Tag Archives: Ipoh

AEON Klebang couldn’t fill up retail spaces on opening day

Went to AEON Klebang on their opening day today. As expected, they did not manage to fill up all their retail spaces on their opening day. Instead of putting up green walls, like they did in Kinta City and Station 18 when a shop moved out, they are more clever here by putting up nice wall papers or allowing companies to set up booths to cover up the shame.

AEON Klebang ground floor
Underwater world wall papers and Subaru car road show to obscure three empty lots on the ground floor (opposite Baskin & Robbins).

AEON Klebang empty lot
Astro marketing booth and property road show to occupy retail space on ground floor.

Now to think about it, those nice scenery wall papers on the second and third floors are probably there for the same reason, rather than for shoppers to take photos!

Shops that are yet to open on the opening day are H&M (29th Oct), UNIQLO (30th Oct), Mango (Feb 2016!), Hush Puppies, Nandos, Black Canyon, and a few more which I couldn’t remember. But that is not going to dampen people’s excitement to flock to the new shopping mall. One caution for you all though is don’t let your little ones lean on or stand too close to the barriers that are erected to prevent you from falling down to the ground floor. They look and feel flimsy, and seem to be made of cheap materials. Very concerning!

UTC is one highlight of this government

Went to Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) in Ipoh town center, located at where Super Kinta used to be, to renew my daughter’s passport few days ago. It was a breeze. No queues, plenty of service counters. Photo of my daughter was captured on the spot using SLR cameras infront of their counters. No form needs filling up, as everything is already in their database. My daughter just needed to sign a document alongside with her tiny thumb print 🙂 After that waited 5 minutes to pay for the renewal. Costed us RM100 for a 5-year renewal. And we were told to come back in an hour to collect the passport. So from start to finish the whole process only took us an hour and a half. Superb efficiency. There are other government agencies and utilities offices there too where you can pay bills, renew identity card, settle fines etc. Very convenient. Definitely one of the few highlights under the Najib administration. Will go down well with their attempt to make Malaysia more attractive as a retirement destination.

Whilst on our way back, spotted that BeBe shop was no longer in business. This is the branch in town center, on the same row as McDonald’s.
image

Kinta City Shopping Centre not closing down!

So according to my “deep throat”, the ground floor of Kinta City Shopping Centre in Ipoh is going to be populated by F&B outlets, with existing (international?) retail outlets closed down after Chinese New Year in 2016. GUESS has moved out first, as written in my previous blog entry, with that lot currently labelled “Renovation in progress”, probably paving the way for the change next year (it is difficult to foresee tenant moving in just for a couple of months anwyay?!). And these F&B outlets can apparently have longer opening hours, probably till later into the night. Old Town White Coffee is going to move in, I heard.

This is good news to me, as I seldom buy clothing and such likes anyway. I definitely welcome more options on food. I think it will appeal to local customers too who like to do groceries shopping in Kinta City. In fact many families do like doing groceries shopping in AEON supermarket. So no, Kinta City Shopping Centre is not closing down. Far from it. It is, in my view, going to be transformed into a more functional shopping mall, with more emphasis on local customers. Bad news for those who harbour hopes that IKEA might move in. And it won’t be turned into a hospital, or airport, however ridiculous that may sound 🙂 What I’d really like to find out though is their new layout on ground floor. Should be interesting.

As for AEON Klebang, which is due to open next Sunday (21st October), there will be some duplicate retail outlets with those in Kinta City, e.g. Esprit, G2000, Giordano etc, for the next few months until CNY next year. I wonder if these shops get a bargain deal from AEON for keeping two shops running at the same time. It will be silly not to 😉

Updated on 16/10/2015:
G2000 Kinta City
G2000 has closed too, with a new fashion tenant to move in in November. Perhaps the ground floor make over happens after CNY next year.

Rubbish Abi Motors Perodua Service Centre

Thought I’ll send my MyVi to this Abi Motors Perodua Service Centre for a service having received a leaflet (below) from them in my letterbox.
Abi Motors Perodua Service Centre Promotion
Called them up, looking to confirm their location and the price for a service. The rep was okay on the phone, claiming that they are competitive on pricing, but unwilling to tell me further on their prices, saying that they can explain (their packages) better at the shop.

Okay, took the plunge anyway as I wanted to service my car before a trip to KL. It was fairly easy to find, with sign postings after I turned in from Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah Utara towards Bercham. Marketing wise, they seemed to have done alright, distributing leaflets, clear sign postings and okay rep on the phone. But that was about it. When I arrived at the shop, it was a different story. Those who were supposed to serve customer didn’t feel like they wanted to serve customers. I was brought in by a mechanic, to be fair. Initially there was one sitting in the shop, serving customer. Then came a in rep who didn’t bother to ask what I was there for. Another service rep sat down. So there were two idle reps not doing anything, at least not to me anyway. After waiting for a while, I asked what was I waiting for? Did they expect that I was their regular customer? As a new customer, I didn’t know what to expect! Considering that they put out leaflets to try to reach new customers, can their front desk reps at least be prepared that there might be new customers walking in through the door?!! The guy asked if I have made a booking. No, I haven’t. Actually I wanted to check on the price first. But that guy asked me to wait, presumably for my turn. So only one of the three could serve customers. For fxxk sake couldn’t they just hit me with a price list, or at least try to win me over with their service offerings, or anything?!! No, more waiting. They were like bloody bureaucrats.

When it was my turn, the “real” service rep called me over. Oh, he didn’t expect that I wasn’t driving a “new” car. And no, I haven’t got a service history booklet, as I bought the car second hand without one. Now get over it, okay?! Put my number plate into their system, came up with a name. No I’m not called X Y Z. What is the matter, do you expect everyone to come into their service centre first hand owners of Perodua cars? If they want to keep putting off new customers, keep that guy in the job. He’s brilliant at it! Asked for my IC number. No, I’m technically not your customer yet, why would I want to give you my IC number? I just wanted to check on the price first! Quoted RM250 for a basic service. Then my phone rang. Wife already found her way here after picking up my daughter. And I was still stuck checking on the price, which I should have already been given from the phone call.

Anyway with so much anger that I was unwilling to stomach any further, I sent my car to a known garage that is a little out of the way but at least they know how to deal with customers. Why customer services in Ipoh, or in Malaysia in general, so bad? Do they not give out training? And you know what, no one, and I really mean no one, smiled to me during my entire time in the service centre!

Nam Heong’s demise?

Demise is probably too strong a word, when the new Nam Heong wasn’t that great to begin with anyway. But such is the feeling. It is built opposite of the Menteri Besar of Perak’s residence with fancy light reflecting facade.
Nam Heong facade
Rumour has it that RM2 million is spent on furnishing and decoration of the premise. And apparently owner boasted that business would break-even in 8 months. Although I have my doubts, I don’t know enough of their business to really question whether that is feasible.

However what is interesting is, now that a new block of shop lots are built infront of Nam Heong (where there used to be a piece of empty land where people can park their cars), their shop is completely obstructed from view from the roundabout! The large fancy facacde-cum-signboard becomes rather pointless. The shop, which is already difficult to get to, with only one entrance from the main road, is almost completely hidden away from the main road as things turn out. Parking is going to be a nightmare too I would imagine now that there are more shop lots, albeit still vacant at the moment.

I haven’t been dining at Nam Heong for some time, must be over a year now. I shall pay a visit one day again. Not so much for the food, as it is nothing extraordinary considering that I actually live in Ipoh, but just curious to see if their business can defy “gravity” given the negative change in circumstances. Because quite a few pointers seem to suggest that it must be rather difficult to operate a business in that area!

