Son Of A Hotel Owner.

Son Of A Hotel Owner.

I had a childhood friend whose family operated a hotel with the grand sounding name of Hotel De Luxe.

When he went to London to study, his reputation as a hotel owner commanded a lot of respect. His uni mates thought it must be a legendary hotel like the ones in Hollywood or Rome, housed in an art deco building. He told them the hotel had a casino.

In reality, it was a ‘rumah tumpangan’ or a budget lodging house above the family’s coffee shop or kopitiam. The casino was the mahjong table in a corner. Lol.

The friend has since migrated to the states. I am sure he will make it big.

I know about rumah tumpangan as I worked for the late Malay movie legend Mustapha Maarof. He owned a production house and was very frugal. We, the film crew, must look for the cheapest hotels when were were outstation. It may sound tough but I now appreciate the experience and challenges of traveling on a shoestring budget.

Those ‘rumah tumpangan’ were the predecessors of today’s slick budget hotels. The walls or partitions don’t touch the ceilings. That means you can hear everything from the next room. There is usually a ceiling fan in the middle, a spittoon and a mosquito coil provided. A thermos flask for hot water and a bar of 999 Chlorophyll Soap were also provided. The anti skin infection soap was a good idea as the blankets were furry from wear.

If you are lucky, you can order food from the coffee shop downstairs. Famous Yong Suan and its nasi ganja in Ipoh is a good example. When the highway opened up, it eliminated travel time and the need to stop overnight. Unfortunately, the owners were not online savvy and made no affiliations with online agents and were unable to compete relying on walk in guests alone.

There was one in every town, big or small, to cater to the traveling salesmen and van drivers or delivery men. It is a legacy institution fast fading,

Picture of Lok Ann Hotel from 1938 boarded up and awaiting demolition to make way for the MRT. The Chinatown hotel is a venerable landmark with a coffee shop on the ground floor. Pic was taken in April 2015. The giant flag bearers were part of the flag vaulting team in a chingay parade. .

#history #rumahtumpngan