Some favourite haunting grounds are still standing strong like our school and Central Market, while some are done and dusted like Rex Theatre
by HAZATUL SYIMA HARON
ONE of the many things I love about travelling the world is the architecture of my destination.
For me, India for example is all about the romanticism of past dynasties and their majestic palaces; Bali’s most arresting features are a mixture of the spiritual, mystical and functional; while Sydney is not characterised by any one style, but by an extensive juxtaposition of the old and new.
But the advent of Covid-19 has forced everyone to stay grounded and at home. Its dangers force me to prioritise my health, which sees me walking several times a week at various favourite green spots (that are currently less crowded).
Last weekend though, my bestie Nor Shahrizah Mohd Zawawi suggested taking a stroll around the heart of our capital city of Kuala Lumpur (KL). Our walk took us back to some of our old, favourite haunting grounds during our schooling years.
Some are still standing, our alma mater SMK Convent Bukit Nanas for one keeps churning out young inquisitive female minds, while Kotaraya remains somewhat the same though the facade and retail mix are refreshed. Others have changed, such as the Sinar Kota building that used to house Metrojaya is now home to Mydin Supermarket.
Some of the establishments that used to be our favourite haunts though no longer exist — the McDonalds on Jalan Silang (Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin) is now closed (I heard due to Covid-19 pandemic restructuring), while the Rex Theatre on Jalan Sultan, which was famous among youngsters back then, looks haunted as it is abandoned.
While we hardly spent time at Petaling Street as many shops were closed (again, Covid-19), we did manage to visit my favourite bakery since school days — Kafe Happy Meal on Jalan Tun HS Lee.
My personal favourite is the cranberry poppy seed butter cake, but I’ve bought their durian butter cake before for family and friends who loved the buttery soft, yet moist texture. Their signature durian puffs are also quite good and best of all, the prices are affordable.
I also made a point of stopping and smelling the lilies at my, again, favourite flower shop — Weng Hoa Flower Boutique — just steps away from the bakery.
Alas, not wanting to carry anything much (besides the cakes), I didn’t get my lilies.
My old stomping ground of Central Market, the place where I got my fix of secondhand books, is still standing. It now boasts the covered, open-air Kasturi Walk running alongside, where booths selling knick-knacks and souvenirs popular with tourists were flourishing before the advent of the pandemic.
Something new, the River of Life boasts of a few beautiful murals along the Klang River. We saw many cyclists making a pit stop near Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Mosque during our walkabout to take pictures in groups and solo. We did too, which I shall not share here (but it may be on social media somewhere).
The oldest mosque in the city stands at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang Rivers, on the spot where the city was founded in 1857. The River of Life project has turned it into a favourite spot for selfies and as such, do expect to have to wait your turn while others take pictures.
I spent some minutes posing in front of an intricate mural covering an entire building. My favourite really of the lot.
It showcases three men near a river surrounded by flora and one of them is trying to catch a fish. Even the door, the air-conditioners and the stairs were painted to be part of the drawing.
One of KL’s most treasured heritage buildings, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, is still majestic and very well taken care of by our government. Parts of Dataran Merdeka though is currently undergoing upgrading and restoration works.
After clocking almost 7km on the walk, we returned to our car next to the Royal Selangor Club, one of Asia’s oldest sporting institutions. Sporting Tudor-style architecture, it had started out as a tiny wooden building with an “attap” roof.
Hopefully, while the city gets modernised and beautified further, we will strive to preserve and appreciate those landmarks that dot our capital city’s history and my own.