An American Abroad

Kuala Lumpur: Chow Kit

My hotel was in the Chow Kit district of Kuala Lumpur. My hotel doesn’t advertise that fact. Some guidebooks and websites suggest that Chow Kit is a seedy and even dangerous place. Maybe those descriptions are out of date. Maybe the people who wrote them were confusing relative poverty with danger and sleaze. Maybe my own urban radar is just out of whack, but I didn’t perceive Chow Kit that way at all.

In fact, I’d say that Chow Kit is my kind of place. Unpretentious. A little out of the way, but hard by the central city. Not paved over with skyscrapers like so much of the rest of Kuala Lumpur, but still possessed of buildings dating back to the 19th century. It’s a neighborhood of small shops, working class people, and friendly street markets behind decaying apartment blocs.

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  1. Mary Cole says:

    I know what karaoke means, but what does “tat tat” refer to? Interesting.

    • James Trumm says:

      Good question, Mary. And given the ployglot nature of KL, you’d first have to figure out what language it is. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all.

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