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Kong Heng the Boutique Hotel - WOW!

kayes



Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
users gallery
All pics by Blue Grass. Thanks Blue Grass!


Sar Hor Fun, Chee Cheong Fun and Satay for room service. This is what I call fine dining!
· Date: June 6, 2012 · Views: 5182 · Tags: 1 ·
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kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 6, 2012 3:25am

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kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 6, 2012 3:52am

hi Blue Grass, I posted these pics you sent barely a few minutes ago and my bro in law from KL has already seen them. He says he wants to rush down to Ipoh and stay a night at Kong Heng Boutique. Is it open for business?
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 6, 2012 5:11am

Hi Kayes
Yes, it is open for business. You would hardly know that there is a hotel up there, would you? The renovation has been so discrete that it is still essentially Kong Heng! The only giveaway is the metal emergency stairs to the right of building and even then, not so noticeable with trees partly hiding it. The pavement laid with bricks leads you to a world all its own - faded paintwork, raw cement floors and creaky floorboards. Lovely!
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 6, 2012 7:31pm

Kayes, I have pics of interior that will have your bro in law up here in a jiffy!
Will send them to you soon.
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 6, 2012 11:07pm

Blue Grass, thanks very much for pics of interior. If you have more, please send Smile My bro in law is so excited and says he will visit Ipoh next week. I told him I don't know the room rates but he said never mind, he will pay what they ask for.


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blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 6, 2012 11:57pm

This boutique hotel is very appropriately called 'Sekeping Kong Heng' and the man behind this Ng Sek San and his partner Lau Jian Pyng. Collaborating together they have renovated many buildings in Malaysia. Their projects always start with Sekeping. So there are Sekeping Serendah, Sekeping Tenggiri, Sekeping Seapark and more. I believe there is even one in Penang!
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 7, 2012 12:06am

I forgot to say that I spoke to the friendly caretaker and he told me there is a special price for the rooms now. The bedrooms that sleep 2 are either RM160 or RM180. [Sorry, in one ear and out the other!] He didn't say when the promotion ends.
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 7, 2012 5:36pm

Blue Grass, my bro in law would like to thank you for bringing this Sekeping to his attention. He is a real foodie and he is looking forward to just walk downstairs for his fav hawker dishes. He also intends to ta pau back to his room Smile He is now drawing up a list of things he wants to eat!
Ken Chan

Registered: July 2008
Location: Chicago. IL, USA
Posts: 1,128
June 7, 2012 7:47pm

Hi Blue Grass,
Thanks for those very interesting pictures. I am surprised to hear that Sekeping Kong Heng is already rolling out the red carpet to welcome visitors. To me, the place does look unique in its own way but it conjures a rough and ready image, more like a work in progress rather than a finished product. While it is important to retain a good dose of old world charm, the building appears to be rather dilapidated, quite unlike some of the better-appointed boutique hotels I seen in Bangkok and Europe. For the diehard foodie, the location of this hotel is hard to beat, especially during the day. Come evening time, Old Town assumes a totally different personality. Languishing in the shadow of the night, the buildings seem to shy away from the spotlight and withdraw into a world of its own.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 7, 2012 8:48pm

I would like to comment on the pics to give a better picture of Sekeping Kong Heng which is made up of 3 buildings - The original building which houses Kong Heng coffee shop, a new wing and an old shed at the back.


Pic 1 The metal stairs leads to the 1st and 2nd floors and connects the original building on Left and new wing on Right.


Pic 2 Communal room on ground floor of New Wing.


Pic 3 Old shed that seems to be from same era as Kong Heng.


Pic 4 This is one of the 8 bedrooms directly located above Kong Heng. Imagine your morning call - beautiful aroma of coffee wafting up from below. I think nothing will get you out of bed faster than THAT!


Pic 5 The long corridor with 4 bedrooms on either side.


Pic 6 Family room on 1st floor of new wing and it sleeps 6 - 4 here and 2 behind wall where the bathroom is also located. Note the metal mesh to left of pic. Mattresses are placed on top of them to give you 'airy beds.'


Pic 7 Another communal room on 2nd floor of new wing.


Pic 8 Large open room with 2 bathrooms on 2nd floor of Kong Heng. Note the ladders - they take you up to 'hanging rooms' that sleeps 2 per room.


Pic 9 One of the bathrooms for the large room.


