See’s labour of love over time

The unassuming appearance of the museum hides a wealth of items within. ― Pictures by Farhan Najib
The unassuming appearance of the museum hides a wealth of items within. ― Pictures by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 ― Ever wondered how it would feel to step back in time and relive some of the idyllic memories from years gone by?

Add the Time Tunnel Ipoh Old Town museum to your next travel itinerary in Ipoh, and you can do just that.

Opened in June, the museum in Jalan Panglima allows visitors to revisit memories of their childhood, via a collection of unique everyday items dating back over seven decades.

Curated by See Kok Shan, the museum is a “sister property” of the Cameron Highlands Time Tunnel, which he opened 10 years ago.

“The response was so good that people kept asking me to open another one.

The items are displayed in a simple manner.
The items are displayed in a simple manner.

“I was born in Ipoh, so when I found this shophouse, I decided to open a second museum,” See told Malay Mail.

“My interest in collecting came when I went to England in 1999. I visited a private museum and I saw a section that consisted only of burger wrappings that a girl had donated.

“I was so impressed because it was so unique and it was just an everyday item.”

See has been collecting items for decades, perusing flea markets and his network of fellow collectors throughout the country.

With a background in advertising, See appreciates the power of these visual throwbacks — simple and unassuming as they may seem.

“I focused on old advertisements and everyday items. When people look at them, they immediately remember their childhood.”

As with all good museums, the devil is very much in the painstaking details.

See does not waste time on grandiose displays or excessive explanations.

Instead, he uses simple everyday items to catapult visitors through time.

Walking through the wooden-floored space, visitors can hear strains of Cliff Richard and The Shadows’ Young Ones.

They can cast their eyes on old enamel advertisement boards, movie flyers, and umbrellas dating back to the 1940s and 1950s.

The Time Tunnel Ipoh Old Town museum houses a collection of old everyday items.
The Time Tunnel Ipoh Old Town museum houses a collection of old everyday items.

Devices from decades past — a rotary dial telephone, an analogue cash register, two Rediffusion boxes, a barber’s chair with Old Spice and Brylcreem accessories — dot each corner of the museum.

There are also collections of personal items such as family photographs, report cards, bus tickets, and even drivers’ licences.

Of course, there are sections dedicated to the history of Malaysia and Ipoh, as well as wartime items that were found during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya.

See’s favourite part of the space is however, a reconstruction of a kopitiam, which is breathtaking in its detail.

Old Coca-Cola, Orange Crush and Fanta bottles and classic designs of Milo and Planta tins line the shelves, as well as vintage teapots and tea sets.

“I had most of the items, but I wanted to get the look right. It took me about three weeks to set up this section.”

See’s labour of love attracts about 100 visitors every day during peak periods, and even welcomed Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski.

Many visitors want to buy his items, caught up by the nostalgic sentiments they bring back.

“One lady got very emotional when she saw my charcoal iron, because she lost hers. I couldn’t sell mine but I told her I would find her another one.

“My collection of cigarette boxes also brings up a lot of memories for people because you cannot find them anymore.

There are about 100 visitors a day.
There are about 100 visitors a day.

“I also found two young ladies playing the old Chinese chess set. They spent one hour engrossed in the game,” he added.

Years of patiently collecting the memorabilia has paid off for See.

He hopes to expand his museum with more exhibits.

“I always hear couples playfully bickering when they see the exhibits.

“They would say ‘We should have collected this; I told you not to throw that item out’.

“Well, I am glad they did. I collected them,” he said.

Related Articles