“Terima kasih, Ipoh! I am so touched by your kindness, I hope to visit you again!” said Tazeen Qureshy, 22, from Odisha, India, who was in Ipoh for ten days during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on a reporting assignment for two hockey news portals.
It was the journalist’s first overseas trip and she was naturally excited. “Ipoh is no stranger to me as I am a hockey fan and have an idea about the various international tournaments that are hosted in Malaysia, including the prestigious annual invitational Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. However, reading on the internet and visiting the city personally are two different things altogether,” she added.
Arriving in Ipoh by herself, the city made a deep impression on her. As soon as she alighted from the bus from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, she was swept away by the beauty of the city.
“The breathtaking scenery, majestic limestone hills and serenity of the place made it love at first sight for me. It’s something that I will remember for a long time. Although it is a city of moderate size, it has a different life of its own. I noticed that Ipoh is similar to my hometown Bhubaneswar, but of course, your roads are a lot more well-designed and smooth!” she shared.
Having no contacts in the city prior to her trip, Qureshy’s bubbly character quickly made her some new friends who took her around Ipoh whenever her schedule allowed. “Although I was all alone in a new place, I never felt that I was away from home. I discovered more of Ipoh through the caring and joyful people who were always there to help me.
“The people are Ipoh’s best assets, I think. It is full of cheerful people. They also seemed to be rooted to traditional values and have kept their various cultures and traditions alive,” she observed.
Qureshy spent most of her time at Stadium Azlan Shah, therefore, it was no surprise that her best memory of Ipoh was related to her work. “I loved the way the locals cheered for their team, standing by them in every match, no matter how they fared. The ambience was awesome especially when the song “Selamanya” reverberated throughout the stadium and everyone sang along to it. I too found myself joining the crowd to cheer for Malaysia, as long as they weren’t playing against India,” she laughed.
Malaysian food being similar to Indian cuisine, Qureshy was comfortable with the local fare. She also had the opportunity to try nasi briyani and Thai-style fried rice, which besides being tasty, was served in an eye-catching presentation. “Although I prefer more vegetables in my meal, I liked the chicken briyani,” she admitted.
As Ipoh was Qureshy’s very first overseas experience, the city will always hold a special place in her heart. Describing her trip here as a well-spent ten-day journey of discovery, she hoped that those from other countries will get to know more about Ipoh and her people. She opined, “Ipoh is a perfect place for those who prefer to spend their holiday close to nature. Though, I believe, a little more publicity about the city is required.”
Note: An edited version of this article [Ipoh up close] was published on 20th June, 2015, in The Malay Mail.
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