Updated 15/2/2016:
This is a snapshot of Nam Heong on the sixth day of CNY (13th Feb 2016). It is a Saturday, in the evening about 9pm. Elsewhere in Ipoh Garden 冬菇亭 (next to Woolley Food Centre), people needed to wait for tables..
Deserted Nam Heong

Setting up a commercial kitchen in Ipoh

It is incredibly difficult to find information on almost anything in Malaysia. Information is too fragmented, into multiple languages. And people seldom document information on websites for sharing. Especially the Ipoh folks.

I learned the hard way when I started my business. Basically if you know nothing about starting a business in Ipoh you can’t build up your knowledge from Internet research. You need to find contacts, to begin with. But numbers you find on the Internet are notoriously out of date. And Ipoh folks don’t use email. I had to ask around, and I needed to ask the right people.

So if you want to get into F&B (food and beverages) business, you need a kitchen. Before you proceed to get a builder to have your kitchen done up, it is best if you consult suppliers who will supply your kitchen equipment. Turns out that these suppliers provide more valuable input to the kitchen setup than the builders. For example it might be better to construct a drain from the stove to the drain exit from the outset for easy cleaning of the kitchen everyday, particularly if your kitchen is going to be very oily at the end of everyday. Concealed pipes, however large the pipes are, are not ideal, as pipes can clog easily, and they will clog given time! So don’t make the mistake like I did, thinking that you can just design the kitchen like a house kitchen. Engage these suppliers as early as you can, and ideally together with your chef or cook(s) too.

There are two such suppliers, Jit Fung and Snow Mountain. Jit Fung specialises in stainless steel works, like shelves, walls, and custom made stoves etc. Snow Mountain specialises in refrigerators. But both farm out their business to now overlap with each other. So there may not be a lot to choose from between the two. Workmanship of Jit Fung is apparently better, if you plan to have stainless steel walls rather than tiled walls.

Choy Kee egg tarts

Having tasted egg tarts from all around Ipoh like Nam Heong (old town), Hong Kee (along the road to UTC or Super Kinta) etc, think I much prefer the egg tarts from Choy Kee located in Kampung Simee.
Choy Kee bakery
You can also buy the egg tarts in Kampung Simee wet market in the morning, before the bakery shop opens at 11pm. Or at other shops as listed above I guess. The pastry is fluffy but crisp, and the egg is just about firm enough like eating soft boiled egg, easily “melt” in your mouth. Best enjoy when it is still warm, just freshly baked. Yummy.
Choy Kee egg tart

AEON Klebang opening on 21st October 2015

AEON is hiring, with a booth infront of AEON supermarket in Kinta City, for AEON Klebang, Ipoh.
Aeon walk in interview
When asked when AEON Klebang is opening, the girl told me 21st October 2015 is the opening date. Escalators in the shopping mall have all been installed too, as I know. I’m just a little surprised that it is so soon, considering that the market is rather soft at the moment. Very interested to know if they manage to fill up the retail spaces there on their opening day.

Updated 21/10/2015:
It’s the opening day of AEON Klebang. Here is their location if you don’t know where AEON Klebang is:
Location of AEON Klebang

Updated 22/10/2015:
Floor plan of AEON Klebang.
AEON Klebang Floor Plan

Shops directory of AEON Klebang.
AEON Klebang Shops Directory

Restaurants and cafes where kids can play

Recently came across this blog post that recommends restaurants and cafes where kids can play in Klang Valley region. These are fairly decent recommendations. As I have posted before, parents with children do yearn for places where they can sit down and relax while their children can keep themselves busy. However I couldn’t help but to find that these restaurants/cafes, when compared to Cheeky Tots in Ipoh, where I now live, rather underwhelming. By and large they source their toys from IKEA. Some hardly much space or toys for the kids to keep themselves occupied for long.

This baby/toddler play area in itself is already bigger than those you can find in any of the cafes above.

Baby toddler play area

And you have these playhouses,

Play houses

castle,

Castle

reading corner, with some toys too,

Reading area

and of course this elephant in the room (taken from their website).