Pic 10 One of the 'hanging rooms' that has glass walls.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 7, 2012 9:04pm

Hi Ken
I think this sort of accommodation is not for everybody. You either love it or hate it! Renovations have been 'gentle' and minimum. However all modern amenities are found here, including wifi. I would love to experience a night's stay here one day. Your 'old world charm' describes it to the T!


I have more pics that I snapped very enthusiastically that morning and will send a few more to Kayes.
Ken Chan

Registered: July 2008
Location: Chicago. IL, USA
Posts: 1,128
June 8, 2012 9:09pm

Hi Blue Grass,
Indeed, such accommodation is not everyone's cup of tea. Yet, I believe that anyone who stays there would experience a time warp that reminds us of the 50's, 60's & 70's when the average family can only afford to rent one room in the dilapidated shop houses in town. Old world charm aside, many Westerners would feel very apprehensive when they see that the walls are so badly stained by an abundance of mold and mildew. Inhaling the spores from moldy walls could be detrimental to one's health and that alone could deter some prospective guests from jumping onto the bandwagon.
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 9, 2012 3:46am

Surprised to see new Rope-Net beds (4th pic. from bottom and same pic. with Hammock beds). Still remember seeing old Rope-Net beds with most of the rope-nets replaced with nylon strings in Ipoh. Those tattered Rope-Net beds were being placed against front shop walls along five-foot way whenever we walked pass banks or goldsmith shops. As kids we were curious and our elders told us those were beds for 'Jaga' (security guards) to rest when they were on night duties.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 10, 2012 12:10am

Hi Orange
These traditional Punjabi beds are called charpoy or manjaa and I was also very pleasantly surprised to see them. These Punjabi beds look new and so there are still craftsmen who can weave such beds. I have Punjabi friends who have abandoned charpoys for modern ones with mattresses and this rather saddened me as a bit of Punjabi culture and way of living is slowly being lost. No mattresses are needed for the charpoys, at the most a sarong is placed on top of the jute.


Yes I still remember the Sikhs who worked as security guards outside banks and goldsmiths. They slept on the woven beds at night and next morning, conveniently propped them up against pillars.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 10, 2012 12:33am

Hi Ken
The upstairs of Kong Heng was occupied by the artistes who performed in the Opera House next door and even way after the Opera Housed closed down. There were tenants upstairs till the 80's as I saw a pile of receipts left hanging on the wall. The top one showed it was for the sum of 30 dollars and rental for the month of August! I was tempted to flip through the receipts but was afraid they may disintegrate in my hands.
Indeed a night's stay at Sekeping Kong Heng brings with it a glorious slice of history. If only the walls could speak, what wonderful tales they would be able to tell us.
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 10, 2012 3:42am

Thanks Blue Grass for the interesting info.


I notice each bed has two designs for the weaving. I presume the section with vertical weaving is top of bed or where pillow is placed. Am I right?


Charpoy or manjaa are beautiful names for these artistically woven beds. Sweet names for sweet dreams ..... Smile
Ken Chan

Registered: July 2008
Location: Chicago. IL, USA
Posts: 1,128
June 10, 2012 5:35am

Hi Blue Grass,
How apt it is when you mentioned that 'if only the walls could speak.' Then, we would get an earful, a rich tapestry about people from all walks of life and how they lived in the 40's, 50's and 60's. That is quite a mother lode of information to sieve through and digest for the average history buff. For foodies, the stalls in Kong Heng and Thean Chun are hard to resist, though at night, I would imagine the place can be rather desolate.
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 10, 2012 6:06am

Now let's see how good our memories are with "mungkalei chaoong". The one most vivid in my memory was the one outside GeorgeTown Dispensary. It was there until the late 70s. The bed was on the Belfield Street side of the dispensary.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 10, 2012 7:36am

Hi Kayes


I remember one - the 'chaoong' placed outside Wing On Goldsmith along Leech Street.
ACS77

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 212
June 10, 2012 10:29pm

Hi Kaye's, I remember the Mungkali Chaoong outside the Georgetown Dispensary. What I remember most is the coin operated Children's Riding Horse outside the front door of the Dispensary. That is what I look forward to every time my god parents take me there. Sam
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 11, 2012 3:11am

Hi Kayes,


I remember there was one 'Mungkali Chaoong' outside an old town bank where Mum opened a saving account for me - my very first saving account. No signature needed, just thumbprint. Smile
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 11, 2012 5:25am

Many banks throughout the country had Punjabi watchmen and there were many mungkalei chaoong placed at the entrances of these financial institutions. However, my memory of such scenes in Ipoh are not as vivid as the one at the Georgetown Dispensary.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 11, 2012 6:48am

