Clockwise: The mangosteen hawker, fresh veggies and meat. Pictures taken in Bazaar Baru Chow Kit with my Nikon D60 (19th December 2009)
When I was a teenager, I rely on public buses to travel to Kota Raya and Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur (KL). The buses go through Chow Kit area. In those days, I've always wanted to explore Chow Kit. But, I've heard way too much about this place. Over the years, Jalan Chow Kit has become famous for all the wrong reasons. It was infamously known for prostitution and also a haven for drug addicts and petty thefts.
So, I was kind of freak out after hearing all that. The conscious urge to avoid becomes difficult to ignore. Two days ago (19th December 2009), I braved the 'treacherous' streets to see the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It was my second trip in years!
According to Wikipedia, Chow Kit is a sub-district in central KL, Malaysia. It is located around Jalan Chow Kit (Chow Kit Road) and is enclosed by the parallel streets of Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. It is named after the tin miner and municipal councilor Loke Chow Kit. Today the area features a large Indonesian community, and more recently, a small African community. It has a daily wet market known as Bazaar Baru Chow Kit which is arguably the largest wet market in Kuala Lumpur. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chow_Kit
Clockwise: Anchovies, tempe and fresh tomatoes. Pictures taken in Bazaar Baru Chow Kit with my Nikon D60 (19th December 2009)
I believe Bazaar Baru Chow Kit is the best hidden gem in the city. This market is not visible from the main street. You have to walk into the bazaar to locate the stalls. It is amazingly HUGE! The shops and hawker stalls are all over the place. You need to check this place out!
I felt very safe knowing that the police were on every corner watching (the police station is located right in the middle of the market). Nowadays, Chow Kit is cleaner. On that day I saw Alam Flora contractors and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) workers sprucing up the market and its surrounding area.
Malaysia’s unique history of peaceful diversity is visible in Chow Kit. The largest Sikh temple in Southeast Asia is located right in the middle of Chow Kit! The temple is known as Gurdwara Tatt Khalsa Sikh Temple. It is a spiritual home to KL′s 75,000 Sikhs. This grand Sikh temple is a familiar sight to those who make their way to the market nearby.
Cheerful young helpers. Pictures taken in Bazaar Baru Chow Kit with my Nikon D60 (19th December 2009)
In addition, I saw a Chinese temple and a mosque. That's really AWESOME! I did not expect to see that in Chow Kit. This place illustrates a history of peaceful religious co-existence and cultural exchange among the followers of the great faiths of Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism.
Next, I walked into the maze of Bazaar Baru Chow Kit. The market is a kaleidoscope of colors and fragrances. What better smell is there than fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers? This bustling market is the epitome of the many lively and exciting markets in KL with its effervescent atmosphere. I really LOVE the experience. It's so busy and hectic!
Hawkers would shout trying to attract crowds, attention and possible customers (check out the YouTube video below). You can hear them shouting:
"Duku Langsat!! MURAH! MURAH! 1 kg = RM 3"
(Translation: Get your duku langsat! It's CHEAP! Only RM 3 per kg").
Believe it or not?! You can get the cheapest local goods and produce such as fruits, vegetables, tofu, spices, meat and fish in Chow Kit. Absolute freshness and quality direct from wholesale market. The traders themselves encourage you to try their fruit, to prove it's the best in the market.
Clockwise: Small tangerines, En. Sulong the petai hawker and 'buah salak' a.k.a snake fruit. Pictures taken in Bazaar Baru Chow Kit with my Nikon D60 (19th December 2009)
Along the way, I met some wonderful hawkers. These workers are cheerful, friendly and approachable. I had a wonderful chat with En. Sulong - the street hawker. He was peddling petai (translation: stink beans).
En. Sulong has been selling petai and veggies for almost 15 years. He usually harvests the petai from his kampung. He makes a meager income but he is a happy man. According to him, halal food should come from halal income. Later, I asked his permission for some portrait shots. He obliged immediately.
After that, I stumbled upon the egg seller, mangosteen hawker and 'ikan masin' (translation: salted fish) trader. It was an amazing experience meeting the real people on the street. These are the hardworking and dedicated Malaysians who contribute to our economic growth. It was great talking with them.
Clockwise: The hardworking Malaysians, Pick your fresh fruits. Pictures taken in Bazaar Baru Chow Kit with my Nikon D60 (19th December 2009)
Overall, Bazaar Baru Chow Kit is a wholesome market. This traditional market has everything under one roof - veggie, meat and fruits. It's cheap, fresh and delicious. Most importantly, we are dealing with a bunch of courteous hawkers. Their combined and concerted efforts were a true reflection of Malaysian hospitality and kindness.
I've found Bazaar Baru Chow Kit to be the most pleasurable and colorful trip I've ever done. Tourist will LOVE our Chow Kit experience. I've met a couple of backpackers along the way. Our foreign visitors were equally impressed and gave their big thumbs ups. Tourism Malaysia needs to market this hidden jewel to our prospective visitors. The Chow Kit experience is a precious marketing tool for Malaysia.
Bazaar Baru Chow Kit - Getting There:
Buses and taxis are aplenty to bring you here.
Alternatively, the market can also be reached by the KL Monorail easily. You'll get off the monorail at the station "Chow Kit" and you walk back for about 100 metres at the left side of the road
Note: Bazaar Baru Chow Kit opens daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bazaar Baru Chow Kit - Google Maps:
Bazaar Baru Chow Kit - Thing To Do/See:
- Largest wet market in KL (Get the cheapest fruits, veggies & meat)
- Largest Sikh temple in Southeast Asia - Gurdwara Tatt Khalsa Sikh Temple
- Traditional shophouses
Bazaar Baru Chow Kit - Read More:
Bazaar Baru Chow Kit - Slide show:
Bazaar Baru Chow Kit - My YouTube Video:
Video recoded with my hand phone (19th December 2009)