The narrow Panglima Lane in Ipoh, which used to be known as Concubine Lane had housed opium dens, mistresses for the rich tin tycoons in the heydays of Ipoh. It could have just been another bygone residence for the townsfolk of Ipoh – most of whom were petty traders or hawkers. It is no surprise to learn that Ipoh was used as a backdrop for the French film "Indochine", starring Catherine Deneuve, about the final days of French colonial rule.
Hale Lane, Panglima Lane and Market Lane constituted the red light area of Ipoh Old Town. In Cantonese, they were known as the First, Second and Third Concubine Lanes. During the tin-mining heydays, these three lanes were where the coolies from the mines came to look for prostitutes and opium. The lanes were lined with brothels and opium dens, during an age when such activities were conducted in a less-than-discreet manner. Over time, Panglima Lane became the place where tycoons would deposit their concubines. These girls who exists solely to give rich men worldly pleasures are cloistered away from sight down this lane, visited discreetly. They did not hold any position in the men's family, and may have existed without the wives' knowledge; hence the name "Concubine Lane". I could not deny that the words "concubine lane" piqued my interest to take a look at this century old street in the old town sector of Ipoh.
散发古旧南洋风情的怡保旧街场, 近年来出现了不少怀旧咖啡馆, 餐厅和民宿, 揉合古典和现代格式, 呈现出优雅时尚的迷人风貌. 没有多少人知道怡保旧街场有一条 “邦里玛巷”, 却听闻过 “二奶巷” 的大名. 这条窄巷不仅有一个令人遐思的名字, 两排古老的建筑物更保留了百年前英殖民时代的旧模样, 充满南洋情调. 如今二奶巷成了怡保市内难得的 “古蹟巷”, 已有百年历史的二奶巷依然保存着大多数的旧式楼房, 走过锡矿时代的辉煌, 随着锡业没落逐渐回归平静的生活, 但敌不过岁月的无情摧残.
一段根据坊间流传二奶巷的故事: 怡保旧街场的 “二奶巷” (Lorong Panglima) 的源来, 是和以前的锡矿富豪用来金屋藏娇有关. 但是, 当地居民却不表苟同, 因为只有屈指可数的少户房楼是金屋藏娇.
一个年代的过去留下了一段历史, 一户又一户的人家搬离这个地方, 一道老旧的小巷留下了一段故事.
Today there has been interest to gentrify the lanes while preserving the history for posterity. However, as of now, the amount of restoration conducted here has been minimal. Many of the houses here are in advanced stages of disrepair. Many of the houses here are being taken over by vegetation, and unless steps are taken immediately, Panglima Lane may literally be gnarled away by the elements.
听说这里有个美丽的传说. 目前的二奶巷日渐破落, 往昔的风光与繁华已无以复加, 剩下的恐怕只是历史的声声哀叹和人们的遥不可及的昔日记忆.
这条窄巷俗称 “二奶巷”. 在广东话里, "二奶” 是妾侍的俗称, 明媒正娶的正室称为 “大婆”, 随后进门的便称 “二奶”, “三奶”, 以此类推. 二奶巷这个名称, 一直令人遐思, 以为当年这巷弄是富家子弟金屋藏娇的地方, 而两排屋子里住的都是不能获得正室认同的小妾.
This little lane is so charming and intriguing to me. As I walked through it I can feel the history and almost relive it. When i peeped into those empty houses, i had fleeting visions of opium dens, gambling tables and pretty ladies. A mini Shanghai right in Ipoh. Those businessmen who had made so much money from Ipoh should consider paying some back by joining forces to preserve this historical enclave.
这条街以前是很繁荣, 同时也是很著名的红灯区. 至于是不是很多情妇住在这里就不得而知了, 吸引着我的是这条街的落寞. 这条街落寞到很难跟繁荣这两个字扯在一起. 当你身在其中的时候, 你就会感受到如何的很难跟繁荣联想在一起.
这条小巷宽约十尺, 两排二十间双层民房朝夕相对; 这一相对, 便已共度逾百年, 也因为距离近, 早年住满人时, 人情味特别重. 巷宽也不过是一线道的车辆宽而已, 残落的门框, 退色的漆墙, 偶有从缝隙冒出得杂草, 就像似已经过了风华年代的徐娘, 没有当年的美艳了, 却在这看不到一丝丝昔日的娇艳, 似乎还隐隐听到无奈的叹息在风中回绕着.
这里也保留了百年前英殖民时代的旧模样, 近打锡矿全盛期也是二奶巷最热闹时候; 但是随著矿业走下坡, 二奶巷也渐渐沉寂, 最终敌不过岁月的蹂躏摧残.
Despite the fact that the shophouses are quite dilapidated, and some derelict, many people have found this passage beautiful, brimming with old-world charm and nostalgia. Panglima Lane, better known as "Yi Lai Hong" among locals, or ‘concubine lane’, is the gem of Ipoh. It attracts tourists, artists, photographers and filmmakers from far and wide.
