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.

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