Remembering Mistress Lane (二奶巷)

“Remember to bring your camera home!” quipped my mom on the phone prior to my last trip back to my hometown Ipoh, Malaysia. She mentioned something about a certain alleyway that was about to be renovated and I should take a few photos for memory. I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about so it was quite a lesson in history for myself.

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Enter Lorong Panglima, more commonly known as Mistress Lane (二奶巷) or yi lai hong in Cantonese among the older generation locals. It is said that back in the days, rich Chinese businessmen kept their mistress in these houses along the narrow alleyway. Apparently, some of the houses were also used as opium dens!

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Today, most of the houses are abandoned. The government is also planning to spruce the place up a bit though I am unsure if they will be tearing some buildings down. There are still some signs of life though as a few of the houses  seem to be occupied.

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Fun fact: See the ceiling where there is a plank of wood missing? Apparently that was the ancient equivalent of our modern door peephole. The plank of wood is not nailed on (which explains why it’s missing now) so the occupant can move it to have a peek at who’s knocking at the door. Pretty useful trick if you’re running a sleazy establishment.

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Such colourful history behind what looks like an abandoned, unassuming alleyway today.

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