Category Archives: WP Kuala Lumpur

The Royal Museum, Kuala Lumpur


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The Royal Museum, formerly the Istana Negara, the official residence of Their Majesties The King and Queen of Malaysia. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


The Royal Museum, formerly known as the Istana Negara (National Palace), is located along Jalan Istana in Kuala Lumpur and was the official residence of Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Malaysia.

My wife and I had made plans to visit the Royal Museum in the past but always had to defer them (despite it being nearby in Kuala Lumpur), for one reason or another, with the main culprit being yours truly.

Well, the day of reckoning had to come, and since I nor my wife had nothing of importance on our respective and combined plates for the day, we placed ourselves into our trusty ‘old car’ and made our way to the Royal Museum.


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The main gates of the Royal Museum. When the Royal Museum was the Istana Negara, media personnel would mill nearby the main gates whenever an important announcement requiring His Majesty’s consent and approval eg the dissolution of Parliament, the appointment of a new government, amongst others, is expected. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


We got to the Royal Museum in good time, thanks to the good highway connectivity linking Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur.

Personally, I have never been to the then Istana Negara and now the Royal Museum. So this visit is of great significance to me for it presented me with the first opportunity to step foot within its grounds.

But not so for my wife. She had been here before so many years ago, when it was known as the Istana Negara, at a tender age of seven.


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The 7th DYMM SPB Yang Di Pertuan Agong, His Majesty The King and Supreme Head of State of Malaysia, Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah of Pahang. (image sourced from wikipedia)


As it happens, my late father-in-law was a member of the protection detail assigned to the 7th DYMM SPB Yang Di Pertuan Agong, as His Majesty The King is officially known, with my late father-in-law essentially based at the then Istana Negara.

So where else would a little girl look for her father if not at his place of work. Being seven years old does have its advantages, I dare say,  and one of them is being looked at as not a security threat but rather, one to be ‘pampered’.

But I digress. As usual.


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Welcome to the Royal Museum (side entrance). (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


We paid the entrance fee at the entrance gates and finally, at long last, for me at least, stepped onto the grounds of what used to be the Istana Negara and as we make our entrance, the sight of the two yellow domes greeted us from atop the hill.

A driveway, lined with tall palm trees, up what looked like a ‘slight’ incline led us to the Royal Museum. As we made our way up the driveway, under the shades offered by the palm trees naturally, we passed by the spacious grounds of the Royal Museum to our right, where garden tea parties were held during the occasion of His Majesty’s The King’s birthday.


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The driveway from the main gates leading to the yellow-domed Royal Museum. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


We have heard many stories about the garden tea parties. Attended by members of the Royalty, the whose who of Malaysian politics, invited dignitaries and of course, the newly minted Tuns, Tan Sris and Datuks, bestowed by the King with Federal awards and honours on the auspicious day, the atmosphere must have been really something.

It would be nice to have the opportunity to attend such a garden party. Maybe one day, if such an opportunity arises.


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The spacious open fields of the Royal Museum, to the right of the driveway. (nachmeinemeinung; @ all rights reserved)


But garden tea parties were not the only events held there. Another memorable event and one that was eagerly awaited by all and sundry was the annual ‘Hari Raya Aidil Fitri Open House’, held in conjunction with what is known world-wide as the Eid celebrations.

In Malaysia, it is customary for parents, during the Eid celebrations, to give their children money packets, the quantum of which is never as important as the act of giving it itself.

But a money packet from His Majesty The King is of great significance, especially to the young ones. It is therefore understandable that, during these ‘Open Houses’, to witness long queues of children waiting in line for their turn to shake His Majesty’s hand and receive a money packet from His Majesty.


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The courtyard of the Royal Museum. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


Kids being kids, some will say that to receive two money packets from His Majesty, is better than one. And in pursuit, they would queue back in line for a second handshake from His Majesty, including one seven-year old whom I shall not dare to mention.

Not that His Majesty did not notice but then again, its ‘Hari Raya Aidil Fitri’, a joyous occasion and one for celebration.