看似被遗忘的小巷, 在经过一轮翻新后, 依然保留着它许多的原有面貌和历史. 怀旧的南洋情调地区, 怀古及现代模式的新颖建筑, 在怡保这地方显得额外抢眼. 除了得到年老辈青睐, 也获得年轻一代的拥趸. 这些房屋大多已易手或转卖至第三手, 只剩一间住了三代子孙的老房子不曾易手, 不过目前已无人居住; 其后代将老房子装修, 并特别在外墙题上 “一九零八年, 颖川, 二奶巷”.
我突然到访二奶巷, 在缘份牵引下走进硕果仅存还有人住的民宅, 看看这旧式楼房格局, 横木条拉式大门, 还有铜门环, 木制百叶窗; 已足以让人愐怀.
如今巷子内有六、七间屋子已经废置, 虽大门深锁, 楼上的窗门却已破坏不堪. 另有三, 四间屋子经过重建, 式样已大大不同, 失去了原来的古朴风貌; 剩下十来间楼房至今依然住着人家, 有的甚至已住了三代人, 与二奶巷可谓感情深厚.
但城市的发展脚步, 似乎走不进那车子也进不了的窄小巷子, 使这条如隐身城市的“二奶巷”, 始终如等不到情郎归来的小妾, 继续独守孤寂.
在二奶巷, 除了原有的熟食生意在继续经营, 整条巷子一片寂静; 早前倒塌的旧楼已重建, 还有两间已破损的旧楼则待重建.
二奶巷英殖民时代留下的楼房, 曾于2010和2011年经历两次倒塌, 虽无伤亡, 却令大部份住宅人去楼空; 被列为危楼的二奶巷, 逐渐陷入苟延残喘的淒凉晚景.
事隔3年后的二奶巷, 大部份店舖已重新装修整装待发, 屋主已有出租的计划, 希望出租给文化及文艺性质行业, 进而发展成为文化遗产旅遊区, 重现二奶巷的光辉岁月.
Today the laneway is a crumbling shadow of its former self, strung with clothes lines, dumped furniture and empty bird cages. Peeling paint and crumbling walls whisper stories of its past.
70年代, 居住在二奶巷的居民 “晾衣风情”, 都会以竹杆架晾衣, 是今日住宅区中绝难一见的景致. 几枝晾衣竹架在两排楼房之间, 竹竿上挂满对面两家人的衣物, 也接通了两家的情感. 在越来越冷漠的现代社会中, 这几枝晾衣竹似乎充满了对现代人的嘲讽与启示.
我可以想像如果当年以前这里是各个二奶聚集之地, 那她们之间的友情该是惺惺相惜, 姐妹情深. 每个早上彼此把衣服晾挂在对方的窗口后, 就互聊起做二奶的心酸. 如果给大房婆发现她们的住所, 两个女人应该会用那根棍子大打出手吧.
Spiral back staircases for taller buildings.
A few of the townhouses were stripped of any furniture and fittings with weeds and wild plants enveloping the premises; a pitiful state for an area that definitely deserves more.
Exposed to the weather without a roof, one of the vacant lots was used as food preparation area for a coffeeshop next door.
今日的二奶巷不少住户都已搬走. 人去楼空, 使得二奶巷看来寂静落寞. 其实早在二、三十年前, 二奶巷曾是旧街场有名的熟食街, 每天华灯初上时, 巷子里就摆了许多熟食摊子, 宛如一个小型夜市场. 当年人们日子过得率性随意, 往往一家大小捧着碗碟蹲在走廊上大快朵颐, 非常热闹. 可惜后来市议会整顿市容, 把卖熟食的小贩集中在小食中心内, 也带走了二奶巷的繁华岁月, 从此寥落冷清.
It is regrettable that a slice of Ipoh's fabled past is going down the drain and future generations will never be able to see these vanishing sights that are so endearing to us. Certain historic parts of the city should be gazetted for preservation as a 'heritage corridor' for reasons of posterity. If these dilapidated shop houses are not restored, it will be lost forever. Hopefully, it is not too late for farsighted individuals to come up with some development plans to revive this quaint part of the city. The Jonker Street at Malacca is a good example! The whole area is closed to traffic and stalls are set up to sell ethnic food, handicrafts and other tourists paraphernalia. That section of the city has been gentrified and it is packed with locals as well as tourists. Compared to Malacca, Ipoh is a much bigger city, with a larger population base. If the businessmen can start ventures in Ipoh, they should take a second look at Panglima Lane and give it another chance to survive.
Undeniably, Panglima Lane is worth saving. It is unique in Ipoh, being the only pedestrian-only street in the City. Behind every door are timeless stories which tell a social history epitomizing a past era, a time ‘when tin was king’. This must be cherished, relished and carried into the future as shared heritage.
古老的二奶巷是重要的历史资产. 窄巷中古老的风情似乎在暗示着怡保的年岁. 可惜路过的人们总是太匆忙了, 都无暇与这位老去的 “二奶” 进行心灵对话. 也许我们都像二奶巷内的住户, 以为失去的并非甚么重要的物事, 殊不知我们任由二奶巷一日比一日破烂冷清时, 我们也正一点一滴的失去了怡保华社的历史.
我真的希望州政府能好好珍惜这条装载文化遗产精髓的二奶巷, 打造出成为怡保旧街场的文化街, 再续当日风华.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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