It just seems so ridiculous in present times, that a lone unarmed watchman could help ward off the robbers! These Punjabi watchmen were certainly an indication of the safe world back in the 70's. Difficult to imagine that they slept on the 5-foot way and not even in the premises they were watching over.
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 11, 2012 8:51am

That morning before we went to the bank, my dad told my mum to check and make sure everything is in order before leaving the bank. Mum told dad: "Don't worry. Banks don't cheat!" When leaving the bank, I saw one 'Mungkali Chaoong' at the entrance. Suddenly I remembered I was told 'Jaga' is to 'jaga'. So I asked mum: "If banks don't cheat, then 'Jaga' is to 'jaga' so that people don't cheat banks?"


That was the first time I entered a bank and lack of understanding made me remember that 'Mungkali Chaoong'. Smile
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 11, 2012 10:11am

Wonder if anyone knows about 'Mungkali Min Pau' (Roti Benggali)? These are bread made by Chinese bakeries but by the time these bread reach us, we rename them as 'Mungkali Min Pau'. Strange ..... Most probably it's because many bread vendors who deliver bread to us are Benggali.


I always respect the work ethics of Sikhs. Years ago, when Dr. A. Singh asked me to do a blood test to confirm if I had dengue, he told me to call the clinic to get the result. But when the result was out, instead of asking his nurse to telephone me, Dr. A. Singh himself called my house and asked me to be admitted right away and he is a locum in that clinic! I am very impressed with his accurate diagnose, professionalism and good work ethics.


When my friend, D. Kaur opened a kindergarten, she was driving an old Wira Aeroback but her new kindergarten is very well equipped. Playground is safe and well-turfed, there is a resource centre and her kindergarten has all the necessary furniture and equipment for Montessori. Annual concerts are held in club house. In less than 3 years, everyone in the community knows about her kindergarten.


Sikhs are very hardworking, prudent and everything they do, they ensure success. I was told there is no Sikh beggars and all Sikhs are very close-knit.


The very first piece of Chappati I ate was not bought from shop but from Manjit's house - our neighbour in Batu Gajah.
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 12, 2012 7:25am

When I was at Sekeping Kong Heng I asked the friendly caretaker if they do room service. He said they didn't but showed me a door connecting hotel to coffee shop. I suppose you could order your food and get served in the communal room downstairs. Ahh.....to be able to eat without someone standing beside the table waiting for you to vacate it!! I honestly cannot eat slowly then and feel oblige to gobble down my food. I have pic of door and will send it, together with a few more, to Kayes.
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 15, 2012 8:39am

Not sure if it's a good idea for street food to be delivered and served elsewhere other than at the coffee shop table near where the street food is prepared. All street food should be eaten while it is still hot esp. if it is with 'tong' (soup). I personally don't like 'tau pau' street food. Much of the taste is lost!


This brings me back to the short stint when I worked as a cashier in a 5-star hotel in Golden Triangle. Most hotels have Western set lunch or set dinner for room service. Western set lunch or set dinner consists of a appertizer, main course and dessert. Very often, room guests request for set lunch or set dinner but ask to omit the main course. It's most probably some don't eat meat esp. those senior guests. Set meal is a set meal. So when the order is sent to the kitchen, the ordered food comes out from the kitchen will be consist of appertizer, main course and dessert. Since room guests insist they don't want the main course, guess who gets to have the sumptuous main course besides getting tips from the room guests? Smile
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 18, 2012 3:29am

More pics by Blue Grass. Thanks again Blue Grass!


http://penangnewspaper.com/pics7/khre200.jpg


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Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 18, 2012 9:06am

31 years ago (1.2.1981) Chan Kam Ching stayed here. Smile It's very unique to have those old receipts being displayed at Se Keping Kong Hing. Given another 30 years down the road, if receipts are to be printed from present day hard-disks, much authenticity will be lost!


It's interesting to see wire mesh is being used as bed divan. Very creative of them!


Those mosquito nets are very white ..... still. Smile It will be fun if rooms are furnished with 'Mungkali Chaoong' instead of being used as outdoor furniture as shown in 5th pic. from bottom. Love the rustic look of 6th pic. from bottom. No one would believe this pic. (6th from bottom) is taken from our Ipoh old town. Thumbs Up!


