Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chow Kit

I passed through this area almost every day. However, it has been a long time since I actually stopped in Chow Kit. It roughly covers the area around Chow Kit Road and a part of Jalan Raja Laut (Raja Laut Road). These two roads were named after two of K.L. founding fathers.

While Petaling Street is well known for fake goods and Chinatown-ambiance, Chow Kit is in a league of its own. Chow Kit isn't exactly a tourist spot. The area is not for high-end souvenir-seeking tourists. There are only a few three-star-and-above hotels in the area. There are, however, a lot of cheap budget-hotels. These hotels are normally housed in buildings that have seen better days. Most of them have the words 'Rumah Tumpangan' plastered on their signboard. Needless to say, most of these hotels have been around since forever.

Chow Kit main draw would probably be the cheap goods available here. You could buy anything from the not-so-fresh fruits to fairly-fresh vegetables at reasonable price. There might not be a lot of branded items to choose from but you could buy reasonably good no-brand clothes and shoes. Chow Kit could probably be among the few places left that caters for low-income city dwellers. Thus, it would not be a suprise to see a lot of migrant workers patronizing the area, so much so, you could some times forgot that you are actually in Malaysia. Plus, there are a lot of busses that pass through the area. There is also a monorail station nearby.

What I soon discover is that Chow Kit has two faces. It was only 8.30 pm. I needed to photocopy some documents. Most of the shops were already closed. I drove through the narrow roads sandwished among the budget-hotels. The roads were eerily dark and deserted. When I finally found a stationary shop (shop selling office supplies), I stopped my car. As I stepped out of the car, I noticed three ladies by the roadside. I hastened my paces and reached the shop, only to be told that their copy machine was out of order.

While walking back to the car, I took note of the three ladies. Two of them are decent-looking women of Indian decents. They could be in their fourties. They carry with them a little handbag. They appear to be waiting for a lift home. The third lady, was sitting by the curb with her back to me. All I could see was her waist-length hair cascading down her back. It is apparent that the third lady was waiting for somebody. She could probably be one of the many flesh-traders that I've heard plying their trade in Chow Kit.

I quickly got into the car and drove away.

Friday, April 21, 2006


A couple of days ago, I had the chance to lunch in Putrajaya. Putrajaya is the administrative capital of Malaysia. In simpler words, it is where most of the government offices are located.

I went to a place called Taman Warisan (literally translated into Heritage Park). It wasn’t exactly what I would call a park. The building, however, incorporated some of traditional wooden structures. The place was like a food-court with small stalls selling their specialties.

There were Satay (grilled skewed-meat), Air Batu Campur also known as ABC (Ice mixed with all sort of condiments), and what I called ‘standard-Malaysian-eat-out-food’ (the fried and soupy meals). I ordered soup noodles and a glass of barley. Half way through my meal, the rain poured down from the dark sky. I had roof over my head, but the rain came from sideways (the place have no walls).

I had to quickly finish my meal and find somewhere drier. There was nowhere to go actually. There were some shops selling souvenir. There was also a corner displaying some Malaysian antiques tools. There were antique mould for making Bahulu, (a traditional Malay pastry) as well as the thing that was used to pound the paddy grain to obtain the rice grain.

I waited for almost an hour. The rain did not stop. It showed no sign of stopping. It got worse and worse. When I could no longer wait, I decided to dash across the parking lot and got into the car. Thanks to the invention of remote control for car lock, I need not to stumble with my keys in the pouring rain.

It didn’t take me long to realized that I couldn’t really see the road in the pouring rain. So I pulled over and parked the car at Dataran Putra. Took some photos of the area using my mobile phone from inside of the car.

When I finally left Putrajaya around 4pm, the rain was still pouring.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Detour on Friday

Five o'clock. I glanced out of the window. It was drizzling. Suprizingly, the road was clear. I packed my things and rushed out of the building. A few minutes later, the drizzle turned into a monsoon-like downpour. Visibility dropped to a few hundred metres.

Those on motorcycles took shelter underneath overhead bridges. Cars began to slow down before coming to a halt. The traffic had come to a gridlock standstill. It was only 5.30pm. Running low on energy and patient, I took a left turn and exited the main road.

Time to park and chill out. The road led me to KLCC. KLCC is roughly the area that covers the park, the mall, the newly opened convention centre, and, most famous landmark, Petronas Twin Tower. Depending on the weather, the tall towers, along with other buildings, could disappear from city landscape.

