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Jalan Petaling - Chinatown
It's the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. A huge market where they sell just about anything - from food sold on the streets to fake sneakers and "Rolex watches".
Petaling Street is essentially a covered area that's the local Chinatown... But the real Chinatown looked far more extended, way beyond Jalan Petaling.
The gate through which you can enter the Kuala Lumpur Chinatown
Shops everywhere and you can bargain!
I didn't buy anything, having purchased various souvenirs here and there, elsewhere in the city. But I couldn't help strolling several times across the mysterious Chinatown.
The covered street. There even are hotels in this labyrinth. I hear, big cockroaches too!
It's quite a large area, but pretty much everywhere you can see the same types of products. The cheap "Made in China" (and elsewhere: Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia) goods...
"Stalls forbidden" or what could the sign mean?
There are lots of food stalls and restaurants, but to me it seemed like almost all had severe hygiene issues. And I don't like purchasing food prepared on the streets, anywhere. Except on a very few rare occasions/situations...
The fruit and vegetable sellers' stalls look particularly beautiful. Like still life with fruits, exotic Malaysian style...
"David Beckham" likes fresh fruits... And wicked hairstyles! (Of course it's not him!).
And the most exotic fruits on sale are totally fresh... Bananas, pineapples and just about anything has a much stronger flavour here than in Europe, for instance.
Because the produce in Southeast Asia is collected while still fresh.
Lots of places to eat. Weird smells emanate from everywhere...
Locally renowned foods are the laksa (traditional Malaysian spicy noodle soup), curry noodles, hokkien mee (noodles with either prawn, eggs, fish or else), ikan bakar (Malaysian-Indonesian charcoal-grilled fish).
Beautiful old Chinese building
Let me tell you a few words about the history of the Kuala Lumpur Chinatown...
This market has formed at the beginning of the 20th century, when many Chinese arrived to Kuala Lumpur.
Especially Cantonese and Hakkas came to the city, mainly working in the tin trade industry and in nearby mines.
Traders are currently mostly Chinese, but there are Indians, Malays as well.
Originally, the Chinatown was situated on the Jalan Tun H.S. Leee street. It has shifted to Petaling Street since then.
In 1870, civil war had broken out between the Hokkien Ghee Hin and the Hakka Hai San secret societies.
The British decided to use force in order to put an end to the war. Unfortunately many old buildings were destroyed during the fighting.
Interestingly, as I walked and explored Chinatown, I felt like in a small town within Kuala Lumpur.
I could say - it's a small society within a big society, small town within a big city...
But the long walk can be exciting and except the many places where you can eat, there aren't many options for sitting down and taking a rest.
All sorts of decorative elements everywhere
Chinatown is different... a lot more crowded, there's a lot of "buzz" and all sorts of smells...
Ethnically, the Central Market is more mixed. But it's not excluded that you'll find plenty of products here and there.
Weird building makes me think of camouflage
I honestly couldn't choose which one I liked the most - the Central Market or the Chinatown.
On one particular day, the Chinatown got so overcrowded that I could barely get across it - I even had to walk behind some stalls by apologizing to the merchants and asking to allowed to pass.
It does get quite hot in there. Very...
I've been to few places with such a density of people per square meter!
And because much of it is covered and there are lots and lots of products hanging everywhere, I felt oxygen scarcity. Air doesn't circulate that well in the middle of Chinatown.
As opposed to the Singaporean Chinatown, this one felt much more alive. Noisy, totally in use and it seemed bigger.
While, the one in Singapore was cleaner, but felt a bit like a museum area...
Their buildings were well-restored, but many closed to the public. Less shops, less people, less noise and the list could follow.
But that was during my first trip to Singapore.
Getting back to the main subject: I adored Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown - the atmosphere, the beautiful vintage architecture and I even enjoyed a bit of bargaining.
Endless places to eat...
I wanted to buy a souvenir Kuala Lumpur shirt and I asked for the price.
The friendly seller said 100 ringgit (gosh, that's 30 bucks!) and I got shocked... he quickly brought the price down to 50, but I still wanted less, so 30, 20 and I decided to walk away.
The guy literally screamed "15!" after me, which would have been way below the price. I told him I changed my mind, I don't like the design that much.
Then he barely let me walk away: "How much do you offer, then?".
Wowie, we were already below 5 US dollars and he still wanted to bargain!
Just for the sake of bargaining and probably creating satisfaction to the client, some sellers will kindly let you rip them off!
This is a bit towards the edge of Chinatown
Chinatown is a different kind of World, which adds more pleasure to visiting KL.
I hear hotels are very cheap in there, but I wanted to be closer to the LRT and away from too crowded areas.
There's an entire World in there!
And there's even more than you've read and you've seen so far...
Check out the beauties below...
These are not far from the entry gate seen on the top (first) photo
These buildings were just across the street - opposite to the Jalan Petaling entry gate.
Too bad the lighting conditions weren't right. The Sun was shining from the opposite direction and the street was soaked in dark shade.
Delicious building facades on the shadowy street
But, it's not just the Chinatown that you'll find in this part of the city...
The Central Market (Pasar Seni) isn't far away from this area and along the Jalan Tun H. S. Lee street, you will find the Sri Mahamariamman Temple (it's the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, dating back to 1873).
Walking out of Chinatown... slowly, slowly less shops, less restaurants, less people.
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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