Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chinatown


Like various other world cities, Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia is also made up of various lively neighborhoods. Located at the heart of  Kuala Lumpur, is one of its busiest neighborhoods, the colorful, always buzzing Chinatown or Petaling Street, locally referred to as ‘'Chee Cheong Kai' (Starch Factory Street), for the neighborhood once housed a tapioca mill.
KL’s Chinatown is one of its most popular neighborhoods for it is reputed to be a locale for much bargain shopping. Petaling Street is populated with hordes of vendors who sell all sorts of goods like ‘designer’ apparel, watches, sunglasses, accessories, jewelry, handbags, shoes, Chinese medicines, CDs and other small electronics. Also located on Petaling street are various hawker stalls that offer some of KL’s famous street foods like Yong Tau Foo, Claypot chicken rice, grilled fish and Char Kuay Teow. So if you need a respite from shopping up a storm on Petaling Street, you can always stop at one of these hawker food stalls to refuel.
 Aside from Petaling Street, KL Chinatown also hosts various other shopping haunts like the Central Market (Pasar Seni) which is housed in a cavernous, covered art-deco style edifice that hosts several small stores and boutiques. The stores located within Central Market offer authentic handicrafts and eats that hail from all over Malaysia. Located alongside the Central Market on Jalan Kasturi, is yet another shopping spot- Kasturi Walk, a kind of open-air flea market which is populated by vendors of replica handbags, watches, footwear and apparel. The prices at Kasturi Walk are not as competitive as Petaling Street, though bargaining is an accepted norm here as well. If you have a penchant for cheap and cheerful shopping, Chinatown in KL is the way to go.
Aside from shopping, the area offers various opportunities for sight-seeing as well for located here are some gorgeous Chinese and Hindu temples that provide a glimpse into the multicultural fabric of Kuala Lumpur. The various religious attractions of Chinatown include:-
Chinese Temples
The Chan See Shu Yuen Temple which is located on the southern end of Petaling Street is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist temples in Malaysia. This elaborate temple is an exponent of traditional Chinese temple design and features an open courtyard and symmetrical pavilions. The Chan See Shu Yuen Temple was built between 1897 and 1907 and is adorned with beautiful woodcarvings and ceramic fixtures. Other prominent Chinese temples located in the area include the Kuan Ti Temple, an ancient Taoist temple dedicated to Guandi, the Taoist God of War and Literature which is located on Jalan Tun HS Lee and the Kuan Yin Temple (Guanyin Temple) which dates back to 1880 and is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin.
Indian Temples
In the midst of all this Chinese heritage and architecture lies the incongruous attraction of the extravagantly adorned Indian Sri Mahamariamman Temple. Built in the style of most Southern Indian temples and topped by a colorful, deity-laden gopuram, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the main Hindu temple in KL.  This place of worship was built by Tamil immigrants who arrived in Malaya in the late 19th century to work as contract workers on plantations and in construction companies. The tranquil interior of the temple presents stark contrast to its perennially bustling surroundings as it offers an ambience that features the soft glow of oil lamps and air that is fragranced by the scent of joss sticks and fresh flowers.
Dining
No shopping expedition can be complete without a bite to eat and luckily for enthusiastic bargain shoppers, Chinatown is teeming with hawker-stalls and great restaurants including some of the best family-run restaurants in Kuala Lumpur city like Yook Woo Hin. Most of these myriad eateries stay open until the wee hours of the morning and offer a wide array of Chinese  delicacies including the famous  ‘daging salai’ or smoked meat.






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