Main play frame

The Ipoh folks should count themselves lucky to have such a family and kids friendly facility around, as I think it is hard pressed to find something equivalent in KL. In fact anywhere in Malaysia. Sure it is not free to enter, like other cafes or restaurants. But with deals like this, it is as affordable as you can get.

After school deal

Ipoh one of most affordable cities to retire

Interesting indeed that Ipoh is recognised by a western foreigner as one of the most affordable cities to retire. Not that Ipoh is not affordable to live in. My first thought is surely there are plenty of cities around the world that are more “affordable” to live in than Ipoh?! The blogger for US News came up with a figure, amounting to $897 a month, if you want to retire in Ipoh. But regrettably there is not a lot of further insights apart from two short paragraphs which only scratches the surface of what potentially makes Ipoh a desirable city to retire in.

Here are my take on what makes Ipoh desirable for foreigners:

1)      Healthcare, when you are in your old age, is comparatively cheaper than many places, especially the U.S. Well, where else in the world is not cheaper to get access to healthcare than the US?! It is also fairly affordable to hire a maid, from the likes of Philipine, Indonesia, to do your house chores, if not to take care of you as well. So the appeal for retirees is certainly compelling in this sense.

2)      Language should be a plus. Whilst folks in Ipoh don’t speak a lot of English, they can still communicate in basic English, by and large. So foreigners should have little trouble getting on with life, as long as they don’t wander too far off the city…

3)      Environment and infrastructure are not bad for such a city in a developing country. To start with, Ipoh is surrounded by mountains, which to me is very scenic itself. Air quality is okay, occasionally hit by haze from forest fire in neighbouring country, Indonesia. Development is catching up even in this sleepy town, with plenty of housing and commercial developments. Traffic is on the rise too although not choking yet. So not much to shout about in terms of air quality in general I would say. Stay away from urban areas and one on Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme told me that her husband is no longer suffering from asthma. Water is cheap in Ipoh, and in abundance. Most people however install their own water filter at home as water is not drinkable directly from tap. Traffic congestion is not an issue in Ipoh, especially if you are a retiree as you mostly only travel during off peak hours. You can get from one end of Ipoh to another in probably half an hour. But you do need a car to get you around, as local public transport is virtually non-existent.

4)      Wide range of food available, starting from very affordable prices. Eating out, decent local food, can be cheaper than cooking at home. And increasingly you can find more sophisticated gastronomic experience in Ipoh too. Whilst not as affordable as local food, the availability of such options is important as I can imagine that foreigners will fancy eating food  they are accustomed to back home sometimes having myself lived in overseas for long period of time before.

5)      Accommodation is fairly affordable. Used to be very cheap to own a house in Ipoh. But property boom in the far east has driven house prices up, even in Ipoh. Renting is however still comparatively cheap. Because rental yield is low, condition of rented properties is generally quite poor. So you may need to fork out more (i.e. at least RM1,000 to RM1,500 a month rental) for more palatable properties…

6)      Western influence makes it easier for westerners to adapt to life in Ipoh, from shopping malls, supermarkets like Tesco, fast food chains, to familiar household and food product names, you name it. Alcohol drinking, although expensive, is common in Malaysia, despite it being perceived as a Muslim country. And lately coffee drinking culture is catching up in Ipoh too, in settings as wide ranging as by the roadside type stalls to individualistic boutique cafes to chain coffee shops like Starbucks.  There are also affordable international schools to cater for families with children. Activities for young children, should you have any, are however very limited, whether to do with the hot climate or not. Having said that there is a very commendable indoor playground in the form of Cheeky Tots which even short stay tourists recommended it!

Hence Ipoh in my view is a good place to retire if you have a small budget, and want to live a simple, slow pace life. If you want further sophistication, there are no concert hall, quality museum, technology center or such likes to occasionally keep you occupied though…