from “Eat to the Beat”, Blondie, 1979.
Once part of the British Empire, Malaysia gained its independence in 1957. However, many buildings and other architectural elements from that period still abound in Kuala Lumpur, and on a sunny morning we went for a look around some of the more well known historical locations in and around the area of Merdeka Square.
We arrived at the nearest metro station of Masjid Jamek and went looking first for the Moorish-style central mosque. But getting out of the station at the right exit point proved to be trickier than we thought as Kuala Lumpur’s mass transit line interchanges are not always as close as you think or as well connected for switching lines.
There was also a lot of area redevelopment work going on so we had to make our way through the clock square to get around and find the mosque.
However, as it turned out parts of the mosque were also being redeveloped and additionally there was some kind of event going on and so there was no admittance that day to the poor tourists who had made their way along to see the mosque. In the end we really only got to see the mosque from further away as we headed towards Merdeka Square.
Fortunately we weren’t too turned around after our vain attempts to find and access the mosque, and so with trusty GPS mapping in hand we found our way to Merdeka Square.
It was in Merdeka Square that the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag raised for the first time on 31 August 1957 when Malaysia gained its independence. The flag pole is one of the tallest in the world, reaching some 95 metres high.
Surrounding the square are several buildings of historical interest and the most eye-catching of these is Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad. The building originally housed the offices of the British colonial administration, and was known simply as the Government Offices. It was later renamed after Sultan Abdul Samad, the reigning sultan of Selangor at the time when construction of the building began.
On the north side of the square, where the funky flower-headed lampposts live, is St. Mary’s Cathedral, an Anglican church dating from 1894. We decided to head inside for a look around and a chance to get out of the heat for a little while.
On the opposite side of the square from the cathedral is the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, easily spotted by the “I Love KL” statue along with the queue of tourists all seeking that must-have selfie with it. Opting for the “I Love KL” sans International Vagabonds picture, we then went inside to look around and see what the City Gallery was about.
The Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is essentially the main tourist office for the city, and comprises an information centre, a large gift shop and café, as well as a couple of small galleries on the history of the city.
However, the main point of interest is the scale model of Kuala Lumpur which is used in an audio-visual display to highlight aspects of the city: past, present, and future. The model is really very large, approximately 12 metres by 15 metres in size and the show was great to watch although with its fast pace and with so much going on over such a large area it wasn’t easy to catch everything to be seen.
With the ticket price for the city model show just RM5 and redeemable in the café it was time for a well earned sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake and make some plans for further adventures in the remaining couple of days of our time in Kuala Lumpur.