Sunday, December 21, 2014

relative hospitality

What made the biggest impression on us in Ipoh was not so much the food or sights, but hospitality.

I have a cousin in Ipoh. 

Thim Gor Gor (Thim Kao Fu to the kids) used to stay with my folks when he was a young man working in Singapore, and he was there for nine of my growing up years, under the same roof, keeping me and Choon entertained when he wasn't at work.

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* Thim Gor Gor (left) and his brother who was also staying with us, with Choon and me. It was Choon's 3rd birthday, in 1980.

Then he got married and moved to Ipoh where he eventually started his family and his own industrial oil business.

In Ipoh, I was just going to swing by for a visit, say hi, go out for a meal.

Little did I know.

The one meal I paid for in Ipoh was the one we had on the day we arrived, before I called him.

Once we got in touch, he took over. He paid for every. Single. Meal. Big ones, small ones, coffeeshop stops, restaurant spreads. One man paying for my entire family of five. I could never get my ringgit out fast enough, not even for a cup of coffee.

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I have never tried so hard in my life to pay for anything. I insisted, I fought, I tried to be covert, I tried to sneak payment before he did, nothing worked. At one eating place, I threatened the serving lady – If you don’t take my money, I won’t come to Ipoh anymore! He said – If you don’t take my money, I’m not going to patronize you anymore (he’s a regular). 

She took his money.

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* He has a habit of serving food, which he says is what he usually does for his own kids

It got to the point where the kids were waiting for me to successfully treat him in thanks for his hospitality and they’d wait for bated breath, waiting to see what new strategy I’d come up with. Every time, they’d sigh. Jo in particular, would whisper fiercely to me – You didn’t pay AGAIN, Mummy?! WHY??!

I Whatsapped my folks in despair: What do I do?

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* At Thim Gor Gor's house, where he offered to put us up instead of having to pay for a hotel stay

In addition, he chauffeured us everywhere. Picked us up every morning from the hotel, brought us around and then brought us back.

We enjoyed Ipoh as much as we did was because we didn’t have to worry about a thing. The best eating places, the best sights and things we might not have been able to do (parking in hard-to-park places, peeling Ipoh car park coupons of which we had none or knew where to buy from, ordering food from the car from popular joints instead of walking out) were done for us.

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* Showing KK at the Geology Museum how the old tin miners used to separate the tin

KK and the kids were all stunned at being treated so nicely by someone they hardly see, and we were truly grateful. As KK said philosophically, let's accept and enjoy his hospitality. But make sure we return it when he comes to Singapore!

1 comment:

francesca said...

Agree with KK. ;)