During school holidays, I followed my dad to KL Chinatown. It was the best time of my life. I remember playing 'cops and robbers' with my cousins at the Chinatown alleys (also known as Lorong Bandar). I also contributed my little manpower to help out my pop. My dad handles all his customers with equal respect and treatment. I see that in almost all traders. I still remember his words of wisdom - "A man needs to be respectful, courteous and helpful in order to succeed". I'm still living to that slogan. It's like a mantra to me :)
Well, that was decades ago. It's been a long time since I visited KL Chinatown. Currently, I'm working in a private firm. I met some great expatriate colleagues in my company. Lately, I had a great time chatting with them (during one of my company function). The Aussie girls just returned from a half day trip to KL Chinatown. They were showing off their 'branded' ladies bags and 'jeweled' watch purchased from Petaling Street. I'm happy to say that our visitors truly enjoyed their unique shopping experience. But then again, they were upset and intimidated with sleazy tactics used by certain traders.
Clockwise: a) The famous Sze Ngan Chye roast duck stall - featured in 8TV HO CHAK! b) Lovely oranges & c) My all time favourite - wax duck. Pictures taken with my Nikon D60.
I was disturbed by their negative comments. So, I decided to revisit KL Chinatown and discover the truth myself - the good, the bad and the ugly. When I first arrived, I was surprised to see a huge makeover in KL Chinatown. Kudos to Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (translation: KL City Hall) and KL Hawkers & Petty Traders Association. The two organizations had work closely to build two wonderful Chinese arches. According to Wikipedia, the road to Chinatown underwent a major RM11.3 million face lift with two large Chinese arches placed at both ends of the street to welcome visitors. Source: Wikipedia
In addition, the entire Chinatown was covered with 'Green Dragon' roofs. On my latest trip, I saw contract workers replacing the old roofs with brand new stretch of blue roofing. Simply refreshing and inviting! Thank you DBKL! Thank you KL Hawkers & Petty Association!
It was a Saturday morning (28/11/09). But, KL Chinatown was packed like sardines. I spent nearly three hours exploring the entire place - including the century old wet market and famous food stalls - mostly endorsed by 8TV HO CHAK show.
Clockwise: a) Chestnuts roasted with hot sand, b) Children's bags & c) 'Branded' caps. Pictures taken with my Nikon D60
Let me start with the shopping experience in KL Chinatown. Overall, the traders are approachable and willing to bargain for a good price. Bargain hunters (local and tourist) can be seen haggling at many of the stalls. As usual, the luxury goods on display are mostly bootleg items imported from Thailand or China. You can get a Prada or LV bag below RM50! But do not underestimate these products. I managed to scrutinize the quality of the materials. Well, the quality is not bad - its durable and usable for a long time.
Word of advice, bring a local friend who is accustomed with the ways of Petaling Street to help you with your shopping. Some traders tend to swindle unsuspecting tourists, foreigners and even locals.
For the last ten years, locals and foreigners were complaining about being harassed and shortchanged by these sellers. It was BAD PUBLICITY for Malaysians. I've read countless news articles and complains in travel forums. WHAT A SHAME! It has portrayed a negative attitude towards KL, crafting a damaging impression on us.
Overall, the traders are trying their best to improve the shoppers' experience. I do not see any verbal abuse or cursing during my three hour trip. But then again, I had a horrible time trying to get some up close and personal shots. The traders were VERY SENSITIVE upon seeing my Nikon D60 camera. They do not want me to publish pictures of their so-called branded items. Luckily, I managed to get some pictures for this article...discreetly :)
Clockwise: a) A happy tourist, b) The fish section & c) Butchers in A.C.T.I.O.N. Pictures taken with my Nikon D60. Location: Chinatown Market.
Halfway exploring Chinatown, I stumbled upon the one and only traditional wet market in KL. It is a small market hidden right behind a pork stall. The market really brings back good old memories. I remember playing hide and seek with my brothers in the market. Surprisingly, this market is still the same. Check out my YouTube video below for an overview of the market.
My YouTube Video - Petaling Street Traditional Wet Market
It's a beautiful market hidden in Chinatown. KL-lites living in Chinatown still patronize this traditional market to get their veggies and meat. I snapped loads of pictures and also recorded a short video with my Nokia hand phone. Along the way. I bumped into an elderly veggie seller. He was sleeping with his eyes half open. I remember him but I forgotten his proper name. I used to call him 'suk suk' (uncle). I introduced myself to him but he was still in a daze. I tried to refresh his memories. But, he has no idea at all. It was like talking to a total stranger.
After that, I visited the famous food stalls in KL Chinatown. The stalls can be found towards the centre of the street. Remember to taste local Chinese delights such as Hokkien mee, BBQ sting ray, Assam Laksa and many more. Most of these stalls have been in operation for decades. Again, it was packed like sardine! I ordered myself a big bowl of Assam Laksa. It has generous portion of fish meat and served with thick YUMMYLICIOUS sweet and sour gravy. Beside that, you can savor curry noodles and the famous Yong Tau Foo.
Clockwise: a) The famous 'Air Mata Kucing' (Longan drink) - also endorsed by 8TV HO CHAK! b) Piping hot yong tau foo & c) Wonderful ingredients in Assam Laksa (sour fish-based soup). Pictures taken with my Nikon D60.
Overall, KL Chinatown is still a preferred destination for local and foreign visitors. It is a great place for shoppers seeking 'exclusive' products with knockdown price. Nonetheless, the traders still need to improve their PR (Public Relation) skills to make our KL Chinatown a perfect shopping experience for global shoppers. As usual, good news spread by word of mouth.
KL Chinatown (Petaling Street) - Contact Details:
For more information, please contact:
Kuala Lumpur Tourist Office
Tel: +603-2615 8188
Tourism Infoline : 1-300-88-5776
KL Chinatown (Petaling Street) - Getting There:
By Foot or Taxi
Petaling Street is opposite the Kotaraya Shopping Complex and Central Market.
The Pasar Seni station on the PUTRA LRT down the street from the beginning of Petaling Street.
KL Chinatown (Petaling Street) - Google Maps:
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KL Chinatown (Petaling Street) - Things To Do/See:
Taste great food:
- Hokkien mee
- Ikan bakar (barbecued fish)
- Asam laksa
- Curry noodles
- Yong tau foo
- Electronic items
KL Chinatown (Petaling Street) - Read More/Useful Links: