A different side of Kuala Lumpur

As I approached the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, I couldn’t help but notice the world’s highest twin towers looming in the midst of some of the tallest buildings of Malaysia’s capital city. The stainless steel exteriors of the building glistened against the moonlight, brightening up the skyline of the city. And I understood then; why visitors flock for a tour of the famed Petronas Towers the moment they step into Kuala Lumpur.

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The iconic Petronas Towers at night

But Malaysia’a largest city has so much more to offer besides the iconic towers. I decided to explore it further and find out for myself.

I began my exploration with a visit to Royal Selangor, one of Malaysia’s oldest and most famous pewter manufacturers. Pewter, an alloy of tin, is important to the history of Kuala Lumpur, and at Royal Selangor, I had the opportunity to understand more about the growth of the city as an industrial hub during the tin rush of the 1800s.

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A giant pewter tankard at the entrance of the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. Fun Fact: It is big enough to be filled with 2800 litres of beer

I also took a tour of the company’s one and only factory, where I watched their skilled craftsmen at work. In order to make things even more interesting, I signed up for a workshop at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, where I learned how to make and personalise my very own pewter bowl!

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L to R: A craftsman polishing a pewter container, A craftswoman casting pewter teacup handles, Me with my personalised pewter bowl and a certificate after the workshop

The industrialisation of Kuala Lumpur, as well as Malaysia’s strategic access to global trade routes, resulted in the advent of settlers and empires from all over, and each of them brought in a unique culture with their arrival. An interesting example of this diverse heritage is the traditional art form of Batik. Till date, no one can confirm where it originated or how it became popular in Malaysia, but what we do know is that Batik is an integral part of Malaysian culture. To get some first hand experience, I attended a Batik class at the Jadi Batek Gallery, and learned the art of painting with wax and dye.

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Batik 101

Kuala Lumpur was also introduced to different cuisines by its settlers, and the food available in the city today is an amalgamation of that. The local cuisine is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian food, each with its own distinct ingredients, dishes and flavours. I tried these out (and some more!) at Jalan Alor and Jalan Petaling in Bukit Bintang and Chinatown respectively. These are 2 of the most well known food streets of Kuala Lumpur, that have a variety of stalls and dishes on offer – perfect for my food experiments

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Colourful dumplings at a food street in KL

With all its modernisation, I had expected western food to be easily available in Kuala Lumpur, but what I didn’t expect was the delicious Arabic food I found at Ain Arabia, a street dedicated to middle eastern cuisine. Replete with food stalls and restaurants run by immigrants from the Middle East, this street is perfect for a relaxing evening with sheesha, dinner with some great food, or even a late night snack of piping hot shawarma.

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Middle Eastern cuisine at Ain Arabia, KL

It may come as a surprise, but Kuala Lumpur, the metropolitan city as we know today, was a tropical rainforest until the mid 1800s. The only remaining proof of this is a 10 hectare forest reserve in the heart of the city called the KL Forest Eco Park.

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A tropical rainforest in the heart of the city!

This reserve has multiple walking trails, a canopy walkway, and even a campsite for anyone interested in staying overnight. I hiked along the recently opened canopy walkway, breathing in the fresh forest air, listening to the birds chirping, watching the monkeys play around and I realised then; the beauty of Kuala Lumpur lies in the coexistence of the natural and urban jungle barely 2 kms from each other.

In a nutshell

Where

What

How

How Much

Tips

Royal Selangor Visitor Centre Factory Tour and Pewter Workshop Online Booking: Click Here Factory Tour is free

The Pewter Workshops cost RM 65 or RM 180 per person, depending on the workshop selected

A free shuttle service is available for pick up and drop from/to your hotel. Please mention this request explicitly in your online booking, and do ensure that you are punctual for the pick up

You can buy Royal Selangor products from their factory outlet

Jadi Batek Gallery Batik Painting Class Online Booking at the Jadi Batek website: Click Here

Booking via LokaLocal, a local tour operator in KL: Click Here

RM 50 onwards In case you want the painting washed afterwards (in order to remove the wax), the gallery can do it for you, but you’d have to come back and collect it the next day
KL Forest Eco Park Hiking in KL’s forest reserve No prior booking needed, unless you plan to camp overnight for which you can contact the Forestry Department here Free In order to reach the main entrance of the park, type ‘KL Forest Eco Reserve’. Any other selection may lead you to an outdated entrance.

There are distinct markers along the walking trails for your reference

Have you seen a different side of Kuala Lumpur? Tell me in the comments below!

 

2 Replies to “A different side of Kuala Lumpur”

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