Thanks Blue Grass for all the pics. As usual, you keep us up-to-date with all the latest happenings in our 'Kampung. Thanks again!
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 19, 2012 6:09am

Hi Orange
Thanks for the name. It is not seen in this pic but in another pic I took, it was written out for the sum of $30 in 1981. I wonder if this Chan Kam Ching rented a room here and worked downstairs.
I should one day go speak to the old timers in Kong Heng coffee shop and see what interesting stories they could tell me of the people upstairs and the goings-on!
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 19, 2012 6:21am

The last pic with trees planted in the front, used to be where the opera house was. I hear it is part of the Sekeping project and wonder what is in store for this area. It is empty at the moment and some food stalls owners next door are making use of this place......and I was also surprised to see inside a couple of dogs - to act as jagas I suppose!
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 19, 2012 8:25am

There is only one Kong Heng in Ipoh but whenever our family talk about Kong Heng or want to eat at Kong Heng it is always: 'Kau Kai Cheong Kong Heng'. 'Kau Kai Cheong' is Old Town.


The founders of Kong Heng and Kong Ah are related. Before they opened Kong Heng, one of the founders had a coffee shop in Beruas. This founder's wife drowned while washing clothes somewhere near Beruas River during confinement. During those days, there was no tap water. He remarried and adopted a son to carry on the surname.
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 19, 2012 5:26pm

Another receipt from Blue Grass.


http://penangnewspaper.com/pics7/khreceipt6.jpg
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 19, 2012 5:33pm

Blue Grass, one of the persons who will probably be able to give you a few stories about Kong Heng is the Chinese satay seller. He has since retired but still helps out his son now and then. He is a very talkative fellow and you should have no problems engaging him in conversation.


Orange, thanks for the interesting historical bit about the founders of Kong Heng. More details please if you have them Smile
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 19, 2012 5:42pm

Anyone knows what year the Kong Heng coffee shop started?
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 20, 2012 8:59am

Kayes, I wish I can give details but I have always been warned by relatives: "Everything also want to tell people!" Smile


Anyway, I will try but I need to draw diagrams to remember all the links as most if not all the coffee shop founders in Ipoh and neighbouring small towns during that era are all related. Hua Nam and Chuan Fong are brothers. Chuan Fatt is Chuan Fong's son. Hua Nam's niece married Wing Kat Fong (in Menglembu) and Hua Nam's grand niece married Mun Tin's wife's brother. Mun Tin's parents are related to Wing Kat Fong. Very confusing. That's why I need diagrams! Smile Perhaps we can say all the coffee shops during those earlier days were monopolised by the same clan.


Incidentally, Mun Tin's wife has passed away and Mun Tin's daughter is still in Candada. As for Mun Tin's son ..... I think I have to confirm some facts before saying anything.


By the way, Kong Heng, Kong Ah and Kong Meng were started by the same founders.
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 20, 2012 9:40am

Based on the receipts photographed by Blue Grass, Chan Kam Ching stayed here for at least five years (1981-1986) .....


One part-time opera artist who is the only daughter of a coffee shop owner faced strong objections from her parents when she wanted to marry. Didn't understand the actual reason for the objections. After all, both were singles (then), only few years older than her and running his parents' business. Many from the same clan came out to become mediators and eventually she married the man of her choice despite her parents' objections. Now, she is happily married with kids and currently helping her aged parents with their coffee shop. Met her recently. She still looks pretty and friendly as ever. Thumbs Up!
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 21, 2012 11:19pm

I think Orange knows much more about Ipoh coffee shops than me but I do know a bit of history about one. It is not a very old one as it was started only in the late 70s. It is Hollywood (now New Hollywood) in Canning Garden. This coffee shop was started by the Wong family of Anderson Road who also owned the Sydney liquor shop directly opposite Mun Tin and also the Sydney Bar in Cockman Street. The Hollywood coffee shop was run by the eldest son, Ah Khow until it was sold .... not sure when but I think it was in the early 2000s. I have not been to New Hollywood lately but each time I pass by, I see it packed with customers with many cars by the roadside. I was told that for a coffee shop to be successful, there must be a good "chooong char lo" .... the guy who makes your kopi or teh Smile
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 22, 2012 4:39am

Kayes, wonder if you have heard about a bar at No. 68, Brewster Road during the 50's. Mun Tin's husband and wife managed this bar. This bar was owned by Mun Tin's father-in-law (wife's father) who had his own coffee shop in Karai. Due to some misunderstandings, the bar was closed and that was the time the couple started Mun Tin. Now, the shop at No. 68, Brewster Road is a shop selling frozen meat and the owner is one of the Kong Heng's founders' grandson. He formed his frozen meat business after he came back from Germany. Few years back, saw him driving a 'Ma Cee Dee', I think he must have upgraded his car by now. He is a very successful businessman and his parents' good son.


You are right about 'chooong char'. Every coffee shop owner knows 'char ngm hoh, hak chai ngm lai!' - "if coffee or tea is no good, customers won't come!". During the time when a clerk's salary was about RM250.00, 'chooong char" was paid RM400.00.


But during the era when Hua Nam or Wing Kat Fong started, all staff were their own relatives. Some of them came direct from Hainan island. Food and lodging were provided. Most and esp. those from Hainan island stayed at the coffee shop. They worked from wee hours till late at night. For those who came from Hainan island, agreement was made before they 'lok keok' (leg touched ground Smile). Mutual agreement like taking care of them when they are old and frail, performing final rite and handling final resting place. They are supposed to be treated as family members and all Hainanese are very close-knit during those days.
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
June 22, 2012 6:13pm

Orange, in the mid 60s I used to go to two bars because I knew the owners. One of them was Sydney Bar in Cockman Street owned by the Wong family and I knew all the three sons. The other bar's name escapes me but it was in Brewster Road in the vicinity of the area you described. Was it Bali Bar?????? But I know that bar was owned by my friend's mother in law.This friend was Frankie who worked with Osbourne & Chappell, the mining guys in Gopeng. And I remember that my friend's father in law was a doctor. Does this info ring any bell? Maybe the Mun Tin people sold the bar to Frankie's mother in law?
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 23, 2012 3:27am

Thanks Kayes for the info. I will conform if they have closed or sold the bar when there is a gathering in this coming September. Most elders are no longer around and many senior relatives are not IT literate. Many a time, I have to make long distance calls to talk to them. Smile
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 23, 2012 3:39am

Nowadays liquid detergents are widely used in coffee shops to wash cups and saucers. During those earlier days, coffee cups were boiled with 'Saw Da Fund' (Soda Powder) in big metal basin for hours over charcoal stove. I doubt any coffee shop still does the same at this present time!
blue grass

Registered: September 2008
Posts: 995
June 23, 2012 6:42am

I like the way the coffee shops submerge their cups in hot water - the coffee cups would be placed on their sides and arranged neatly in rings and layered around a metal basin. Perhaps it is for hygiene as well as to provide a piping cup of coffee! What do you think Orange?
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
June 23, 2012 7:10am

Blue Grass, you are right. It's for hygienic reason. In fact, before making coffee or tea, it's a norm to use the metal scoop to pour boiling hot water over the entire cup. This practice is to ensure that cup of coffee or tea is piping hot. I personally don't like to drink tea from a 'ngah lat' (glass). Smile
Orange

Registered: February 2009
Posts: 3,103
October 1, 2012 8:58pm

Hi Kayes,


The bar that your friend bought over was not the one located at 68, Brewster Road. I was told Bali Bar was at a corner shop (junction of Brewster Road/Cockman Street). The name of the bar at 68, Brewster Road was Ngan Hey - "Ngan" is silver as in money and "Hey" is happy or auspicious. None of our senior relatives seems to remember Ngan Hey's English name. Mr. Mun Tin's father-in-law started Ngan Hey Bar with 10K in 1953. A terrace house costed about 8K during the 60s.


Someone else bought over Ngan Hey and Bali Bar was a bigger bar.
kayes

Registered: July 2008
Location: Penang Malaysia
Posts: 4,580
October 4, 2012 2:59am

So the mystery remains unsolved Sad I asked a friend who used to go to that bar with me and he too can't remember the name. But we both remember Sydney Bar!
hokin

Registered: August 2008
Posts: 116
January 1, 2013 8:10pm

Happy New Year to all.


I was back in Ipoh for a visit between Christmas and New Year. My wife and I visited the Kong Heng Boutique Hotel, Sekeping Kong Heng. There is now a art gallery. There were some water colour paintings of Old Ipoh by the Penang artist Khor Siew Hooi. I have always like his paintings.


Additionally behind this Sekeping Kong Heng is now a cafe, Burbs and Giggles, with very retro setting where the deco is 'raw' and the furniture is made from recycled timber, including doors. I was told it is opened by the same people that owns Indulgence. It is linked, so one can walk through to the Brubs and Giggles and to Sekeping Kong Heng. Definitely worth a visit. We had coffee there.


The designer is most likely be the same as Sekeping Kong Heng, Ng Sek San, as it is very much in the same flavour. BTW, Sek San is a Michaelian.



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