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Finding Ipoh

May 18, 2015

An easy getaway out of KL lies 2 hours north in the city of Ipoh. With beautiful limestone hills framing its horizon, the city is rich in both natural beauty and tangible history.   Where else can one explore a castle, feed turtles in a secluded garden, peek inside a haunted house, wander around a ghost town, and spot clever street art?Kellie's Castle

Kellie's Castle

With aged walls and bricks and tiles imported from India, Kellie’s Castle is a truly unique place to spend some time.  Built by the wealthy Scotsman William Kellie Smith in the early 1900’s, the home features many interesting rooms and tunnels.  Though never completed (due to Kellie’s unexpected demise), Kellie intended for the structure to include an indoor tennis court and rooftop courtyard.  What remains today is the ideal place to take in Ipoh’s signiture vista of limestone hills while getting a history lesson along the way.

Ghost Town Perak

Residents of Ipoh's "Ghost Town"

Residents of Ipoh’s “Ghost Town”

Papan, Perak is another place you must visit if you’re heading to Ipoh.  Referred to as a ghost town (though people still live here), this quiet neighborhood was once a vibrant tin mining town.  Visually captivating, the streets and alleyways present a sort of dilapidated time capsule.

Papan Perak Ipoh

Sybil Kathigasu’s clinic still stands at 74 Main Road.

Papan was home to Sybil Kathigasu, Malaya’s war heroine, and incredibly you can still spot the clinic where she aided the resistance during the Japanese occupation.

The facade of a mysterious and purportedly haunted house.

The facade of a mysterious and purportedly haunted house.

What ghost town would be complete without an actual haunted house?  If you are brave enough you may venture off the main road to Istana Billah.  Locals report that much paranormal activity takes place on the palace grounds, including the eerie sound of drums and call to prayer.

Istana Billah up close.

Up close, Istana Billah looks like just the kind of overgrown, architecturally interesting backdrop you’d find in a spooky film.  I peeked through the window and found an unexpectedly charming sight; A table set with a pristine white table cloth indicated that the place isn’t completely abandoned…

Inside Istana Billah

Inside Istana Billah

Another scenic venue can be enjoyed at Sam Poh Tong Temple.  This Buddhist temple located 5km south of Ipoh is said to be the largest cave temple in the country.  After walking though the limestone cave visitors will find a natural atrium.  It’s an alluring site and thus easy to see why in 1890 a monk from China made the cave into his home and place for spiritual practice.

The courtyard feels like a quiet oasis.

The courtyard feels like a quiet oasis.

One of the things I love about Ipoh is how visually layered the landscapes are.  In Old Town Ipoh, you will find accidental gardens around every corner.

Old Town Ipoh

Secret Gardens abound in Old Town Ipoh.

Secret Gardens abound in Old Town Ipoh.

And, just like Penang, Ipoh too has inventive street art.

Subtle street art at its best.

Subtle street art at its best.

Ipoh Street Art

Street Art in Old Town IpohIpoh is such a historically rich, naturally diverse, and culturally dynamic city, that it makes for the perfect quick sojourn out of Kuala Lumpur.

Concubine Street Old Town Ipoh

Click here for a printable map of Old Town Ipoh.  Happy exploring!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. pjsrnice permalink
    May 21, 2015 5:20 pm

    Another home run….loved every nook and cranny!!

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