The name of the town was derived from two Cantonese words: kam pou, which means precious gold. It probably refers to its previously rich tin reserves.

The quaint little town.

I spotted this watchmaker from a clock shop hard at work ...

... and a keysmith.

Some grocery storekeepers - the one in red asked if I were an investigator.

We stopped by this shop to get some biscuits. They were hot off the oven and they tasted oh-so-good. These biscuits have a weird name - lou po bang, in Cantonese - translated: wife biscuits. I have no idea why they are called that, but I found a plausible story here.

It was then lunch time and we scouted around looking for Kampar's famous beef tripe noodles. We could not find it and started asking the locals there and directions were given, and off we went to find Onn Kee Noodle Stall.

The stall owner recommended some vegetable juice: bung dai woon in Cantonese, daun pegaga in Malay, and pennywort leaves in English. We had it for the first time. How does it taste like? Well, if you add salt to it instead of sugar, it'd be vegetable soup.

Ah! The oh-so-famous beef noodles. Delicious!

Next stop: Ipoh
Ipoh is the capital city of the state of Perak. I did not take many pictures here because of the fact that we are mainly lost. We could not get ourselves familiarised with the roads in Ipoh. People from Ipoh will probably laugh at us since we came from a more complicated city, namely Kuala Lumpur, and yet to find the place, where most of the interesting places are, consists only of two main roads.

By time we got to the places where we wanted to try out the food, they were already closed for the evening and the shops that serves dinner are not opened yet. We were basically stuck in between and so we just drove around. I was the driver and hence I did not get any photos.

Alicia got this one - Wisma Taiko - we joked that we must go through Taiko (big brother) first before we got on our way from one main road to the other.

It was finally time for dinner and we headed off to the "four-corners" shops, and settled for Onn Kee Ipoh chicken rice. If you noticed, the name of the shop is the same as the name of the beef noodle shop in Kampar. What a coincidence.

It was the sunset when we got there.

The place was soon crowded with people.

One of the "four-corners" shop selling take-away salted chicken and duck.

Taugeh or boiled bean sprouts with rice ...

... and steamed chicken. This is one of Ipoh's famous cuisines. However, sad to say, we did not enjoy the food at all. It wasn't that good and wasn't that different from the ones we have in KL.

But what happened after the meal was an experience for me. A lady who was walking about selling raffle tickets stopped by our table and commented that we have a lot of food left. I could not finish the food and had a lot of rice left in my plate. To my surprise Alicia said, "Yes we could not finish it and would you like to have it?"

Leftover food? I didn't know what to think. I wouldn't have thought of doing things like that but my cousin is a kind and caring person. She asked for the food to be packed, telling me that if the lady did not mind, it would be better for the lady to have the leftovers, since the food will be discarded and wasted anyway.

The food was soon packed up and given to the lady. Then we saw her asking an old man by the roadside if he would like the food and he took it. I am still quite beside myself over the happening, not so much over the leftover food but the plight of the needy.

We soon settled down in Ipoh after having checked into a hotel. We stayed at the Ritz Garden Hotel. I did not get a picture of the building. This picture is from one of the tourist website. It does not look very nice from the outside ...

... but we were most pleased with the inside. The beds were so comfortable with really nice cotton sheets. We slept most soundly in the night.

Thank you O God for a safe journey and a wonderful first day.


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