A Historic Visit To Pudu Town - In The Heart of KL

Posted by shloke 14 December 2009
Picture 1: The Pudu Bridge

The pedestrian overhead bridge linking Puduraya to the restaurants across the road. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

"What is so special about Pudu Town?" you might ask. For most people, Pudu is considered one of the busiest town in KL. At night, people fear walking alone in Pudu due to widespread news of street thieves and petty thefts. According to the Malay Mail paper dated 6th July 2009 "NOBODY takes an after-dark stroll down the streets around Jalan Pudu without a heart-pounding fear of being robbed. We can now add another street to this list of unsafe places". Source: Malay Mail

Well, I wanted to see more than that. I asked myself "What does Pudu have in store for Malaysians like me?" So, I started my exploration with a different outlook of Pudu. In Pudu town, we have two historic landmarks:

  1. Puduraya Bus Station
  2. Pudu Jail
  3. Pudu Wet Market (one of the largest in KL)

Each landmark has its own story to tell. I wish to explore the deeper side of these places and find out the latest development.

Picture 2: Puduraya Bus Station

The Puduraya bus station. I was standing in the middle of the road. It was really dangerous. I could get knocked down by traffic from both sides! Glad I took the risk. It's a nice picture. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

The day before the trip, I was having sleepless night. I can’t stop myself from thinking and planning. My big trip is coming up! The next morning, I woke up early. I boarded a Metrobus from Jalan Ipoh to Central Market in Kuala Lumpur (KL). After that, I walked 500 m all the way to Puduraya bus station. I felt safe knowing that our police personnel were making their daily rounds. In addition, RTD officers (Road Transport Department) and traffic police were on duty ensuring smooth traffic flow along Jalan Pudu.

I spent almost one hour finding the best location to snap pictures of Puduraya building. The building is pretty much the same. The exterior of the building was recently given a new coat of paint. According to Wikipedia: The Puduraya station (Malay: Hentian Puduraya) is the main bus station terminus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was opened in 1976 by the late former Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn. Long-distance buses arrive and leave from Puduraya for all over Peninsular Malaysia, and also Thailand and Singapore. Source: Wikipedia

Picture 3: Maybank Tower

The Maybank Tower (Malay: Menara Maybank). Before the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers in 1995, the Maybank Tower was the tallest building in Kuala Lumpur, with a height of 244 metres, nearly half the height of Petronas Twin Towers. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 4 - The Buildings

Spectacular pre-war buildings in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. I was standing at the overhead bridge to capture this shot. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

It was a wonderful morning with blue mackerel sky. I had a great day snapping pictures. Halfway, an express bus driver was honking at me. I looked at him and he gestured back to me. He opened the bus door and asked me to hop in. At first, I was a little hesitant to accept his offer. I do not want to be another kidnap victim. But the driver and his assistant look friendly to me. So, I climbed up the bus. He spoke to me in English.

He asked:
"How much is your camera?"

I answered:
"RM 2 500"

He asked again:
"You from Japan?"

I answered:
"NO! I'm a Malaysian"

He added:
"Your face and spectacle....you really look like Japanese!"

Well, I'm not surprised. This is the fifth time people look at me as a young Japanese traveler. LOL! We had a nice friendly chat. I told him I was finding the best possible location to take my pictures. I showed them the pictures I've taken earlier. The two men exclaimed together "FU-YOH!" That’s a nice start for me! I bid them goodbye and walked into the Puduraya station.

Picture 5: Jalan Pudu

The famous 'Jalan Pudu' (translation: Pudu Road). I started my walking trip from Central Market to Puduraya bus station and all the way to Pudu Jail. A three hours historic trip. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 6: The Vibrant City

Visitors travelling on buses and taxis around KL are bound to pass this busy Jalan Pudu, and thereby, glimpse of Petaling Street, Puduraya and Pudu Jail.

The bus station was busy as usual. Lots of passengers were waiting for their respective buses. I explored the food stalls, mini convenient stores and the departure halls at the basement. Well, Puduraya looks pretty much the same as it was yesterday. The waiting area has been modernized with better lighting, equipped with LCD TV and spacious waiting area. In addition, new orange colored signage were set up to provide basic information about platform, destination and bus number. Really helpful for tourists and first time travelers.

Other than that, I saw the usual 'kutu rayau' (translation: tickets tout) scouting for potential victims. Most of them were carrying walkie talkie. I ignored them. Moments later, I was surrounded by three mean looking 'kutu rayau'. These fellas were asking all sorts of questions about me and my camera. I tried to explain to them that I'm not a reporter. I’m just looking for some photo opportunities for my blog article.

Sadly, things get worse before they get better. Two uniformed guards came and asked me not to take anymore pictures. WHAT A BUMMER! Again, I tried to explain to them...but in vain. At one point, I was a bit scared surrounded with these burly people. So, I decided to walk away. I was truly disappointed.

