Ipoh Day 3 (plus a day trip to Cameron Highlands) – Breakfast at Restoran Chooi Yue Dim Sum, Cameron Lavender Gardens, Time Tunnel Museum, Sam Poh Temple, Tan’s Camellia Garden, S Corner Centre Market, Late lunch at Old Town at Cameron Square, Shopping and Movie at Aeon Station 18
Unless you have a death wish, take the wider Simpang Pulai road to Cameron Highlands, NOT the narrow Tapah route where heavy vehicles driving downhill towards you could crush your vehicle into the rock wall on your left at sharp turnings.
Breakfast at Restoran Chooi Yue Dim Sum
This dim sum restaurant is very popular especially in the mornings before 930am.
Find a seat and wait for various staff to bring the dim sum selections to you.
We ordered 7 dishes and tea, the bill came up to RM36.
Try the char siew pau and give the typical dimsum dishes (siew mai, har gow) a miss; save your belly for the more interesting dimsum that you cannot find at home.
Must go: 4/5 for the sheer variety and affordability
Adventure 1: flower-gazing at Cameron Lavender Gardens
There’s an adult entrance fee of RM8, but I was quite happy to spend the time here taking photos of the flowers and having a short stroll with the husband.
Check out the various photo spots with lavender flowers, panda bear, windmills, strawberry farm and a mini castle.
There is also strawberry-picking here but it was closed when we went.
You can choose to buy souvenirs here, or at any of the souvenir stalls along the main road further up Cameron Highlands.
Must go: 4/5 if you like to stop and smell the flowers
Adventure 2: walk into a nostalgic period at Time Tunnel Museum
This was a rare find, a museum dedicated to the history of Cameron Highlands with old items from the past century or so.
There’s a small exhibit on the house that Lee Kuan Yew stayed in just before Singapore separated from Malaysia.
We spent an hour here just taking our time to browse the exhibits, which included many memorabilia from our childhood days.
Each ticket entitles you to 20% off a drink at their café, I tried the Strawberry milk tea and it was surprisingly good.
Must go: 4.5/5 if you like memorabilia
Adventure 3: Sam Poh Temple
The road into this temple is a bit tricky but go slow and use your GPS.
It’s a serene place with a nice view of the houses further down the hill. Pray or just take a breather. The marble floor and chairs are cold to the touch.
Must go: 3.5-4.5/5 depending on your purpose (sightseeing only, to praying)
Adventure 4: enter a secret garden at Tan’s Camellia Garden
This is another rare find, a private garden with a lovely owner, Mrs Tan, who opens it up to the public and even takes the time to introduce the various plants, such as camellia, orchid and anthurium.
Her husband is in the landscaping business and they both take care of the plants themselves. Some areas of their garden are actually on state land, and she’s mentally prepared to let go of her plants in those areas.
She also grows her own herbs (you can purchase fresh ones in pots) and if you are lucky, she may have prepared some dried herbs for you to purchase.
Tip: She also takes Boh tea (grown in Cameron Highlands) on a regular basis and said it helps reduce the ache in her joints during cold weather.
Her kids are grown up now and don’t work in Cameron Highlands but in the “lowlands” of Malaysia and Singapore where the pay is better.
According to Mrs Tan, if her kids worked in Cameron Highlands, the pay would only be about RM2000+.
Hospitality service jobs (I assume non-managerial) pay around RM1000+, which may be quite a challenge to survive on when the typical meal costs RM5 and above.
We were lucky enough to have a bit of her time before she had to leave to run an errand. Her garden reminds me of “The Secret Garden” as it had an old gate with a path leading temptingly into a garden full of different plants.
Just note that the mosquitoes are as prolific as her plants.
Must go: 4/5 if you like home gardens and are prepared to take the risk to see if she’s at home or not.
S Corner Centre Market
We stopped by this centre, located at the bottom of an S road curve, to purchase strawberries (2 boxes for RM20) and souvenirs. Sit at the café and enjoy the view of cars going down the S curve.
Must go: 3.5/5 only if you’re around the area and are looking for strawberries and souvenirs
Late lunch at Old Town at Cameron Square
This is one deserted shopping centre (ok we like places with no crowds), and we had the Assam laksa and fried chicken noodle for lunch.
It was perfect timing as it rained very heavily when we entered the café and ceased to a drizzle when we finished our lunch.
Must go: 3/5 only if you have nothing else to eat
Shopping and Movie at Aeon Station 18
We wanted to watch Operation Chromite, a war story of 8 Koreans (inspired by true events) who were instrumental in helping UN forces enter Incheon and severe the supply lines of the invading North Korean army. You can read more about the history here.
So we bought late night tickets at RM11 each to watch this movie. Meanwhile, we shopped for gifts and enjoyed a hot plate dinner at the food court while waiting for the show to begin.
This is a good show, go watch it.
Must go: 4/5, I like Aeon shopping malls as they provide a decent place for you to get your food, shopping and movies
I was sad that it’s our last night in Ipoh.
The trip was good as there were many interesting places we went, the traffic was mostly good, people were usually friendly (there were a couple of exceptions), food was yummy, and the ambience was pretty relaxed.
I would definitely return to Ipoh, maybe make a few day trips out of Ipoh the next time round.