All these memories come flooding back for my wife as she narrated her mischievous Istana Negara adventures and soon, without realising it, we realised that we had reached the top of the incline, to be greeted by the sight of a spacious courtyard.

Pausing at the courtyard, we took in the view and at the same time, caught our collective breaths.

It may be ‘slight’ incline, but it is not to be scoffed at, especially when your physical fitness is highly questionable.


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A reminder of the etiquette to be observed. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


Upon entering the Royal Museum, we were greeted with a signboard outlining the etiquette to be observed, one of which is ‘No Photography’.

Unfortunate but understandable.

The Royal Museum was after all, the official residence of Their Majesties, The King and Queen of Malaysia. There is dignity and prestige attached to the place and protocol is never far away.

I mean, if a 1000-year old horse exhibit cannot remain safe from the army of camera holding hordes, despite the many signboards reminding to the contrary, what more a building built-in the early part of the last century. Or a 2,000 year old terracotta thumb, for that matter.


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Amongst the flora gracing the courtyard. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


Not that visitors to the Royal Museum are at all disrespectful. But there is always the exception to the rule.

I must admit, it was rather exciting to be walking along the very same corridors as did past Heads of State. There is a certain buzz to it, which could be attributed to the fact that these are not ordinary men.

Royalty, political leaders, community leaders, diplomats etc etc. They are still human but for the weight of responsibility, the authority and the power and the influence they wield, and the privileged lives they live.

All heady stuff, I must admit. Quite seductive too. After all, they did say that power is a powerful aphrodisiac, if not the ultimate.

The Royal Museum began life as a rich man’s mansion. Built in 1928 and originally called the ‘Big House’, it was owned by a local Chinese millionaire, Chan Wing.

Bearing in mind that this was in 1928, Chan Wing must have been pretty rich by today’s standards, never mind 1928’s.


Chan Wing (1933). Taken from the book “From Poor Migrant to Millionaire” by Chan King Nui


During the Japanese occupation from 1942-1945, during World War II, the mansion was converted into the official residence of the Japanese governor.

The military connection continued after the defeat of the Japanese Imperial forces, when British Military Administration (BMA) used the mansion as a senior military commanders’ mess.

Brigadier and above only, Old Chap.

With the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1950, the Selangor state government rented the mansion, and renovated it for the use of His Majesty The Sultan of Selangor.

Prior to Independence in 1957, the owners of the mansion (and the 13 acres of land upon which the mansion sits) sold the property to the Federal government for a tidy sum of 1.4 Million Straits Dollars, who then converted the mansion into the Istana Negara, the official residence of His Majesty The King, the Supreme Head of State of (the then) Malaya.

How much is 1.4 Million Straits Dollars in today’s currency, I have absolutely no idea. But I dare say, it must be quite a princely sum and even that may be a gross understatement.

And how much is it worth today? One can only venture a guess but it must be very costly.


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Gazebos on the peripheral of the Royal Museum, providing a much needed shade from the hot sun, as well as a place to rest. (nachmeinemeinung ; @ all rights reserved)


The visit to the Royal Museum, for me, was quite educational whilst for my wife, emotionally uplifting as she re-lived some of her fondest childhood memories of the former Istana Negara.

However, being the royal residence of His Majesties the 1st thru to the 13th Kings of the country, it would have thought that the Royal  Museum had more to offer to the visiting public.

After all, with all the history connected to what was the Istana Negara, it is without doubt a building of national and historical importance.

That by itself makes a visit to the Royal Museum an educational one and as far as education goes, it’s never a wasted trip.


Date : 6 March 2018



Pasar Seni Kuala Lumpur

The Pasar Seni Station. Get off at this station to go to Pasar Seni. (@ all rights reserved)

Should one wants to go to Pasar Seni but is shy to ask for directions, just have a look at the Prasarana public transportation network for the Klang Valley, and you will find a station called Pasar Seni.

Not to complicate things, it is the next station after main station of KL Sentral.