I parked my car in the basement, fully aware that it could cost me a bomb. The parking fee is by hours. If you are travelling alone, cheapest way to get to KLCC is by public transport. You could use RapidKL LRT which most locals would call Putra - using its old name. The station is right under the mall. Other option would be by busses. Taking the taxi is not exactly cheap if you get caught in the jams.

I made my way to the escalator. There were throngs of people coming from one direction. Then I remembered about the computer fair in the convention centre. The fair is where vendors display and sell their latest offering to retail consumers. It is perhaps the best place to buy upgrades for your pc.

Since I have plenty of time to kill, I headed to the convention centre. The place have this posh and exclusive feeling to it. Its tall glass windows give you one of the best view of the park as well as the towers. My regret is that I didn't bring along my digital camera. Lucky for me, my recently-bought mobile phone have a camera. The quality is low compared to my digital camera, but at least I could take recognisable-geeky-tourist-photos of the towers.

I left KLCC around 8.30pm. I thought the jams had already cleared. I was wrong. It was still a crawl.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Park and Chilled Out

It was already 5.45pm. It was raining. And it was a Friday. Perfect ingredients for massive traffic jams in this city fondly called K.L. This time I decided to park my car and wait till the traffic ease. In this concrete jungle, I've found a sanctuary to do that - waiting. Waiting for friends. Waiting for a lift to some where else. Waiting the rain to stop. If you ask me to wait, I would most likely pick this place.

It is a mall. It is located at a junction (or is it a combination of some junctions?) of major roads going out of K.L. There's the Lebuhraya Persekutuan, also known as Federal Highway. There's Jalan Klang Lama also called Old Klang Road. And numerous other expressway and highway, all within reach from this mall, mid-V.

There's ample parking spaces. However, depending on the time, sometimes an empty spot is hard to come-by. Roughly, the 'peak' hours during weekends are 11.30am-3.30pm and 7.30pm-9pm. During weekdays, it's 12.45pm-2.30pm, and 6.30pm-8.30pm. Parking fee is RM1 per entry on weekdays, RM3 on weekends and public holidays.

Within its walls, you could find almost everything that you need. There are farmacies and clinics. Hypermarket. Butiques. Gyms. Restaurants. And even cinema.

If you don't want to shop, you could window-shop from one end to the other, floor by floor. If you feet are tired from the walking, you could get a foot massage from a shop operated by Malaysia Association for the Blind.

If you are a bookworm, you can chilled out in the big bookstore. They let you reads almost every books there. If you are tired of reading, you could listen to soothing music coming from the music section. If you have kids or enjoy looking at kids, head to the kids section.

If you are a food-lover, there are a lot of overly-priced gourmet shops and cafes. For junkfood addicts, there are fastfood joints. For the budget conscious, there's the foodcourt.

All in all, if you'll be waiting for indefinite amount of time, the place to be is mid-V where there's plenty to do and the parking wont burn a hole in your pocket.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Mouse and the Pirate

This is a mouse. An optical mouse. A mouse that you use with your pc. Not the mouse you feed to your pet snake. It glows when plugged into the pc. I bought it a couple of weeks ago.

It was not my intention to buy a mouse. I was actually looking for 'pirated' vcds. I don't normally buy vcds, pirated or originals. I either watch the films in cinemas or wait till they are aired in the tv. But this was an exception. I was looking for old films. "Gone with the Wind" kind-of-old films. And possibly older. From experience, I know that your average vcd shops don't have these who-watch-them-any-more vcds on the shelves.

So I made my way to this particular shop in this particular mall (all shall remained nameless), which I know have sizable collection of old films. After hopping on and off buses, I finally reach my destination. To my suprise, the shop have been converted into a computer shop.

me: Apa jadi? (translation: what happened?)
lady owner: Kena cekup. (We were raided)
me: Tak jual vcd lagi? (Not selling vcds anymore?)
lady owner: Tak. Koyak already. (Nope. Broke already)

I guess she must be broke from paying all the fines/compounds to various authorities. This goes to show that the authorities do take actions to curb piracy of intellectual property. And so, instead of buying a pirated vcd, I bought a mouse.

Note: the above conversation took place in 'street-malay' slang.