LoyarBurok organised a walking tour of KL on 17 July 2011. The tour was led by writer Kam Raslan. Kam was very kind not to charge anything for his trouble.
Starting the tour at the back for the Sultan Abdul Samad building in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Kam enthralled the group with tales of how the building came to be. Built by the British to establish their control over Malaya, the architecture gave the impression of power and strength.
Kam explained that the British were few in number and used such tactics (including, in Kam’s own words, “smoke and mirrors”) to keep the people in check. The site of the building had long been used as a trading and commercial route by people. Kapitans and other strongmen charged money to anyone disembarking at their checkpoints. In the old days, people used the Gombak River and Klang River behind the Sultan Abdul Samad building as their channel for travelling. This very large and impressive looking building was completed in 1897 and must have been an awesome sight to the locals.
One of my favourite buildings in KL, Masjid Jamek, is located on the opposite side of the river behind the Sultan Abdul Samad building. The mosque was built by the British for the local Muslims. Originally the site of a graveyard, the graves were moved and the mosque, designed by a British, was built in 1909. There are some curious steps leading from the mosque to a small bit of grassland overlooking the river. Kam explained that the level of the river used to be much higher and the steps were where people travelling by river would arrive at for their Friday prayers.
Then, Kam led us to the corner of the Sultan Abdul Samad building. From this point, a person had a clear view of the building, the mosque and Bukit Aman. As the British were few in number, they built their police headquarters at this hill with a vantage point. Today, the Polis Di Raja Malaysia have taken over the building as their headquarters. Kam told the group that the British used to sound a very large gun every hour to help tell time while giving the impression that they had powerful artillery.
The tour ended at a Chinese temple built by the famous Chinese Kapitan, Kapitan Yap Ah Loy. Nestled between the buildings of Jalan Pudu, this beautiful temple is an isolated part of history. Kam told us the story of how Yap Ah Loy offered a silver coin to anyone who could bring him the head of his enemies. This soon ended when he realised people were bringing back the same heads to claim their silver coins!
The tour ended with lunch at the nasi kandar at The Annexe.