Thursday, December 31, 2009

Around Chinatown

Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant, bustling part of the city. It is roughly bordered by Jalan Petaling, Jalan Tun H S Lee and Jalan Sultan Here the old and the modern blend so well to give us the heady sights and flavours of a place that doesn't seem to sleep. When evening comes and dusk falls, Chinatown beckons visitors with a restless air of gaiety.

I started my walkabout in the mid morning so as to avoid any evening showers . At the oldest temple in Kuala Lumpur , the Sri Maha Mariamman temple along Jalan Tun H S Lee , I found the exterior and interior of the temple were covered with thatch as renovations are ongoing. The thatch covered the tiered gopuram ( gateway) which depicts the universal pantheon of Hindu deities. Just round the corner along a lane, the flower sellers had their stalls gaily decorated with colourful garlands , balls of jasmine and small clay pots of ghee - all for worshippers to offer to the deities.

This sign outside Klinik Mun Seng along Jalan Tun H S Lee , made me smile. Gosh, these teeth are huge ! Another advertisement doubled my toothy smile - ' A Shaggy Toothbrush is a real Dog '! Beside it were some dire proof of bad teeth, caries and all!

The palette says it all - just step right in and get your art materials. This is Nanyang Art Supplies Sdn Bhd, a well known name for art supplies. Along the same road, Jalan Petaling, there's another old name in this business, Venus Art and Stationary which has been in business for 4o years . It specialises in Chinese ink painting and calligraphy materials.

This painter was engrossed in sculpting a dragon on one of the pillars outside the 121 year old Taoist Kuan Ti temple. Kuan Ti is a highly respected people's defender deity. The painter paused when I asked him how long he had been doing this job. ' Over 20 years,' he proudly said and pointed to the God he had sculpted which took him 4 -5 months to complete. This artisan also sculpted the figurines on the 2 pillars in the temple proper.

Ducks galore ready for customers along Petaling Street. While I was there, the vendor of Sze Ngan Chye ( literal translation : 4 eyed boy) was taking orders on her mobile phone for ducks. They are sold at RM40.00 for a whole duck and RM 20.00 for half a duck.

I had walked about one and half hours and the duck looked tempting fare for a grumbling stomach as noon neared.

These small, colourful cheong sam outfits would just dress the little ones so prettily on any occasion, especially on Chinese New Year day. It brought back memories of my 2 girls who loved dressing up too.

The Sin Sze Si Ya temple was founded in 1864 by Kapitan China Yap Ah Loy who dedicated it to the deities for helping in the civil war (1870 - 73) and later donated the land.

Under the big, shady umbrella this man and many other vendors work hard to sell the lush, tropical fruits from the carts. Here you see papayas, longans, dragon fruits, Chinese pear , mangoes and langsat.

You will certainly catch the whiff of seafood as you pass along shops like these that sell dried seafood stuff. Piles of choice looking dried prawns, oysters, ikan bilis are stored in gunny sacks for your picking on the five foot way. Look out for other tasty foods - dried red dates, longan, Chinese mushrooms, fish maws, sharks' fins and an exotic array of preserved eggs.

Colourful calendars hang ready to greet the year 2010. Red is always welcome as it brings good luck and prosperity.

As Christmas is just round the corner, many shops were seen already in the mood for the festive season. Huge Santas were seen waving and smiling to patrons, one and all!

It's easy to overlook the old buildings standing just right there in Chinatown. Don't forget to look up from your gadgets to gaze at the buildings. One has to cast one's eyes upward . The design and architecture hark back to the 1900s. Maybe next time, I'll just get hold of a heritage trust friend and that will solve my guessing and I can fill my heart's content with the rich info that will definitely unfold.

There's much, much more bustling activities that only Chinatown can offer to the curious. Do visit and discover and be surprised! Be prepared to haggle vigorously when in Chinatown and you will find the prices affordable.

My discovery of fascinating Chinatown ended with a nice bowl of wanton mee in one of the old coffee shops.


  1. Oh Keats, you take us to all these magical places. Thank you. And Happy New Year.

  2. Hi
    Ocean Girl, every place has its own magical places. Chinatown in KL is very much part of Kl and I daresay no visitor leaves KL without a visit. Happy New Year to you and your family too:)

  3. I haven't been to Chinatown for a very long time and your pics make me wanna visit the place again!!

  4. Happy New year and wishing you & your family all the best for the coming year.

  5. Strolling along the street of Chinatown here in our country is also fascinating, though the place is very crowded. The culture do amaze me.

    Happy New Year to you!^^

  6. For me, Chinese New Year preparations are never complete without a visit to KL Chinatown. Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year 2010!

  7. Hi
    Veronica Lee, Chinatown has a special appeal. Though there are no branded shops there, you will be surprised you can go on a spending spree as there are many things you want to lay your hands on! At least that's my experience ! Buy and suffer later!!!

    Wenn, thanks for visiting. happy new year to you!

    Anncoo, ditto. May your wishes come true and good health prevail.

    Sashindoubutsu, thanks for visiting. I know where there is a Chinatown, it inevitably beckons visitors. Ours gets crowded especially during Chinese New Year.

    Autumn Belle, you're right! And Chinese New Year is not too far away. Hope you have a wonderful year ahead of you too.

  8. Thanks for the lovely year-end walk through Chinatown, Keats! P.U. -- that roast duck cart -- I always hold my breath when I walk past it! LOL! But I love the flower wreath peddlers, the Nanyang Art Shop (just a hop away from my alma mater) and the "Tukang Gigi" shop with the giant model teeth. Sure brings back memories!

  9. Hi ~Covert_Operations'78~, i've come to realize you are every inch a KL girl! You should publish a book on your experiences and let the world know KL. Happy jaunts and memories:))

  10. Hi
    David Jr, am sorry for the late reply. Thank you for coming to my blog. Already the new year is well on its way and heralding another festival - Chinese New Year.Hope the New year brings you your wishes.


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