The best way to explore any place is on foot. Nothing better than gloriously getting lost in the hidden alleys of the city or stumbling upon some hidden restaurants. So on our very first day, we went on mural hunting and heritage walk of a sleepy town – IPOH coupled with rich history and architecture that screams about the bygone era. Being the third largest city in Malaysia with the medley of remarkable colonial buildings and modern architecture, no doubt it has its historical significance. Once a tin mining hub of Malaysia, it is transformed into the cultural capital of Malaysia.
As our bus full of journalists and bloggers from various countries drove to the old town we passed by numerous crumbling yet charming shops and houses. After ten minutes we stopped at one of the huge building architected like a palace, as I peeped out of my window, I thought it might be a museum. As we all got down, our guide said,” Welcome to the old town of Ipoh and in front of us is the Railway station of Ipoh famous as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh. This was our starting point of the heritage walk.
Standing tall was an impressive whitewashed colonial Anglo-Asian architecture. Initially, it was supposed to be a hospital which was later turned into a railway station constructed by Arthur Benison Hubback who served in India before moving to Malaysia. And in front of the station is the famous Ipoh Tree. The name Ipoh is derived from this tree, Pohon Epu or commonly known as Pokok Ipoh. The sap of this plant is poisonous and was used by Orang Asli.
Right opposite to the railway station was another stunning colonial building the Ipoh City Hall.
Walking few steps ahead and following our guide we reached another landmark the Birch Memorial Clock Tower, built in 1909 in memory of James WW Birch, Perak’s first British Resident, who was assassinated in Pasir Salak on 2nd November 1875. The friezes on the clock tower illustrate the growth of civilization, featuring 49 figures in world history. The figure of Prophet Muhammad has been erased from the panel. It is said that some local Muslims were offended by the depiction of the Prophet, which is forbidden in Islam.
And then began our Art of Old Town mural hunting. More about that hop over to our previous post
( Read: Art of Old Town Ipoh)
We even visited the Old Town Coffee shop to sample one of the most popular coffee joints of Malaysia. You cannot miss this for sure when in Malaysia so ditch Starbucks on your next trip to Malaysia and try the famous Old Town white coffee.
The cafe was right next to the famous old man drinking white coffee mural and in the front was the Ipoh football ground.
Next, we ambled our way exploring the cobblestone alleys of old town experiencing the rich culture of the old-world, colonial era. The walls of the old town have been restored and turned into pieces of art with interesting murals painted by various artists and the old shops have been turned into quaint cafes where live music is played in the evening.
About Heritage Walk:
The heritage walk is about 4 miles long covering most of the historically important places and might take approx. 2 hours to complete all the places. Below is the heritage walk map which you can follow.
How to get to Ipoh:
By Bus & Car: From Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh is a mere 2 to 3 hours drive. Cars can be easily rented or you can take a train or bus which are connected to many cities in Malaysia. It took us close to 3 hours to reach Ipoh with few stops in our way for breakfast.
By Air: The Sultan Azlan Shah Airport is the only airport in Ipoh. It is near Gunung Rapat.
Facts: Ipoh is the capital city of Perak state, Malaysia and also one of the largest cities in the country. It is approximately 200 km (125 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur and 130 km (81 miles) south of Penang on the North-South Expressway.
The Tales of a Traveler was invited for the Fam Trip organized by Malaysia Tourism.