Ipoh, the capital of Malaysia’s northwestern Perak state, has seen its fortunes rise and fall. At one time the centre of a great tin mining boom, it drew migrant labourers from across southern China – predominantly the Hakka people – until eventually the mines ran empty and this flourishing era ground to a halt. The city was left to quietly fade.
This period of neglect is perhaps what forestalled an architectural overhaul in the late 20th century, one that ultimately might have robbed Ipoh of its distinctive visual character; rows of shophouses, alternately restored and crumbling, interrupted by art deco-inspired facades of the colonial era.
Chinese heritage continues to bear a significant influence on the local culture. Well-preserved hawker favourites and the famous Ipoh White Coffee, roasted in margarine and served with sweet condensed milk, gather morning crowds at the start of a new day.
All photos: Pentax 67 medium format, Kodak Portra 400.