IPOH, around halfway between KL and the Thai border, is named after the upas tree which once thrived in the area, whose sap was used by the Orang Asli for blowpipe-dart poison. But like the rest of Perak, Ipoh’s wealth – and position as Malaysia’s third largest city – comes from tin mining. With the discovery of a major field here in 1880, Ipoh became a prime destination for pioneers, merchants and fortune-seekers from all over the world. To accommodate the rapidly increasing population, the city expanded across the muddy and lethargic Sungai Kinta into a “new town” area, its economic good fortune reflected in a multitude of colonial buildings and Chinese shophouses. Now the Perak state capital and home to half a million people, Ipoh’s low-key, likeable historic streets make for an appealing day’s stopover, with the bonus of the outlying Chinese cave temple of Perak Tong, and the anachronistic ruin of Kellie’s Castle.
Continue reading to find out more about...
Street names in Ipoh
The layout of central Ipoh is reasonably straightforward, since the roads more or less form a grid system. What makes things confusing is that some of the old colonial street names have been changed in favour of more Islamic alternatives, but the street signs haven’t always caught up; hence, Jalan C.M. Yusuf instead of Jalan Chamberlain, Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakri for Jalan Clare and Jalan Bandar Timar for Jalan Leech. In practice, locals recognize either name.