Ah yes, the mention of Ipoh brings up fond memories of salt-baked chicken, beansprout chicken rice, and white coffee — the popular Malaysian destination was definitely already a hit among the most dedicated food lovers.
It is then unsurprising that the once-sleepy, former mining town was listed by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 best destinations to visit in Asia in 2016. From then, Ipoh had undergone a massive transformation into its most modern incarnation yet as hipster cafés and boutique hotels reigned supreme.
In Ipoh, History Becomes Insta-Worthy
Today, most visitors are drawn to Ipoh for the curious sights and the colourful facade, apart from the decadent spread of local food of course. And among the many mystifying sights to see, the strangely named Concubine Lane is one that should not be missed. The popular street is steeped in history, and at the same time, shrouded in mystery — providing ample incentive for shutterbugs and Instagrammers to pay the highly photographic locale a visit.
First, a short history lesson. After a fire razed the old town of Ipoh in 1892, a mining tycoon named Yao Tet Shin assisted in the reconstruction efforts by contributing lanes of shops in the process. As a gift to his three wives, the tycoon gave each one a lane, along with the rights to collect rent from them. The three streets where the wives presided in then came to be known (and is still referred to) by the wife/concubine moniker.
- Concubine Lane (二奶巷): By far the most popular and crowded of the lot, Concubine Lane AKA Lorong Panglima is still referred to by its initial name, the aforementioned street was gifted to Yao’s second wife i.e. the first concubine.
- Wife Lane (大奶巷): Now referred to as Lorong Hale, Wife lane was dedicated to Yao’s first wife. While logic dictates that the lane belonging to the first wife should be the longest and most lively, that is not the case here. On the contrary, Wife Lane is a quiet, short, and nearly-empty street.
Second Concubine Lane (三奶巷): Featuring an art installation of lovely, colourful umbrellas above-head, Second Concubine Lane or Market Lane is the last street gifted to Yao’s third wife i.e. the second concubine.