KL Back Alleys

2 years ago when I received a job offer in Kuala Lumpur City, I was prepared for the typical hustle and bustle working life. True enough, from the higher levels of the office, you are able to get an almost-panorama view of the famous skyscrapers, with the majestic Petronas Twin Towers within sight. Being in the heart of the city also means we are not exempt from the infamous KL jam as the Jalan Raja Laut traffic light junction is rarely devoid of cars. You could say it pretty much lived up to my expectations of urban working life. Having that said, when you exit to the back of the office, it’s a different world.

Jalan Chow Kit – a road where the average Malaysian often associates to Rumah Tumpangan (Budget budget hotels and no, it isn’t a typo) and prostitution. I’ve even come to learn last year that a nearby street is actually famous for its transvestite prostitutes. And if you’re ‘lucky’ enough, you might even spot a junkie having his fix (Or worse, passed out) at the pedestrian bridge. If there was the perfect place for street photography, this would be it. However we will save the stories of prostitutes and junkies for another day. What is really interesting here though, is that the whole outlook is a throwback to the 70s or 80s. Wall paints are peeling and poorly maintained if any maintenance was done at all. Shops are mostly small or family-run businesses. Food outlets are mostly old-style coffee shops and hawker stalls. In other words, lunch here is always economical and local. It is as if this part of the city was largely ignored by the rapid development of the 90s.

One of the reasons I like working here is that you never have to worry about parking space. Next to the building is a large piece of land that has been converted to a parking lot and as each sections are managed by different operators, they have to charge cheaply to remain competitive. After all, where else in KL can you find charges only RM3/4 flat per day?!

Every Thursday and Friday, there will be a small morning market where the local residents would shop to stock up their groceries. Here, there is one particular nasi lemak stall that my colleagues and I loved. It is however not your typical nasi lemak as it contains pork – Deep Fried Marmite Pork to be exact. You might find it weird to have it with your nasi lemak initially but I can tell you, it compliments the fragrant rice and spicy sambal so well you wouldn’t have it a different way. In fact, the nasi lemak is so popular that it would be sold out by 9am. It’s not well-known outside the local community here though, thus I’d like to think it’s one of the best kept secrets of KL.

As you know from my previous post that I’ve resigned from my position. Before I leave, I wanted to capture the essence and emotion of these streets, the streets that I pass by everyday. Thus, for the past 5 days I brought my camera to work. I was planning on a shutter spree on a sunny day but unfortunately, it has been gloomy and drizzling all week. Still, I went on snapping and when I got my developed film today, I couldn’t be more satisfied. The vivid and sharp colours bring out the contrast of every little feature in photo whilst the cross-processed look gives it a vintage feel. This is exactly what I see every day of the past 2 years.


Canon EOS 888
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Kodak Elitechrome 100 (Cross-Processed)

View Full Set

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