It is really sad that a great number of native KL-ites, or even those from the greater Klang Valley area, don’t really take the time to explore the historic core of downtown Kuala Lumpur. I know I’m making a generalization, but if you were to walk around the area yourself, you’d probably come to the same conclusion. Many of the people frequenting the area are either tourists trying to understand and appreciate the architectural heritage that our city offers, members of our country’s vibrant immigrant worker communities, or the smattering of locals who continue to operate warungs or small shops there.
This is different to other historic town centres in Malaysia such as Malacca and George Town, which have emerged as vibrant centres for art, culture, food and history not only for foreigners and domestic tourists, but most definitely for the locals themselves. There are many quaint cafes, restaurants and stalls that dot these two historic city centres, making them pleasant places for strolling, relaxing or even people watching.
This should change given that the Government has invested a lot of money into making the areas surrounding Pasar Seni more pedestrian friendly. To that end, heritage trails through Central Market, Dataran Merdeka and Medan pasar were created. This is one of the projects under Entry Point Project 7 (EPP7) of the Greater Kuala Lumpur National Key Economic Area under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).
I visited the area to check out how things are shaping up in the area. This is essentially a continuation of my visit around the Pasar Seni which I documented here.
Walking from Pasar Seni LRT station, I made my way to Kasturi Walk which is located adjacent to Central Market. Kasturi Walk is named as such because it is located on Jalan Hang Kasturi. A quick Google search shows that this road was redeveloped into a pedestrian-friendly open-air market in 2011. The arch on the front end of the walk is basically a huge wau. Tacky and ugly, in my opinion.
The picture below shows the stalls which sell a variety of knick-knacks and Made-in-China souvenirs. It essentially is a tourist trap.
After walking through Kasturi Walk, I turned left onto Lebuh Pudu. This area has been the subject of the Government’s beautification efforts over the past several years.
It is a pleasant surprise to see how the area has matured since DBKL and other government entities worked to make the area more pedestrian- and tourist-friendly. The walkways are spacious, with ample seating and greenery. The old shoplots have also been restored (or at least, re-painted).
Another good initiative was to place maps of the area for tourists to refer to. In general, they were clear and helpful. There are signs of wear and tear though.
I understand that I am in the minority with regard to the recent brouhaha over banning motorcycles from coming into Kuala Lumpur, but it is tough not to agree with our FT Minister’s sentiment when you see something like this happening all over the city centre.
You can see at the far end of the picture above that people are taking advantage of the space provided to just relax and people-watch. We need more of such public spaces in the city.
Walking along the road, one could not help but notice that much thought has been given to ensuring that the walkways and greenery are pleasing to the eyes.
Lebuh Pudu. Very clean road. Enforcement officers however need to crack down on vehicles being parked on the yellow line in this area. There are only two lanes, and traffic normally builds up here in the evenings.
The tourist information boards however have been vandalised, plastered with ah long stickers and scribbled with graffiti.
The following picture shows the base of another tourist information board in the area. Cleaning and maintenance clearly are lacking, despite the fact that it actually was thoughtfully designed and constructed.
Similar to what’s happening in Penang and Malacca, street art work is also popping up in central KL. One nice example can be seen here:
Crossing the street, but still on Lebuh Pudu, one can see that a lot of money has also been put into the cobblestone crosswalks. They look nice and I think they’re worth the investment.
All in all, the work that has been done in the area is quite encouraging, although as with almost every development in the country, the key will be maintenance. How will the area look like in 20-30 years time? Hopefully, the good work here can be maintained.
In the next post, I will share more pictures from my visit to the area, specifically the triangle space at the intersection of Lebuh Pudu and Jalan Petaling.