10 reasons why I love KL

This 1st February, Kuala Lumpur turns 44 years old as a federal territory of Malaysia. Love it or hate it, KL is the lady in red that makes an impression. Tacky or classy, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

But in keeping with the concept of this blog, and in honouring this city I’ve lived in for 17 years (gosh, it has been that long?), here are 10 reasons why I love KL and will continue to call it home, even though I’m from Penang. Yes, I still identify myself as a Penangite even though I’ve lived longer in KL than Penang.

 

  1. KL is great for non-drivers

Traffic can be horrendous in KL for drivers during the rush hour commute, and expensive parking rates will put a huge dent on your wallet if you’re working here, but it’s relatively easy to move around by public transport or on foot. As someone who can’t drive, KL works for me.

My main mode of transport into the city is by train (KTM Komuter, LRT, monorail). From the train station, it’s possible to walk to many places, unlike the suburban townships that are mostly surrounded by highways. And the best way to discover the city’s nook and crannies is on foot.

What about taxis? Yes, our taxi drivers are on the world’s worst list, but there’s Uber and GrabCar now. Buses? Frequency and punctuality of buses into the city centre still need to be improved but within the city, you can hop onto the free Go KL buses.

 

  1. The greenery is a soothing sight for sore eyes

Despite the skyscrapers that dominate the city’s landscape, KL is still quite green. Shady trees provide respite from the scorching sun and soften the edges of the concrete jungle. There’s even a forest reserve (Bukit Nanas) in the heart of the city, at the base of KL Tower.

 

  1. Its population is very diverse

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KL has always been a tempat cari makan (a place to make a living) for out-of- towners and foreigners alike. Today’s Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Myanmarese are last century’s Chinese and Indians. You can find a sense of belonging even among strangers. When I first moved here, I used to attend mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. I called it the church for lost souls. Unlike community churches in the suburbs, it’s easy to maintain anonymity here if you want to. Old city dwellers, Filipino maids, diplomat families, new arrivals… all can come and go without much fuss in the house of God.

 

  1. Free activities

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City living is always expensive but there are places you can go to for free. How about catching a free movie at KLpac (look out for free screenings of international films every two months or so) or Content Malaysia Pitching Centre?

If you’re an art buff, visit Galeri PETRONAS, Ilham Gallery, and Bank Negara Museum and Art Gallery.

 

  1. There’s something to do every weekend

I don’t know why some people say there’s nothing to do in KL. There’s so much happening I need a 3-day weekend (one day to go out, one day to do housework and one day chillax and recover). With Facebook, it’s so easy to seek out groups with similar interests.

If you like photography, join photo walks or look out for special talks and exhibitions. For arts, history and culture, there are events organized by groups such as Malaysian Heritage and History Club, Pusaka and Badan Warisan Malaysia. If music is your thing, there’s the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and No Black Tie.

Also check out Meetup for various interest groups (sports, arts, social, etc.) and Time Out KL.

 

  1. The malls have character

Ya, ya, there are too many malls here, but let’s go with the positive spin, okay? There are different malls for different folks.

KLCC is a personal favourite of mine. It was my weekend hangout I first moved here largely because I was renting a room then and needed to get out for some me time. After church, I would take the train here for lunch, a movie, Sunday banking, book browsing at the Kinokuniya bookstore, errands at the post office, grocery shopping at Isetan, art admiration at Galeri PETRONAS…

I don’t go there often now but I still love the place for it’s international vibe. The crowd is cosmopolitan, the layout is simple enough that you don’t get lost in the maze, the size is manageable (you can walk from one end to the other in about five minutes) and there’s a park outside.

While KLCC is prim and proper (yet approachable), Sungei Wang Plaza is the kooky cousin, and still hip at 39 years old. Think Vivienne Westwood vs Anna Wintour. This is the place to go for funky fashion and fun finds. Be warned that you could get lost in there, so if you like something, get it then because you might not be able to find the store again.

Pertama Complex in the grittier part of town is underrated as far as malls go. It may not look much from the outside (or even inside), but this is the kind of place where you can get your shoes resoled, fulfil your rocker dream with bespoke leather pants, give people something to talk about with a holster for your gun and source for sewing supplies – do you know how hard it is to get something as simple as press tarts and elastic bands in the fancier malls? This 40-year-old mall is also home to the Yoon Hin bag shop, where you can get genuine backpacks (Osprey, Deuter and the likes) at prices much lower than anywhere else. Just bring cash (credit card not accepted) and be prepared that Madam Sia may not like you for some reason.

 

  1. The weather
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The weather is always nice for a swim, especially in the evening when the sun has warmed up the water.

Hell, yeah! I actually love the tropical weather here. I hate the cold and I don’t like being bundled up and having to carry a jacket, scarf and gloves whenever I go out. I love the freedom of going out wearing something light and not having to add and remove layers of clothing. You complain so hot? Pop into a shopping mall or restaurant lah. There’s air conditioning everywhere and sometimes, even the Mat Sallehs complain our air con is freezing (I sometimes wear a wool jacket in the office).

 

  1. Democratized dining

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KL is a city of wonderful contrasts. You can be hoity-toity and indulge in omakase for RM380 at Nobu, or slurp delicious noodles next to a drain for under RM8. I tend to go for chap eats because they often taste better when it’s just about the food rather than the décor or image.

 

  1. You can play tourist in your own city

Every now and then, be a tourist. Go for a guided walk and discover your own backyard. Do the museum or temple thing. Eat your way through Chinatown and Little India. I bet you would be saying “I didn’t know we had this!” a lot.

 

  1. We have some amazing architecture

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As a person who is drawn to aesthetics, I love many buildings in KL, both old and new. In the old part of KL, the influences are varied: Moorish (Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station), art deco (Central Market, Lee Rubber Building, OCBC Building), colonial (Muzium Telekom), traditional (Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman) pre-war shophouses (Medan Pasar). For modern architecture, the condominiums around KLCC give the city a very international appeal.

So there you have it, my top 10 list. How about you? What do you love about KL?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for mentioning the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman!

    Reply

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