IPOH, Aug 2 — Certain parts of Ipoh’s Old Town like Concubine Lane and its surrounds are slowly reawakening after months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Weekends and public holidays used to see these places packed with tourists but during the lockdown, the whole area was deserted.
A recent check by Malay Mail showed that the tourist spots in Ipoh Old Town and Taman Jubilee, where the city’s most popular food streets are located, are getting visitors again... even on weekdays.
Business owners and shopkeepers here are glad that the government has lifted the interstate travel ban and allowed businesses to operate at full capacity.
However, they pointed out that the number of visitors is still relatively small compared to before the pandemic.
Funny Mountain Soya Beancurd — arguably the city’s most famous tau fu fa and soyabean milk stall — was a thriving business before the lockdown.
Today, Tan Han Seng, 36, who works at Funny Mountain as a supervisor describes business as moderate but enough to keep them going through this crisis.
“Of course the business is not like before, but we can survive,” he told Malay Mail when met at the stall in Taman Jubilee here.
Tan said that apart from their regular patrons and locals, they have been receiving tourists from the neighbouring states recently, especially on weekends.
He added that most of their customers prefer to order via their drive-through service.
Singapore-based Liao Fan Hawker Chan’s chicken rice shop has also seen a slight uptick in business recently.
The shop’s supervisor Wyng Yap, 30, said, “Yes, we have been receiving more local customers now but the business is still slow. It is not like before.
“The number of customers who want to dine-in are fewer as the space is limited due to the standard operating procedure (SOP). Maybe this could be a factor too.”
Meanwhile, a 69-year-old worker, who only wanted to be known as Ooi, at Restoran Wong Koh Kee said he noticed more people at Concubine Lane where the restaurant is located.
The restaurant has been in operation for the last 80 years.
“Concubine Lane is not crowded like before but we can definitely see a change since we re-opened.
“Some of our patrons have also returned but the business is still slow. I think only by next year things will get back to normal like before,” he added.
Similarly, Loh Pui Wee who sells souvenirs on Concubine Lane said that more local tourists are visiting the Ipoh Old Town area.
“When the lockdown was eased, many shops were not open and the lane was empty. However, things have changed these past two weeks.
“We can see the place is slowly getting visitors. Hope it will remain this way and back to its old form,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ah Wah, 55, who runs a fried kuey teow stall at Restoran Ipoh Kong Heng here, said that he is worried despite the slight improvement in business as Covid-19 cases have been increasing recently.
“Business is slowly picking up and we are getting visitors. However, if the cases continue to increase, the government might again impose lockdown.
“If it happens for the second time, small business owners like us will definitely be affected and I don’t think we can bounce back the next time,” he said.
Nadhiereh Akmal, 23, from Putrajaya, said she wanted to visit Ipoh after seeing videos of the city’s attractions and food shared by people on social media.
“I think this is the right time to visit Ipoh as the place is not crowded like before. We know that tourist spots here were usually congested before the pandemic,” she said.
However, her friend Danial Najmi, 23, from Muar, Johor said that they only planned a day trip here as they are still concerned about the pandemic.
“We try to avoid crowded places as much as we can. We are aware the cases have slightly increased in the past few days,” he said.
Isaac Chin, 28, from Kuala Lumpur said that he came to Ipoh with his family for his sister’s wedding and decided to go for a tour around the city.
“I have been here before and the place is a lot more different now. Not many shops were open. Maybe it’s because it’s a weekday. I guess weekends would be better,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohd Faiz Farhan, 28, from Kampar said that he brought his family here for a short vacation to Ipoh as travelling far is not safe at the moment.
“I just want to spend my holidays with my family so the nearest place that we could go to is Ipoh.
“So far, as I noticed almost all the shops here follow the SOPs which is good. I hope if people continue to follow the rules, more places will be safe to be visited,” he said.