By Ahzam Nadzri
On the 31st of August this year, Malaysia will celebrate its 61st year of independence. And boy, there’s been a plenty of reasons for us to celebrate the heck out of it this year. (GE14 ring any bells to you?)
And for that, after a thorough discussion here at REI Group, we decided that 61 years of independence is reason for us to be adventurous, and getting on our historic vibes this year.
As we all know, Malaysia is a country steeped in deep and rich history. Every state, be it in the Peninsular, or the Malaysian Borneo, has a story to tell. And our very own capital, Kuala Lumpur, is no exception.
From repurposed colonial-era buildings, to an old ‘kampung’ house brought back from the brink, I, along with my partner-in-crime Nurul, decided to play ‘tourist on a tight budget’. Armed with only RM61 to commemorate our 61 years of independence, we embarked on an adventure around the historic Kuala Lumpur, trudging through the ever unbearable Malaysian heat.
We began our journey from KL Sentral, heading out to Pasar Seni, one of the stops along the Kelana Jaya line heading out to Gombak. From KL Sentral to here, the fare was RM1.20 per person. (RM1.20 x 2 = RM2.40)
Built during the late 19th century, it was once the go-to place for tin miners back in the day to shop for local daily groceries. It is not until the 15th of April 1986, where the place got its current name.
Now serving as sort of an urban cultural hub, you can find many local-made arts, handicrafts, and souvenirs, and the occasional goods as well such as t-shirts, and even ceramic plates.
Furthermore, musical performances are frequently conducted as well by multiple buskers.
Should you crave to eat something local, Western, or a little bit of everything, the small stalls located on the east (right) side of the market can satisfy you.
Simply put, if it’s shopping that you desire, it is Pasar Seni that you require.
Photos by Ahzam Nadzri & Nurul Rustam
Dataran Merdeka (Heritage Trail)
From Pasar Seni, we then continue along the Kelana Jaya line towards the Masjid Jamek station. The fare from Pasar Seni to here costs RM 1.20 (1.20 x 2 = RM2.40). From the station, we then cross the street to Masjid Jamek to initiate the Kuala Lumpur Heritage Trail. In past years, there would be a designated tour, but currently, only the map is available for you to self-guide yourself towards the landmarks, which is exactly what we did.
First up on the trail is Masjid Jamek. Built in 1909 and designed by A.B Hubback who used to work for the Public Works Department (Jabatan Kerja Raya), the mosque used to be surrounded by the muddy estuaries of the Gombak River, which is where Kuala Lumpur got its name.
Along the trail, there are many old buildings ripe with multiple photo opportunity. Buildings such as High Court Building, the iconic Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad, and the old Government Printing Office, which is now the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.
In the interest of time, we didn’t get to finish the whole trail, so we ended it at the National Textile Museum, located across the road from the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. Admission was free and in the museum, both of us got to know the interesting history of the multicultural textiles in this country and how they are made.
All in all, if its sightseeing that you favour, then the Kuala Lumpur Heritage Trail is the one that you should savour.
Lunch Time in Jalan TAR
Due to the extreme heat, we decided to take a Grab ride from the National Textile Museum to head out to the famous Kudu bin Abdul nasi kandar restaurant, located in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. The fare costed us RM10.70.
Opened to the public in 1969, it is said that the restaurant is frequently favoured by the legendary actor, the late P.Ramlee. Among their specialties are multiple flavours of curry, vegetables, and seafood.
For lunch, I ordered the standard budget meal, rice topped with multiple curries, chicken curry, and vegetables. Nurul also ordered the same thing as me, but she picked the fried chicken instead. For drinks, we ordered lime juice and ‘teh-o ais limau’ (iced lemon tea). All in all, the total was RM16.60. Taste-wise, it’s what you would expect from a standard ‘mamak’ restaurant. Perhaps it was the nostalgic value of the restaurant that made many people keep on coming and line up in front of the restaurant.
Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman
After we had our lunch, we continued our journey and head on towards the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman. Less than a 10 minute walk from the restaurant, we then boarded a monorail from the Medan Tuanku station located near the Quill City Mall, and head towards the Raja Chulan station. The fare costed us RM2.00 each (RM2.00 x 2 = RM4.00).
From the Raja Chulan station, it was a 3-minute walk to get to the traditional ‘kampung’ house, nestled in the middle of a bustling city.
Admission fee into the house costs RM10 per person, but the tour guide, Nur Syuhada, was kind enough to give us a special rate at RM10 for two! Probably to support our patriotism, making this article possible.
As stated in their pamphlet, the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman is “one of the oldest surviving traditional Malay houses” in the country. It was built in stages between 1910 and the early 1930’s, and was owned by the local headman of Mukim Bagan Samak, Bandar Baharu, Kedah.
As you can tell, the original location of the house was in Kedah, which is located on the northern part of the Peninsular. In the years of 1996 and 1997, the house was then rescued, restored, and relocated to Kuala Lumpur, all thanks to Badan Warisan Malaysia.
Today, nestled between the high-rise buildings, the house stands as a symbol of Malay tradition, reflecting how the Malay lifestyle was back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. According to Syuhada, most parts of the house remain intact, while some parts like the carvings and the interior had to be recreated from scratch.
Truly, the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman is a gem hidden within the roughs of the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur.
So to recap:-
KL Sentral – Pasar Seni (LRT) = RM 1.30 x 2 = RM2.60
Pasar Seni – Masjid Jamek (LRT) = RM1.20 x 2 = RM2.40
From National Textile Museum – Restoran Kudu bin Abdul (Grab) = RM10.70
Lunch at Kudu = RM16.60
From Medan Tuanku – Raja Chulan (Monorail) = RM2.00 x 2 = RM4.00
Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman donation = RM10.00
From Raja Chulan – KL Sentral (Monorail) = RM2.80 x 2 = RM5.60
Beverages = RM5.10 + RM4.00 = RM9.10
TOTAL = RM61.00
So for this year’s Bulan Kebangsaan, why not show your love for your country the fun way? Go on an adventure around our own capital, and appreciate the nostalgic landmarks and the history behind them, all within the budget of RM61 = 61 years of independence.
Selamat Hari Merdeka, everyone!
Oh, before you go, here’s a video of our adventure!