You know you’ve arrived at the beautiful city of Ipoh when you drive through the enchanting limestone hills of Perak and set your eyes on the huge Hollywood styled ‘IPOH’ sign against its backdrop. In addition to this are the beautiful art-filled walls of roadside cafes, most of them painted by the immensely talented Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian- born artist. The capital city of the state of Perak, Ipoh, intrigues you and tugs at your heartstrings for all the right reasons. A prior warning to you all, for the high usage of adjectives in this writing, because it is justified if only the best ones are used to draw a scenic picture of Ipoh!

Ipoh Street Art by Dr. Suma Menon

Guaranteed, not a lot of you have heard of this city before, let alone seen the particular assemblage of these four letters. I don’t blame you, because Ipoh has always run its course modestly, in the humbling background of its culture, consistent weather and geography. What makes it so wonderful is the blend of its ancient past and contemporary present, something you experience on either side of the Kinta River, one of the tributaries of the Perak River, the second longest river in Malaysia.

I’d confidently say, if you gave the people of Ipoh ‘space’ (and I mean that in its most literal form), they’d come up with the most beautiful ideas and turn it into something alluring, be it a pleasantly designed restaurant or an inviting little spa. This then becomes your safe haven, your paradise, if you will. Speaking of paradise, Ipoh’s diners are next and are significant because of the variety of food they offer that screams, ‘Lazat!’ in Malay or simply put, ‘Delicious!’. Again, a no-brainer, because of the people’s constant love for experimenting with new dishes – attracting large crowds around food vendors.

Tauge Ayam by Mrs. Cecilia Lopez

This most certainly feels like I’m advertising for the city and helping promote it. Truth is, I’d do it repeatedly, without a doubt, because I believe Ipoh is deserving of all the love and warmth it is showered with!

This city has always been effortful in conserving its rich history through the presence of its museums, British Colonial Architecture, fests and heritage centres. Proud of its roots and cultures, Ipoh also knows how to have a good time and let its hair down, if any! A fifteen-minute breezy drive from town, “The Lost World of Tambun” is inarguably Ipoh’s favourite family holiday destination, a theme park built around natural hot springs surrounded by its overlooking hills. Apart from amusement parks are bars and resto-pubs such as “Bricks & Barrels” and “Michelangelo’s Pizzeria” to name a few, that caters to every inch of your happiness and outwardly answers any of your existential questions!

Ipoh’s splendour is depicted through its exotic and diverse ecosystems that include all things good and natural – cave temples, lakes, waterfalls, castles, rainforests and Hot Springs Retreats! Ipoh’s growth comes from its discovery of Tin, the mineral initially found during the seventeenth century that gradually helped the city build itself around tin industries. This is why you may come across plenty of Tin factories and exhibitions showcasing various tin-related memorabilia in and around the vicinity.

The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat by Mrs. Devika Rani

The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat by Mr. Henry

Besides Ipoh’s tropical environment and unified interests, the city also doesn’t shy away from its absolute love for Cinema in all its languages, given the incredibly diverse multilingual community that dwells here!

What I genuinely believe contributes to much of Ipoh’s uniqueness and specialty is its dedication to moving ahead with sundry trends and patterns, while simultaneously, reminding every individual of its bountiful and respected history. Ipoh rightfully captures the essence of Perak’s exotic nature and hence, has every prerogative to belong to a country that is called ‘Truly Asia’! Period.

Tauge Ayam by Mrs. Cecilia Lopez

P.S. If you ever find yourself sitting at a Malaysian restaurant (especially, in Ipoh), don’t forget to order the ‘Tauge Ayam’ or ‘Bean Sprouts Chicken’, along with a ‘Kai Zhai Peng’ for dessert!