Walk through Malaysian heritage

THERE’S something special for tourists who want to know more about Kuala Lumpur.

A guided tour to regale you about the history of some of KL’s streets and buildings is what one can participate in to appreciate the city’s history.

The tour, dubbed the Malaysia Heritage Walk is conducted by a group who call themselves Be Tourist. It is free, starting from the meeting point of Central Market’s main entrance at 10.30am every day.

StarMetro had a chance to join in the walk under the guidance of Be Tourist founder Erina Loo, who has been a tourist guide for years.

She said the heritage walk started last October, and was being conducted every day.

“It’s our commitment to the public and also to Central Market whose management has helped us a lot to promote our guided walk,” said Loo, 39.

“Initially, we thought we will conduct the walk only for three months. But now it has been extended for a longer period until further notice.

“I just hope that more locals can participate actively by becoming volunteers to help create awareness and look into this form of tourism that does not always have to be a money-making venture,” she said.

Loo said the idea for this walk came about because many tourists don’t know the real history of Kuala Lumpur.

“It’s a short two-hour or so trail where we show them the early immigrants to KL from a few structures still standing, the development of the city from the early days during Kapitan Yap Ah Loy’s time to what it is now, and also living heritage like the small lanes and stalls that have survived for more than 50 years,” said Loo.

From Central Market itself, the walk took us past historical landmarks like Masjid Jamek to appreciate its Islamic architecture and Moghul and Moorish designs, Lebuh Ampang which was originally made famous by the Chettiar community from South India after they established money-lending establishments along this road, Jalan Tun H.S.Lee previously known as High Street with some of the oldest shophouses around, the Lebuh Pasar Besar or Old Market Square where Yap Ah Loy used to run his opium and gambling dens, and Jalan Hang Kasturi where the row of shophouses known for selling dried seafood and Chinese herbs, are left with just one or two today dealing in the same trade.

Loo said the walk is called the Malaysia Heritage Walk because the trail takes visitors through the history of the three main race pillars in Malaysia based on the different locations.

She has also identified her own 1Malaysia lane, an inconspicuous lane called Lorong Bandar 1 that is sandwiched between Lebuh Ampang and Jalan Tun H.S.Lee.

Step into this alley and one will be greeted by a Chinese fruit stall, followed by a Malay stall selling economy mix rice, and lastly an Indian mee-goreng stall, all of which are next to each other.

Loo said that while there are still old, original shophouses to be seen, a lot however, have been since sold and rebuilt with new, additional buildings on top of it.

“If preservation of these old buildings are not carried on, I’m afraid that I may not have any ‘live’ teaching tools left to show visitors in future,” said Loo. For visitors in a big group, it is advisable to make bookings in advance to ensure there are enough volunteer guides for that particular day. Call 012-208 4260 or 017-989 1031.

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