Petaling Street

Posted by: Sunny T in Market, Travel Add comments

Petaling Street well known as Chinatown located in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, southest of Central Market, bounded by Jalan Bandar, Jalan Petaling and Jalan Sultan. This area has dozens of restaurants and food stalls, serving local favorites foods such as barbecued fish, Asam Laksa, Curry Noodles, Hokkien Mee and etc. Traders here are mainly Chinese but there are also have Indian and Malay.

The original Chinatown centred on Market Square high street, now known as Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. became increasingly popular as it was higher than the rest of the town and therefore less prone to floods. The wealthier and more ornate shop houses were built north of Jalan Cheng Lock, closer to the business centre.

Kuala Lumpur was a typical “pioneer” town at the turn of the century, filled with a rough and tough population that was largely male. They were largely Cantonese and Hakkas who came to the city because of the tin trade, working as coolies in the mines. They were governed by a Chinese Kapitan or headmen. The most famous Chinese Kapitan is Yap Ah Loy, a Hakka.

In 1870, civil war erupted with the Chinese community being split along partisan lines into the Cantonese Ghee Hin and the Hakka Hai San secret societies. The British were called in to help end the strife but many of the buildings in the settlement were burnt down or severely damaged.

During the Selangor Civil War, the tin mines were abandoned and when the miners returned after the war, they found that the mines were flooded and therefore could not work. Yap Ah Loy persuaded the miners and coolies to remain in KL and the Malays in surrounding districts to grow rice and other garden products. He opened a Tapioca Mill in Petaling Street where the tubers from his farms were brought here to be ground into flour. Petaling Street is still fondly called ‘Chee Cheong Kai’ in Cantonese which means starch factory street.

In 2003, the road underwent a major RM11.3mil face lift with two large Chinese arches placed at both ends of the street to welcome visitors. It still pulls in many tourists, who go there to shop and will be regarded as a heritage site.

However, Petaling Street is still the best place to shop for counterfeit branded products and has large selection of local Chinese cuisine. For buyers, it is often possible to negotiate the price tag of an item such as watches, clothing and all counterfeit items. Petaling Street does not exclusively offer pirated products. Haggling is a common sight here and the place is usually crowded with locals as well as tourists.

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