chinatown walking tour

October 24, 2008

So what’s this walking tour I keep going on about? Well, I found a very old pamphlet at Casa Myyear in KL when I was home in August. It outlined a two-part walking tour of KL’s Chinatown, and was drawn up by Victor Chin at the end of the 80’s. He was instrumental in raising awareness of the cultural heritage the buildings and shophouses in the area held, through a series of colourful watercolour paintings of each on a stark white background.

The area is also one of my favourite neighbourhoods in KL. The tour we did focused on the area north of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, around Medan Pasar (above) and Leboh Pudu. Through it we also found the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, which I didn’t even know existed, down a little alleyway that I have passed many times.

Between the time the guide was published and now, many of the traditional shops selling spices, fabrics and dried foods have disappeared. The area has taken on a new role as home to many Nepalese migrant workers, so shops and restaurants catering to their needs have mushroomed. As with any city, the streets and its character evolve.

Not too many photos I’m afraid, as our tour was momentarily disrupted by rain, after which it started to get dark quickly. But personally I have only known, and as a result love, the beautiful old buildings with the mould, creepers and disrepair. The newly renovated ones often have a tarted-up look I can’t quite reconcile. Make sure you look up above street level the next time you are in the area, and you’ll be surprised what you find.

PS – I got in touch with Victor via his blog, and he tells me that copies of walking tour map are still available from him. So just drop him a line if you are interested!


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