Anyone familiar with Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur will know it by its nickname, KL. And anyone who’s spent time there will know the street in Chinatown called Jalan Petaling, that unnatural conglomeration of modern storefronts, restaurants and street stalls well known for counterfeit fashion. Over it all a high glass roof, called the Green Dragon, has been thrown, apparently in a misguided effort to project charm while appearing modern. I’m not a fan. However, if a wanderer comes to the southern end of it and crosses Jalan Sultan, they find themselves on another Jalan Petaling, what the version now behind them must have been not so long ago.
Faux Jalan Petaling above, authentic Jalan Petaling below.
I set out after breakfast at the Tian Jing Hotel on Jalan Sultan, having read about an interesting area nearby where a neglected neighborhood on the edge of Chinatown was being restored. I made a right out of the hotel, walked to the end of the block where Jalan Sultan makes a right turn. After another block an intersection with a traffic light, faux Jalan Petaling to the right, authentic sedate Jalan Petaling to my left. I went left.
My amble took me down a long traditional business block on Jalan Petaling . . .
Continuing , a right turn onto Jalan Balai Polis and a weekend brunch crowd . . .
. . . and shiny new businesses in restored shophouses.
The alley between Jalan Petaling and Jalan Panggong is Lorong Panggong which I found out the back door of Beryl’s Chocolate store. An easy-to-miss opening off the alley is Kwai Chai Hong, Little Ghost Lane.
Project Kwai Chai Hong sits amid 10 restored shophouses, some facing Jalan Petaling and others onto Jalan Panggong. One enters the space over a wooden bridge, wall murals recreate the feeling of 1960s Chinatown. The space between the walls is given to art installations, early 2023’s theme, Poetic Spring Garden. It was buzzing with local tourists. Children seemed to be especially taken with it and the adults taken with photographing the children.
And one more of the giant lump for good measure.
Jalan Petaling is mentioned in all the guides and websites, the one under the big green roof, though most seem to be about as enthusiastic about it as I am. So maybe the lesson in this story is when all signs point right, in travel as in life, left sounds good to me. And it was, a very good morning indeed.
And before I go . . .
An hour or so before I took this photo I was taking the picture of the black building with the tower behind, standing about where the front wheel of the car is. A woman drove up with no indication that my presence in front of her was an impediment to putting the car in the space I occupied, though clearly not a designated parking spot. I cannot deny I was pleased to see what you see, “policeman writes ticket.” A satisfying end to a morning well spent.
Next time, on to Penang.
All episodes of PortMoresby's Farewell to Asia Tour can be found here.
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