Words and photos by Charmaine Chee
In a blink of an eye, the old mining town of Ipoh has now turned into a well-known tourist spot in Malaysia, packed with a mix of locals and foreigners especially during the weekends and holidays. Many cafes and hipster places have blossomed along the narrow streets of Ipoh over the years and old pre-war houses renovated that put a nostalgic touch to the beauty of this town.
The new sensation of the Internet currently has its eyes on The Concubine Lane in Ipoh, an alley which is also known as Lorong Panglima or “Yi Lai Hong”, with two rows of double-story pre-war houses aligned along the alleyway. A bamboo cloth lines were draped with wet dripping clothing across adjacent windows. The pre-war buildings look very run-down and is still in a state of disrepair, especially after the British Colonial Officers left Malaysia when it gained independence in 1957.
The Concubine Lane is one of the three streets where wealthy Chinese tycoons used to keep their mistresses and concubines, aside it being infamous for opium, prostitution and gambling dens. It was already a place of fun and pleasure back then, but definitely for all the wrong reasons. In short, Concubine Lane was already famous back in its glory days but it was left in disrepair until recent years when local residents started bringing the alley back to life with ‘face lift’ and businesses.
The crowds that thronged the narrow alley hanging with colourful decorations is a definitive sign of a makeover success.
Concubine Lane spots fresh paints with bright and vibrant colors, complemented with strings of red Chinese Lanterns hanging above your head along the walkway. Apart from the unique architecture of the pre-war buildings, Concubine Lane will also bring you smiles the Malaysia way – feeling the yummy in the tummy! The entire alley is filled with food stalls, souvenir kiosks and adorable cafes to tempt you to put aside your diet that you’ve been working on and to feast on the mouth-watering snacks and desserts instead.
If you are guilty for having a sweet tooth, then this is the place where you belong because Concubine Lane is filled with varied desserts on offer that will absolutely tickle your taste buds! From a range of nostalgic dessert such as Taufu Fah (Soybean Jelly), Cotton Candy, to colorful jelly balls on a stick, sweet syrup shaved ice balls and ice-cream, they will evoke flashbacks to your childhood days. The famous raindrop cake is trending on social media. Don’t miss it.
These desserts will quench your thirst and recharge your energy before you continue with your stroll along the lane with the hot sunny weather above. Slow down to admire the many beautifully decorated cafes, wall murals and souvenir shops that will fit perfectly for your Instagram shots.
When you feel hungry with all the walking, you can check out the many hawker stalls and cafes across the lane and that includes the famous Lou Wong Taugeh Chicken Rice and Plan B which is also just walking distance from the lane itself. All in all, if historical buildings, snacks and desserts are your sort of thing, then Concubine Lane is the right place to be!