Rummaging through old boxes that have been sitting in the corner of my room collecting dust (during the lately spring cleaning for the lunar new year) had unleashed a gush of nostalgia. As snippets of the past are unearthed, a certain poignant fondness tends to fill the heart. Exploring old towns during my travels, too, can ignite similar emotions.
Nothing ever seems to change in sleepy Ipoh. Until now, that is. All of a sudden in the last couple of years, Ipoh’s old quarter is showing signs of a chic revival as quirky cafes and guesthouses open their doors there. Stylish new cafes have also opened elsewhere in the old quarter, spurring the old-school shops selling traditional food like pastries to spruce up their storefronts.
While the past is rarely flawless, it is often romanticised. Putting up at a classic, old building that was turned into a cafe certainly kick started the trail. The unique concept of preserving an old building and giving it a new purpose did lead to an exciting stay. The Ipoh heritage trip late last year had the feel of a torn-down place, perfecting the step-back in time for me.
As I hoofed it around the area, the rustic buildings laden with history that lined the streets of Ipoh Old Town promised a fruitful heritage and culinary discovery to a keen traveller. I was particularly curious to see whether Missing Marbles Cafe in the heart of Ipoh Old Town has lost their marbles or found them in all the right places. Missing Marbles is actually located in the same row with Burps & Giggles Cafe (see my previous blog post on Burps & Giggles cafe at this link).
两年前，一名年轻人希望活化旧街场，他一口气租下数个弃置多年的空间，装修改建成餐厅和咖啡馆，两间名为 Burps&Giggles，之后在隔壁又开了一间名为 Missing Marbles Cafe。
Missing Marbles front door, the optical display windows making it a very unusual restaurant faced.
Taking a step into Missing Marbles is like stumbling into Alice's Wonderland. It is a curious and curiouser concoction of whimsical, vintage and art. Even the red tiled five foot way outside the cafe has a carefully sketched out hopscotch - which I couldn't resist hopping on! For a brief moment of time-traveling, doing the Hopscotch can be a wise way to ignite a conversation about the good old childhood days.
The cafe used to be an optical shop and gives a new meaning to the word shabby chic. Layers of old paint are streaked across the concrete walls looked like it was untouched since the 50s. For the nostalgic, you can find old school round metal tables and stools that used to be popular at outdoor hawker centres before plastic was mass manufactured.
All the colourful lampshades infused a cheery, vibrant charm to the laid-back surroundings. Aside from removing the staircase to the upper floor, a big portion of the ex-optical shop is retained to sustain that nostalgic aura.
True to its name, rows of marbles-filled glass jars as well as other brick-abrac stretch across an old wood and glass shelf.
The whimsical vintage look of Missing Marbles is a common aesthetic theme in the old town Ipoh. Artistically arranged bicycle seats adorn peeling walls where handwritten menus also hang and a mishmash of old-school furniture give it its nostalgic feel.
I must say that the whole old town Ipoh is reminiscent of the boom in George Town which began five years ago on the steam from a newfound interest in heritage tourism. The joint listing of George Town and Malacca as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2008 sparked a nostalgia wave. Five years later, Ipoh became a natural beneficiary of this resurgent interest as it still has an old quarter which remains largely unchanged since its heydays.
Ipoh’s revival is being driven by its wealthier sons, as was also the case for George Town. Can this new surge in heritage appreciation revive Ipoh’s dwindling fortunes and save its crumbling shophouses?
Well, all i can say is that nostalgia can be actually good for business.
Missing Marbles 咖啡馆在怡保旧街场提供一个安静舒适的环境让你好好享受一杯香醇的咖啡，顺带享受那得来不易的悠闲时光。
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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