While we think we know a lot about the three cities of the Federal Territories, there are still some little-known stories that may surprise you.
1) The field of money
The Klang River banks burst after a downpour in 1926 and turned Dataran Merdeka (known as the Selangor Field then) into a huge muddy pool. Water seeped into the Chartered Bank underground vault where millions of dollars were kept. When the water subsided, currency notes were put across the field to be dried under tight security, making the Selangor field the “richest field” in the world for that short period of time. According to the Chartered Bank’s account of the event, not a single note was lost. During the floods, a tiger was also seen swimming down the Klang River and that was probably the last time a tiger was spotted in the heart of the city.
2) English sermons at mosque
Located within the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre park, the Asy-Syarikin Mosque is the only mosque in Kuala Lumpur that conducts sermons in English.
It was also graced by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Catherine Middleton in September 2012.
3) The lost stained glass
The original stained glass windows above the chancel of Cathedral of St Mary The Virgin had been removed and buried to protect them from the impending World War II.
However, the buried pieces were never found and the stained glass on the windows today is a reproduction of the original.
Queen Elizabeth II visited the church twice, in October 1989 during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and then nine years later when Kuala Lumpur hosted the 16th Commonwealth Games in 1998.
4) The street with two names
Petaling Street was one of the first few roads in Kuala Lumpur to be named, and it was widely thought that it took the name of the Petaling tin-mining area where it led to. The Chinese, on the other hand, called it “Chee Cheong Kai” which means Tapioca Mill Street in Cantonese. This is because Yap Ah Loy, the third Kapitan China of Kuala Lumpur had built numerous tapioca mills around the street. He hired an English engineer to run the mills. Herein lies the second theory that the nickname was from the very loud and repetitive “chee-cheong” noise made by the eight horsepower engines at the mills.
5) Fish, Currie and Rice, anyone?
It was often sardonically said that inmates at Pudu Jail enjoyed the luxury of being served a rather sumptuous platter of fish, curry and rice. What is a fact is that in the early days, the prison had three European wardens whose surnames were Fish, Currie and Rice.
6) Run, Harriers, run
The popular running group Hash House Harriers (HHH) that is so British in character was actually born in Malaya, and more precisely, at Selangor Club. HHH is a race that follows a paper trail laid by a “hare,” often deliberately leading the runners astray. The idea of the race was thought up one evening in 1938 by the club patrons and the race was named after the Hash House, one of the dining rooms in the club.
7) Thrilling challenge
Extreme sports fans can get their adrenaline fix at Putrajaya Challenge Park where they can try rock climbing, skating and mountain biking. The outdoor Skate Park has a bowl-shaped sliding arena while the Mountain Bike Trail offers customised terrain spanning 9.1km of former rubber and palm oil estates.
8) The bridges of Putrajaya
Many recognise the Seri Wawasan Bridge because of its distinctive futuristic design that resembles a sailing ship. There are eight bridges in Putrajaya and some are modelled after famous bridges from around the world. Putra Bridge was inspired by the famous Khaju Bridge in Isfahan, Iran; the Seri Saujana Bridge was inspired by the Sydney Harbour Bridge with its curved arches; and the Seri Gemilang was modelled after the Ponte Alexandre III bridge in Paris.
9) The floating village
The whole water village, Kampung Air Patau Patau 2 in Labuan was once wiped out by a Japanese bomb during the Second World War. Villagers rebuilt it after the war and now it has been turned into a homestay. Some of the structures are more than 60 years old.
10) Horse whisperer and other things
Built over 28ha in Precinct 5, the Putrajaya Equestrian Park sits on the edge of a hilltop offering lush green views. The place offers riding lessons while animal lovers can join organised stable tours to get a close-up look at the 90 horses here. Fun packages such as the Joy Ride are available from RM10 per ride. Couples can have a candlelight dinner at the park’s in-house cafe overlooking the greenery.
■ Sources: Kuala Lumpur Tourist Guidebook, Putrajaya Corporation and Labuan Corporation.