Picture 7: Pre-War Building

A pre-war building renovated into a backpacker hostel. According to statistics available, the total of pre-war buildings in KL is only 2,500. And even so, the numbers are falling fast. DBKL and FT Ministry need to do more to protect these national heritage! Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 8: Monorial Highway

The Monorial Highway :) I was standing right beneath the tracks. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 9: Swiss Garden Hotel

The 4-Star Swiss Garden Hotel in Jalan Pudu (built in 1993). It is one of the superior hotels in KL boasting a relaxing stay for both business and leisure travellers alike. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

From Puduraya, I walked almost 1 km to Pudu Jail. Along the way, I stumbled upon the unfinished Plaza Rakyat project. WOW! This RM 1.4 billion project has been abandoned for almost 15 years! Unfinished concrete slabs and steel bars are visible from afar. What an eyesore! But, I guess things will get better from now. Our Federal Territories (FT) Minister has taken a proactive approach on this matter. Recently, I stumbled upon Raja Nong Chik's (FT Minster) blog article about this problem. Here is the Q&A between our minister with StarMetro. Source: RNC (YB Raja Nong Chik's Blog)


Picture 10: The Flats

The one and only low cost flats in Jalan Pudu (opposite Swiss Garden Hotel). Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 11: Urban KL

The face of urban KL - a harmonious blend of modern and traditional buildings. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 12: The Gigantic Signboard

A gigantic pedestrian signboard in front of Pudu Jail. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

After that, I saw the one and only full-fledged hospital in Jalan Pudu a.k.a. Tung Shin Hospital. This hospital is previously known as Pooi Shin Thong, was founded in 1881 by Kapitan Cina Yap Kwan Seng, to provide traditional medical care for patients. Initially it was situated at Jalan Sultan, KL. In 1894 it was converted into a non-profit organization and its name was changed to Tung Shin Hospital. The hospital was then shifted to the present address. A bold expansion program for the Western Medical Department was initiated in 1985 and completed in 1989. This 10-storey block with a total built up area of 240,000 square feet has a bed capacity of 250.

Finally, I reached the busiest crossroad in KL. The weekend traffic was getting heavier by the minute. I was walking all the way from Puduraya bus station to Pudu Jail. Initially, I enjoyed this walking trip. But, the volume of traffic and the amount of Carbon Dioxide released from the vehicles were unbearable! Some buses were releasing thick black fumes from the exhaust pipe. OMG! This is no good for our fragile environment. RTD needs to do more - especially conducting spot checks to determine the level of toxic fumes released by our public vehicles. Our PM Najib has been talking a lot about cutting green gashouse gas emissions and greening Malaysia. So please take immediate action before it’s too late!

Picture 13: Tung Shin Hospital

Tung Shin Hospital. This hospital is previously known as Pooi Shin Thong, was founded in 1881 by Kapitan Cina Yap Kwan Seng, to provide traditional medical care for patients. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 14: Plaza Rakyat

The unfinished project of Plaza Rakyat. A 15 years project in the making. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 15: Royal Malaysian Police KL Headquarters

The Royal Malaysian Police Kuala Lumpur Contingent Headquarters (RMP). Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

At the busy crossroad, I saw the faint blue and white building of 'Ibu Pejabat Polis Bukit Aman (translation: The Royal Malaysian Police Kuala Lumpur Contingent Headquarters). Also, I was standing right beneath the KL Monorial tracks. The Pudu station is just 500 m away.

After crossing the busy road, I finally reached Pudu Jail. At first, I walked to the main entrance of the jail. I was hoping to obtain some kind of permission to enter the prison for some exclusive shots. Unfortunately, the big wooden doors were locked. No guard in sight. So, I walked along the famous walls of Pudu Jail. The four walls of Pudu Jail were painted entirely by the prisoners who used over 2000 litre of paint to accomplish the task. The murals entitled the inmates to won a place in the Guinness Book of Records for painting the world's longest mural along the prison walls.

Picture 16: The Wall of Pudu Jail

The chipping and peeling wall of Pudu Jail. Vandalism and lack of preservation has eroded the four walls. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 17: Pudu Jail - Watch Tower 1

A pile of rubble at the back of Pudu Jail. According to NST paper, demolition of parts of Pudu Prison began earlier last month for a road expansion and tunnel project to ease traffic congestion in the area. Once the tunnel road is completed, motorists will be able to bypass the busy crossroads next to the prison. Source: NST Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 18: Pudu Jail - Watch Tower 2

In 1970s, watch towers were built to a vernacular style with jagged edges and pointed roofs called the Minangkabau on the east and west prison walls. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

It was sad. The paintings were peeling and chipping away. In addition, parts of the concrete walls has broken off due to vandalism and lack of preservation. I also saw some strange looking graffiti on the walls. Interestingly, our Pudu Jail is not that big after all. I explored the entire four walls in less than 40 minutes. Also, I saw massive construction machinery at the back of the jail. The entrance is blocked. I guess some kind of renovation works are going on. But I was wrong! The jail is being demolish to make way for a new tunnel and road expansion. WOW! What a waste!

