Kah Meng of Hideaway Lodge

28 May 2015


I heard from Qiu Ying that one of our university friends, Kah Meng, recently started a homestay in Seri Kembangan. I was shocked, "What? Seri Kembangan?"

If you are familiar with the area, it's apparent that this place is neither touristy nor interesting. Seri Kembangan is known for food, but homestay? Never heard of it. Why here? Why?

For curiosity's sake, I decided to pay him a visit and we had a short conversation on the story behind this. 

KAH MENG, ARCHITECT

First and foremost, the location surprised us! This homestay is right on the busiest street of old Seri Kembangan Street, visible but hidden. How strange! Why did you choose this location?
Actually this is a family-owned property. Previously this was a Chinese traditional medicine clinic. When we took over, we considered several possibilities. We either transform it into a homestay or hostel, or the last option: rent the whole floor to UPM students or foreign labours. After some consideration and discussion, we decided to turn it into a homestay.

Why would you think that renting it out to students will be a bad idea? You get constant income every month!
Well, because of the odd location of this place, price of the rent is low and we are relatively further from UPM than the other residential areas. Plus, having students or foreign labours as tenants will be a major headache.
By transforming it into a homestay, I have the freedom to rent it out as a whole unit or by room. 


When did you start this homestay?
Just a couple of months ago. 

How's the response so far?
Initially we promoted via Facebook and websites like Airbnb. Our guests are mainly young people or business travelers.
It was quiet at first until our homestay was featured in an online article as one of the best places to gather and organize a weekend party. After that we started to receive more guests. Once there were nearly 30 people here.
In fact we just had some young guests staying here until this morning. You wouldn't want to see the mess they made. Furniture shifted and beer bottles all over the place.
I'd be really happy if families can come over and stay.

Yeah I think this place is awesome for a small and warm party, I immediately think of The Kinfolk Table, maybe ask a bunch of good friends, share food and talk here all night. 


Are you managing the homestay alone?
I'm running it with my girlfriend. We stay two floors above. 

Since both of you are studying Master of Architecture now, how do you divide your time between this and your own project?
Currently we do our projects at home. Since we stay upstairs, it's very easy for us to manage. We can walk down and welcome the guests. And when they leave, we can easily come down and clean up. Everything is flexible.

I think he has all the good criteria. This unit is family-owned, he stays upstairs and his girlfriend is managing it with him. Best of all worlds.


What is the style of the interior design?
Ermmm, no particular style. Previously this was a Chinese traditional clinic  where the whole space was partitioned into rooms and looked dark. Now we decided to leave it spacious, airy and bright. I think you can call it an 'honest' style. I want to showcase the original texture of the materials. For example the white brick wall and wooden furniture..

How long was the preparation process?
Around half a year to prepare, design, renovate and buy furniture. One major benefit of being an architect is I know how to get cheaper price. Hehe.

What is your vision for this homestay?
Ng Sek San is a landscape architect that develops Sekeping. He utilizes and incorporates his professional knowledge into nature and into environment. He uses his own design to adapt and affect the surroundings. One example would be Sekeping Kong Heng in Ipoh. He uses his own design and slowly reshape the landscape and ambience of the area. That really inspires me.
Hopefully we can do that, hopefully. Haha.


"设计不一定要用豪华的东西才是美的,简单也可以很好。"
"The beauty of design is not necessarily defined by price and luxury. Keeping things simple can be just as good."

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I'm extremely grateful that Kah Meng could spare time for this short conversation, moreover I brought my mum and sister along, which could be intimidating.

To tell you the truth, my mum asked him more questions than I did. She is curious for his plans and visions. All of us agreed that this place has a great potential. We talked a bit about the possibility of him running a cafe here or where he plans to bring this homestay to.

Most of the time I was listening quietly to him and thinking, "Great, this is ideal." You have a day job, and also you have another platform to channel your interest and vision. This is great.

I remember him saying, "If you have an idea, do it."

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