Culture Shock Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog

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Sultan Abdul Samad Building
I arrived Kuala Lumpur (KL) on the evening of December 10th. Arrived just in time to check in the hotel, take my shower and go to bed. I have planned to go to the well-known Jalan Alor to have supper, but not expecting to be still full from my airplane meals, I decided to ditch the plan and start fresh in the morning.

I ventured out of the hotel at around 7.45 am. Wanted to start roaming the streets of KL taking pictures. I've taken pictures of he Petronas Twin Towers earlier in the year, so photographing the towers was not one on my priorities. This time, I wanted to take the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, and Jamek Mosque and perhaps head down to Central Market to see what was in store for me.
Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque)

Took the Light Rail Transit (LRT- train system) from Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)to Masjid Jamek, and began looking for potential places to photograph, on my way to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It was around this time I started to feel a sense of gladness that I was not living in this part of KL for many reasons. At about 8am, the streets were already bustling with people, and roads with cars. Street stalls set up on carts, selling breakfast to commuters. Getting used to so many people condensed in one area was one issue, and crossing the road was another.

I reached the place where stood the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. I needed to cross the road to be able to take the frontal face of the building. My issue, crossing the road. It was a 2 way road, each having 4 lanes, so 8 lanes all up. Sounds easy if you were in a place where road rules are observed. There was a Traffic Police in place of the traffic lights (I think its quite common during peak hours), guiding the flow of traffic. Quite obviously the pedestrians were forgotten. Maybe forgotten is not the word... The pedestrians were not considered. I observed the locals crossing the road. It was like Moses, parting the Red Sea. I am no Moses, but in such a situation, you need to be. Tailing a fellow pedestrian, I managed to sprint across the road alive. I got the picture I wanted, and away I went, only to realize that I needed to cross the road again.

My next stop, Jamek Mosque. The Mosque opens at 8.30am where visitors can walk the compound of the Mosque and take pictures. So, thats what I did. I was greeted by a caretaker of the mosque, who asked if I was from China. I told him I wasn't, however, he thought it would be nice to provide me with some reading material on the Islamic faith. He passed me a Japanese leaflet. I thanked him and started taking pictures of the moorish designed structure.

The Jamek Mosque is one of the oldest Mosques in KL, designed by English Architect, Arthur B. Hubback, opened in 1909. The mosque served as the main Mosque until 1965, when the National Mosque was open.

The compounds were not big, however I was fascinated by the architecture, and design of the mosque, I clicked away.

It was about 8.45am when I left the mosque, already sweating. So, off I went to Central Market. To arrive there, I needed to cross a number of roads (if you can remember, it was one of my issues), and walk by one of KL's busiest part of town. Well, Central Market is located next to it. Kota Raya was my culture shock. Kota Raya is the hub for most busses in to and out of Kuala Lumpur. I hear bus providers shouting destinations trying to attract people onto their bus. I feel sticky from sweat. I felt like a tourist. The busy side streets leading to Central Market was filled with century old shop lots. I see food displayed, exhaust fumes too. That was enough to put me off street food.

I arrived Central Market at about 9am. Nothing was open. Asked the security guard if he knew when shops will open. I was told 10am. I had about 1 hour before anything really opened. It was either I hang around the place for 1 hour, or go back to the hotel to take a shower. Inside, I was thinking to myself how on earth would I be able to feel comfortable for an hour, in such a place without fearing for my life (unsupported assumption). So, I went back to the hotel to take my shower.

I hopped on the the LRT back to KLCC. I experienced culture shock number 2, a packed LRT. The LRT doors opened, people rushed in, and packed themselves in to the LRT, as if it was too long to wait 10 minutes. I was one of them. We were packed shoulder to shoulder, and neck to neck. As the doors were going to shut, another girl just pushed herself into the train, and squeezed between myself and another passenger. To make space, I breathed in. I guess I have not travelled on a packed train in a while.

I was glad to be back to the hotel. It was just a couple of hours in to my day, and already I have shocked all my senses.  

All the culture aside, the one thing I return to KL for is the shopping. If you were into the fashion brands, you know you’ll be able to find it in KL. My favorite place to shop, just because its familiar, is the Suria KLCC, the mall below the Petronas Twin Towers. I had a peak into the new Pavillion, which opened just recently. And reckon it would be a great place to spend the day away from the sun. Went to Low Yat Plaza and thought I got a great deal on 16GB Compact Flash Cards, for my digital camera. Instead of Starbucks, I frequent Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for their Vanilla flavored “The Ultimate” ice blended drink, which is the greatest invention of all. Its a vanilla based drink, blended with chocolate chips and coffee beans and ice, topped with whipped cream. A drink unavailable in Sydney.

Although the hectic city of KL had shocked me, it excites me as well. It caused me to think of how I have changed. And caused me to think how returning home became an experience enough to shock me.  Kuala Lumpur is definitely worth visiting for all of the above experiences and much more. And in my opinion, KL is potent enough to be a great stopover destination and for the same reason a bad one.

kc_chan17 says:
He he he. I am from Kota Kinabalu, but have been living in Sydney for about 7 years now. The funny thing is I never felt this way before. Maybe its because I didn't not go to Kota Raya on my last trip. As long as you're in Bukit Bintang, KLCC area that is fine. I think Sunway and Subang area is also not that bad, but its kinda far.
Posted on: Dec 16, 2008
raymondkong says:
I am from KL & agree with you wholeheartedly on what you've written. It's all about the fittest survive. We have got used to the life here. By the way, where're you from? I suppose in the developed country. How I wished I could be away living in countries like Australia & NZ where life is leasurely
Posted on: Dec 16, 2008
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Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque)
Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque)
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