|STG Boutique Cafe, where Hotel Thye Loy was situated|
As a young man, my grandfather came over from China to seek his fortune. In days when hotels were rare, my enterprising grandfather rented two shoplots at Hale Street (now renamed as Jalan Tun Sambanthan) from Lam Look Ing, a rich man in Ipoh. And from there, he started his pride and joy, Hotel Thye Loy.
|The 2nd shop, where Mummy used to stay in, is now a "Tao Fu Fah" shop|
My mother remembers my grandmother cooking huge amounts of food as they also needed to feed the hotel staff. Being the youngest daughter, my mother was assigned "lighter" tasks, one of which being the bearer of report cards. She had to collect all the report cards of her siblings and herself, then take them to the hotel to obtain her father's signature. Unfortunately, she also bore the brunt of my grandfather's grumbles when her siblings' grades did not meet my grandfather's expectations.
Another of my mother's assigned duties was to walk over to the hotel to ask her father for the family's daily allowance of RM20. In those days, RM20 was an enormous amount of money; my grandmother was able to feed her family and an army of hotel workers with that money. This childhood chore was most disliked and to this day, my mother is financially independent and NEVER asks anyone for money.
|The back lane where a little girl stood sentinel|
Skipping over to the hotel to look for her father also held its rewards. When my grandfather was in a jolly mood, he would take my mother's hand and lead her to a father-daughter yumcha session at a nearby dim sum restaurant. My mother recalls fond memories of sharing char siew bao, har gow and fish balls with my grandfather.
When other hotels started coming up in the late 1960s, Hotel Thye Loy's business was adversely affected. Despite his wife and children's nagging to close it down, my grandfather held on tenaciously to his hotel. By then, the family was no longer staying diagonally across the hotel at Leech Street (now renamed as Jalan Bandar Timah), but had a house in Canning Garden. My mother and her sister, Aunt Sow Kwan, would take turns to drive their father home from the hotel every night.
My grandfather finally, albeit reluctantly, let go of Hotel Thye Loy to retire. After all, his nine children were already working. Unfortunately, he did not get to enjoy his retirement as he succumbed to a heart attack in 1972, three years before I was born. Some of his children believe that his ill health could have been brought on by closing down Hotel Thye Loy as he did not seem a happy man since then.
So it was over today's Sunday tea that Mummy reminisced about her childhood at our Sunday tea venue. And I got the chance to feel closer to the grandfather that I never had the opportunity to meet.
|An opulent yet reasonably-priced cafe|
|Tempting array of desserts|
|I detect a colonial feel to the tasteful decor|
|Our heavenly walnut brownie|
|My Baby Strawberry Tea Mocktail and Mummy's Green Apple Juice|
|Sideview of STG Boutique Cafe, where there's another entrance|