Travelling around Malaysia since 2008 to produce a Tourism Malaysia-endorsed pictorial travel guidebook in the Farsi language which has a market of 120 million people, Iranian Jaleh Chegini, 42, has visited Ipoh numerous times to research on travel destinations and products offered in Perak, its people and their culture.
“The first time I visited Ipoh was several years ago at the invitation of one of my local friends to watch horse racing. Entering Ipoh, I was welcomed by the most magnificent limestone hills that lined one side of the road. At the races, although I couldn’t bet because gambling is forbidden in my religion, I still had a great time. It was an eye-opening experience for me. That trip was a good introduction of the city to me, which I discovered that the majority of the population is of Chinese descent.
“My friend and I had a good variety of Chinese food, beginning with Hainanese chicken rice and Ipoh white coffee for lunch at the Royal Ipoh Club. Our exploration of the local fare continued during our sojourn to Pangkor Island, one of the most beautiful islands on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, with clear blue water and fine sandy beaches,” recalled Jaleh.
Now working as a tourism information overseas representative for Iran based in Kuala Lumpur, Jaleh, who loves history and is a museum volunteer guide for Farsi-speaking tourists at the National Museum of Malaysia, was fascinated with the history of Ipoh and how it was the country’s second administrative centre during the British colonial era and subsequently developed around the turn of the 19th century due to the booming tin mining industry.
Said Jaleh, “Besides the many impressive heritage buildings left over by the British such as the Ipoh Railway Station, Town Hall, High Court and several schools that are over a century old, I believe that Ipoh has many other attractions to offer which could satisfy the interest of visitors from different backgrounds and age groups.
“Ipoh is easily accessible from Penang in the north and Kuala Lumpur from the south. Whether one opts to take the rail or by road, the journey is reasonable, smooth and affordable.
“While the older section of Ipoh has many old buildings that have been restored and repainted, the new section of town is just as interesting an area to explore. Also, I cannot forget the time I spent at the luxury resort of The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat or the joyful time my friends and I had at the Lost World of Tambun.
“However, when it comes to water parks and public swimming pools, I feel that we need to be more hygienic and to maintain them better. From my observation, users generally do not follow the rules and regulations of wearing proper swimming attire in the pool and that spoils the fun for the rest of us.
“Ipoh, in fact Malaysia, is so naturally beautiful, but it needs to be preserved and kept cleaner. To me, it is a little paradise that not many have discovered yet.”
Note: An edited version of this article [From Iran with Love] was published on 21st Nov, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.
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