Overall, it was an insightful and memorable trip. This is my very first walking tour from Puduraya to Pudu Jail. I truly enjoyed the entire experience. Savvy travelers from abroad would LOVE to have similar guided trips. This little town in the heart of KL is definitely rich in history and deserves better attention.

Picture 19: Pudu Jail - Watch Tower 3

Graffiti and vandalism. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Picture 20: The Longest Mural

Pudu Jail's unique X-shaped main building hid behind a 384m wall that prominently featured a mural, on display along Jalan Pudu. Picture taken with my Nikon D60 (12th December 2009)

Last updated 21st June 2010 (1:51 a.m.)

Pudu Town - Getting There:

You can get to Pudu by taking the Star LRT to Plaza Rakyat station. It is also within walking distance from KL Chinatown (100 meters).

Pudu Town - Google Maps:


View Larger Map

Pudu Jail (Pudu Prison) - The Demolition Has Begun (YouTube Video):

Staronline.TV visited the last night of the jail

Pudu Town - Things To Do/See:

  1. Puduraya Bus Station
  2. Pudu Jail
  3. Pudu Market

Pudu Town - Read More/Useful Links:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puduraya (Wikipedia Article About Puduraya)
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pudu_Prison (Wikipedia Article About Pudu Jail)
  3. http://tinyurl.com/ydoa4l9 (Download Pudu Jail Conservation Statement)
  4. http://tinyurl.com/y8nl7bb (Pudu Prison makes way for traffic - NST paper article)
  5. http://rajanongchik.com/?p=354 (YB Dato' Raja Nong Chik Q&A About Plaza Rakyat)
  6. http://www.thenutgraph.com/remembering-pudu-jail (Remembering Pudu Jail)
  7. http://tinyurl.com/29fcpky (Pudu jail wall to be demolished Monday, TheStar)

11 comments

  1. Cath J Says:
  2. Beautiful photos...

     
  3. David Jr Says:
  4. hahaha.. "You from Japan?" That was good. anyway, great shots with the D60.

    Regards,
    David
    Malaysia Asia

     
  5. fufu Says:
  6. is yap kwan seng son of yap ah loy? the signboard for the pedestrian is good...but the sidewalks provided for them in the city still gotta be improved

     
  7. shloke Says:
  8. Cath J

    Thanks!

    David

    It's TRUE! Even the street hawkers in Thailand mistaken me for someone else - a traveler from Japan :)

    Thank you!

    fufu

    I'm not sure about that (the two Yaps)

    But, how to improve sidewalk?

    Cheers to all!
    mylo

     
  9. Damn... I don't remember our sky used to be so amazingly blue without any clouds?!

    Guess, it's about time I should go home to have a proper look!

     
  10. shloke Says:
  11. 1ondoncaller

    Usually we get perfect blue sky in KL when the day is DAMN HOT!

    Yep...it's time to 'pulang kampung' and explore Malaysia :)

    Cheers!
    mylo

     
  12. Mark Says:
  13. great work,loved your photography showed so much and best about the place

     
  14. shloke Says:
  15. Mark

    Hi! Welcome to my photo and travel blog.

    Thank you for your kind comments!

    Cheers!
    mylo

     
  16. Ajim Says:
  17. Nice work. You are amazing...

     
  18. Bentoh Says:
  19. Hi the photos are great! And thanks for the capture of last bit of Pudu Jail... :(

    Anyway, Jalan Pudu extends much further down before the road turns into Jalan Cheras. And I think many KL-ites identify "Pudu" as the second half of that road, while the first half is usually associated with "town area", "Puduraya area" and etc. To me the "Pudu" (where the wet market lies), is one of the real heritage area that reflects the old KL (read: Chinese-y KL, not quite 1Malaysia but it is part of the history)... The food, the faces, the buildings and the designs all scream heritage :)

     
  20. shloke Says:
  21. Ajim & Bentoh,

    Hi and welcome to my photo and travel blog! Thanks for your kind words :)

    I've updated my blog with an article about 'Paying My Last Respects to Pudu Jail (Part 1)' Click this link to read my travelogue: http://goo.gl/fb/huqbq

    I agree with you 100%! Pudu wet market is definitely a beautiful heritage. I'm eager to return to this place.

    Cheers to all!

     
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shloke
Traveling & photography are the most rewarding & enriching experiences in my life. Photography is all about discovery, enjoying myself, having adventure, learning people & nature. The greatest experience for me is the connection I felt with NATURE. If you haven’t seen Malaysia, you haven’t seen the world! My photography works are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.
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