Tourist in My Own City Part 2

This part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, click here.

After a rather slow and relaxing first day, today we’re up early for breakfast. We’re joining a free heritage walking tour, so we have to be at the meeting point by 9am. Breakfast was coffee and ramen from the Korean supermarket (cos we are seriously not going to spend RM49++ for the hotel buffet breakfast). Mine was beef noodles, the other one was spicy something. Can’t remember what specific flavour, the spicy probably killed my tastebuds to taste anything else.

(ramen breakfast)

Something about the Heritage guided tour we joined. I learnt about it from an acquaintance of mine, who runs the Klang heritage walk. Every day of the week there is a different tour around the city, led by volunteer tour guides and supported by the Tourism Board and City Hall. Today we are joining the Dataran Merdeka Heritage trail, which explores the history of KL from its founding by the Chinese miners up until Independence. It is two and a half hours and covers various buildings and sites around the Sultan Abdul Samad building.

And most important of all, it is FREE.

This is Deanna, our tour guide for the day. She is very knowledgeable and eloquent and we really enjoyed the entire tour.

She also mentioned to me that local Malaysians who join these tours are ‘very rare’. I guess probably it isn’t well publicized, except on tourism websites and Tripadvisor, which locals don’t really look at. You can find more info on these tours here.

The tour starts and ends in KL City Gallery, which is an interesting historical attraction by itself. It used to be a printing office 100 years ago during the British administration, now it is a historical gallery run by a local modelmaker who specializes heritage building and commercial models for property developers (an ex-colleague of mine used to work here).

This is their master craftsman. Every time a tour group passes he has to wave and smile. He’s probably gritting his teeth and cursing that he isn’t paid enough to be treated like a zoo display…

But the KL City Gallery is really interesting, especially if you are interested in models. They have many large pieces including a very interesting ‘running’ model (try it) and a AV show using the largest model of KL city in the world. Probably. You can visit it anytime but there is an entrance fee.

(sadly the model doesn’t extend until my house…)

After that we move outdoors to Dataran Merdeka. And this is where the tour gets really interesting. Deanna really has lots of anecdotes that are funny and insightful, including stories about the British officers’ horses and the fountain, the great floods, and drying wet money on the padang.

(The former Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China. The right wing was demolished to make way for traffic)

After that we got to enter the illustrious Sultan Abdul Samad building. It is now closed to public unless you have special clearance.

From there we moved on to the National Textile Museum (not so interesting, but it was an opportunity to talk about the history of Malacca Sultanate era). Then we went into St Mary’s Cathedral, seat of the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia. And also the church that Queen Elizabeth visited in 1989. And also where my cousin was married in a few years back. I thought I knew the history of St Mary’s pretty well, but Deanna had a few interesting anecdotes to tell!

Last stop on the tour was Royal Selangor Club. Understandably while it is steeped in history, it is already a very old and small club, paling in comparison to the new golf and country clubs we are used to today.

Non-members are strictly forbidden to enter the club, but we were given a special (big) sticker that allowed us temporary access.

The most interesting thing is this ‘spotted dog’, or formerly known as the Long Bar, the only place where women and children are still barred from entering.

The walls of the bar are filled with photos, mostly group shots of dinners and cricket teams of years past. I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone here.

Next – Lunch.

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