14 July 2009

Life in Ipoh

Pleasant. I believe I could use this word to describe life in Ipoh. Although possessing city status,Ipoh just doesn't have the energy of a city like KL. Even Melaka feels much more vibrant and "busy" compared to Ipoh.

This could be due to the appearance of Ipoh, which lacks skyscrapers or intimidatingly tall hotels or vast blockish shopping centres. The "city" area is made up of old prewar buildings that have been refurbished (or not) and the newer shops which look like those shops you see in Desa Sri Hartamas. It doesn't give a very city feel to the place, more suburban. Ipoh folk also dress much more casually compared to the KL-ites so there isn't much to look at unlike Jalan Raja Chulan where you could sit around the numerous cafes or stalls and "people watch" all those trendy office workers, shoppers and tourists.

The economy here is much smaller though. There aren't many MNCs here and I guess the only Malaysian company that employs a good number of people here would be Taiko Sdn Bhd, holding company of listed KL Kepong. With so much resources and land available, one wonders why Ipoh just hasn't caught up. Melaka and Johor earn from Singaporean visitors. Ipoh is too far north and sandwiched between the capital KL and manufacturing hub Penang - or so the excuse has been given for umpteen years to explain the lack of development in Ipoh. Be an education centre, then. Go out on trade missions and invite foreign education institutions to set up campuses in and around Ipoh, offer them incentives that beat KL. The standard of living in Ipoh is slightly lower so that would be a plus for students, and with the double tracking rail up (when it is up) and also newly resumed flights to Singapore in 2009, the Perak state govt should really pump up its marketing. But that is a topic for another day.

I am glad that, unlike KL and PJ, which have been stripped of leafy green tress, it is rather green here in Ipoh. The main roads of Jalan Gopeng and Jalan Tambun have nicely manicured road shoulders that converge at the antique fountain smack in the middle of the round-about leading into/ exiting town. At least the trees planted by the local council are "real" trees with branches that spread far and lush leaves, unlike KL and PJ where DBKL and MBPJ in their wisdom, have chosen to plant ridiculous non-shade-providing palms. Just because Malaysia in in the tropics doesn't mean we have to make our cities all look beachy, and windy, you know. What happened to all those grand raintrees and flame of the forest?

I noticed that Ipoh folk are more laid back and friendly. The shopkeepers all have a moment to chat with you. And there is less of that "hurry up" feeling whenever you go out to run your errands. Back in Damansara Utama or SS2 in PJ, I always felt hurried - heck the parking (or lack of) was enough to drive one ballistic.

Luckily for me, I am not a pathological shopper. If you are one, you might not survive in Ipoh. There are only Kinta City and Ipoh Parade, which carry brands like Jusco, Cold Storage, Padini, Nike, Royal Sporting House, G2000, Poney, and the main gents and ladies clothing and shoe lines, but on a much more muted scale. Of course there are lots of independent boutiques around, but style-wise, nah. You would be running screaming back to KL to shop!

Traffic jams? Much much less than KL. Happens only for brief spells at the peak of the usual to school- to work, back from work-school times. And Ipoh drivers move at a slightly slower pace, too. I am always overtaking them.

Scenery? Great. Ipoh is hemmed in by limestone hills all around. So when you are up on the flyover, you can see the green, rolling hills which does good for your soul. Air quality? Good, and being further up north, thank God Ipoh is spared the haze. The sky is almost always clear,blue with white puffy clouds.


  1. Let the city grow on you..plus now u can start looking out for nice Ipoh gals for your pals back in KL!

  2. KL is nearby so you can always come back to shop around :)


  3. Ipoh... my hometown... once was the 3rd biggest city when i was growing up. Now... like a place for retirement. Alot of Perak people had to go out to work, after the tin was not in demand anymore. I love Ipoh, but there are not many MNC here. I have no choice but to leave lovely Ipoh to KL. Leaving the nice city, small... near... wherever you go, you have a lot of time. In KL, you lose at least 2 hours a day for travelling in the morning and evening. (considered normal, as some jams make it 1.5 hours in KL during the peak hours). Tell me what I can do as a normal citizen and not a politician, to make Ipoh to have its own niche market. Can telco companies make Ipoh as a Hub to be equivalent to Putrajaya... so that more companies MNC can come in? Infrastructures are important, else there is no way MNC companies want to come in, as there is no fast ethernet access.