And when you disembarked at the Pasar Seni station, located less than hundred (100) metres away is Pasar Seni itself, the tourist attraction that lends its name to the station.

The main entrance of the Pasar Seni or as it was known back then, Central Market. (@ all rights reserved)

Pasar Seni is loosely translated as (The) Cultural Market and first came into being as Central Market, back in 1888.

It houses outlets offering the best of local batik (printed and hand drawn), songket, local themed souvenirs, trinkets, and even jewellery and pearls.

But do not be surprised that Pasar Seni also houses second-hand book stores, traditional medicine outlets, mini galleries, as well as the usual complement of eateries.

The plaque tells the story. (@ all rights reserved)

But before Pasar Seni became Pasar Seni the Cultural Market, Pasar Seni was known as Central Market, the Wet Market.

An interesting and unique story in itself, one that the younger generation may have read about but did not have the opportunity to experience.

Central Market, as Pasar Seni was known then, was a wet market located in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Inside Pasar Seni (@ all rights reserved)

Housewives and restaurant owners would often head there very early in the morning, in order to get or place orders for their daily or weekly supply of vegetables, fish, fresh meat and poultry, from the many and different stalls available at the Central Market.

Surprising? I mean, who would have thought that that would be the case, considering the volume of traffic in the areas surrounding today.

Browsing for favourite titles at the second-hand book store. (@ all rights reserved)

It is a fact that Kuala Lumpur has always been busy. It has never been known to sleep, even back then. But it was not as busy as it is today.

Back then people would still be able to take the bus and get off at the Old Klang Bus Terminal nearby before making their way to the Central Market for their daily shopping.

The saying that the early bird catches the best worm really applies as the early morning shoppers would get the best of whats on offer.

Merchandise for sale. (@ all rights reserved)

Business would start very early in the morning, so early that even the sun has yet to make its appearance on the horizon.

Suppliers and transporters from far and wide would park their lorries by the side of the Central Market to drop off their shipment of vegetables, fish, poultry, all fresh as they can be, whilst the stall owners make preparations for the start of the day’s business.

Potholes would litter the roads around the Central Market, despite it being filled as fast the then municipal council could possibly manage.

For convenience sake. (@ all rights reserved)

These shallow potholes would normally be filled with water most of the time, from the many shipments of fish and vegetables to the Central Market.

The Central Market’s place in the cultural and economic scene of Kuala Lumpur was so established that when it was announced that Central Market would be closed for refurbishment and later, to be reopened as Pasar Seni, with all economic activities to be relocated elsewhere, there was strong opposition to the proposed plan, so much so that even politicians entered the fray.

Painters in a row. (@ all rights reserved)

Today, what was known as Central Market has been fully transformed into Pasar Seni.

Economic activities still take place within the walls of Pasar Seni, but instead of fish, poultry and vegetables being the main items, the focus is now on the arts and culture.

A different type of business activity altogether compared to the days of the old Central Market.

Pasar Seni itself has been refurbished several times and is today known as one of the centres of tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, so much so, on any given day, you will find tourists and locals hanging out in or around Pasar Seni.

The image looks familiar? (@ all rights reserved)

One of the key attractions of Pasar Seni is what I personally call the Painters’ Row.

It houses many a talented painter artist as well as a ‘mini studio’ cum gallery.

Painters’ Row is also where you can get a portrait of yourself done, be it from a chosen photograph or on the spot sketch.

It sometimes amazes me to see the results of these sketches, for they are very, very good indeed. Good enough, in fact, to have adorn some of the corporate board rooms and art galleries around Kuala Lumpur.

Outside the Pasar Seni. (@ all rights reserved)

A visit to Pasar Seni would not be complete, for me at least, if I did not sit myself at one of those eateries and help myself to a serving of local cakes and food.

It may not be as good as your mother’s or your wife’s cooking, but it is still good enough especially if it still has a semblance of the original taste and appearance.

A good and fitting way to end your visit to Pasar Seni, I would say.


Date : 25 July 2017