The Old Colonial Influences in Kuala Lumpur

I was ruminating the other day that I have not been writing much about Kuala Lumpur (KL) city in my blog – the city that I have been living in for the past 16.5 years. Now, why is that? Hmm, I don’t know, really. Maybe it’s because when I’m in KL, I’m busy with the usual daily routine of work, house chores, catching up with family and friends (and blogging, ahem!). Then 2 or 3 months later, I leave KL for a weekend getaway somewhere in Malaysia or South East Asia, or a 2-week trip to a destination further away. I’m proud to be a Malaysian but am embarrassed to admit that my efforts in featuring something local in my blog have been somewhat lacking. However, that is going to change!

While I’m aware of the common places of interests in KL, I didn’t know exactly where to start my first exploration – too many ideas came to my mind. In the end, I settled for a GPSmyCity app, downloaded the Kuala Lumpur Self-Guided Walking Tours and chose ‘Kuala Lumpur Architecture’ as my first tour.

gpsmycity walking tours kuala lumpurThe ‘Kuala Lumpur Architecture’ tour covers 7 sites over a distance of 4.20km and it takes approximately 2 hours to complete. It’s workable but try to avoid the heat and high humidity between 11am to 3pm. If you must explore during those hours, please wear a hat and sunglasses, put on some sunblock and bring a bottle of water to prevent heatstroke and dehydration.

I didn’t follow the app to a tee but it gave me an idea to share with you, for starters, the old colonial influences seen in some of KL buildings. gpsmyscity walking tour info example

Mughal Style: Sultan Abdul Samad Building
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is one of our historical landmarks in KL. Built in the late 19th century by a British architect named A.C. Norman, its architectural design was Mughal style (symmetry, domes, arches, chattris) which Norman had adopted in many of his designs during his tenure with the Public Works Department in India and Africa. The building used to house several important government departments during the British administration, the superior courts of Malaysia but now it houses the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture.

kl bangunan sultan Abdul samad

Opposite the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square. It was here that the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malayan flag was hoisted for the first time at midnight on 31 August 1957.

kl dataran merdeka

Tudor and Victorian: Royal Selangor Club, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Convent Bukit Nanas
Prior to independence, the Green (or the Padang) of Dataran Merdeka was a cricket ground for the exclusive whites-only Royal Selangor Club which was built in early 20th century with Tudor-style architecture. Post-independence, the club expanded their membership to include high-ranking members of the Malaysian civil service and the law fraternity, and was once a common meeting place for judges and lawyers, given that the club’s proximity to the High Court previously located inside the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

kl royal Selangor club

Beside the Royal Selangor Club is one of the oldest Anglican churches in Malaysia – St. Mary’s Cathedral. The architectural design of St. Mary’s Cathedral is Victorian or English Gothic. Doesn’t it remind you of a church in an English countryside?

kl st marys cathedral

Just 15 minutes walk from St. Mary’s Cathedral is Convent Bukit Nanas (CBN), an all-girls secondary school located next to the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve. CBN is one of the oldest schools in Malaysia and is known for their excellence in education. CBN’s brother school, St John’s Institution is located along the same road.

I’m not exactly sure of the architectural style of CBN though it is English Gothic, according to sources on the internet.

kl convent bukit nenas primary school

Even if it’s not English Gothic, I’m just happy to take a photo of the school right after walking past St. John’s. This is because I was a Convent girl school in Malacca, thus seeing another Convent school especially the school crest of ‘Simple In Virtue, Steadfast in Duty’ makes me want to sing the school anthem loud and with pride!

Grecian-Spanish: St. John’s Institution
Located along the same road as Convent Bukit Nanas is St. John’s Institution (SJI). Similar to other La Salle schools in Malaysia such as St. Michael’s in Ipoh and St Francis in Malacca, SJI has maintained a certain amount of prestige due to the La Sallian Brothers and the School Board still hold autonomy over the management of the school though funding comes from the Ministry of Education. The school premises is owned by St John’s Cathedral which is situated next to the school.

kl st johns institution

Gazetted as a National Heritage, SJI is known for its red and white brick building which is apparently Grecian-Spanish style.

And Now, It’s Time For A Photo Contest! – [CONTEST CLOSED]

If you like to go on self-guided walks in your own city or wherever your travel destination is, here’s your chance to be your own tour guide .

GPSmyCity has given me ten (10) promo codes for their self-guided city walks app. The iOS and Android apps feature 5,000 self-guided city walks in over 470 cities worldwide. I have used it once and will be using again for my next exploration of KL 🙂

To win the code, all you have to do is:

  • Submit one (1) favourite heritage photo from your travels, be it in your city or anywhere else in the world.
  • Email the photo to with the subject title: Heritage Photo Contest.
  • Please state the name of the heritage place and the city where the photo was taken.
  • Don’t forget to include the link to your website or chosen social media channel, the city of your choice from the GPSmyCity list, and preferred platform (iOS or Android). To view the list of cities, please click here .
  • If you like my blog, do follow me in one of my social media channels: FacebookTwitter or Instagram . Or, if you wish to follow me on all 3 channels, go for it!
  • And lastly, please send your submission by latest 26th March 2016 [CONTEST CLOSED].

Not too difficult, eh? 🙂

The best 10 heritage photos will be published in a special post in my blog on 28th March. The photo will be credited to you and your website/chosen social media channel can be linked. In addition, you will receive a separate email from me with the promo code of the city that you have chosen from GPSmyCity.

Good Luck!


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  1. History and Modernness have blend in so perfectly in Kuala Lumpur. The whole way from Dataran Merdeka to Petronas, you see a transition of time and architecture that is so beautiful! Loved the post and the clicks 🙂

    1. Hi Vaisakhi,
      Thank you for your comment and visit to my blog 🙂 Glad that you liked the post and the photos. Have you been to KL?

  2. Love your post on Kuala Lumpur Kat, hopefully I will visit it sometime. I tried to look at my city from a traveler’s viewpoint and as pretty as it is was impossible for me. It’s the place where I cycle to work dodging tourists and giving people directions, it has simply become a backdrop to my life. Inspired by your post I will try and see my city from another perspective next time I go on a wander. Gx

    1. Thanks Grace. Yeah, hope you get to do that. Never mind the tourists – I have come to accept that because I, myself, is a tourist whenever I travel abroad. I never proclaim myself to be a routes-less-travelled-traveller, whatever “routes less travelled” means nowadays. Go wandering in your city, who knows, you may find some hidden gems, in spite of the crowd 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on Kat Pegi Mana: Where Is Kat Going? and commented:

    A gentle reminder, today is the last day to submit your heritage photo for the contest. You will get a chance to receive a GPSmyCity app, your photo, website or choice of social media channel will be featured in a special post :-).

    The rules are very, very simple. So check out the post again and I look forward to your participation! There’s still time!


  4. I love little self-guided tours like this and you always learn so much about the history and culture through the buildings, I think. I do remember looking at some of the most ‘English’ buildings and thinking how odd they looked in the heart of KL! #citytripping

    1. Oh why hilarious?? Glad that you liked KL..hope you also read about the heritage photo contest in the post. If you are interested, the deadline is 26 Mar, looking forward to your participation 🙂 Cheers!

  5. Great to see some of the architectural sights of your home city, Kat. I’m looking forward to using the London GPSmycity to discover more about my city. And you are right, the church does look rather English. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  6. I’ve been to KL before and I liked it enough, but I did NOT know a lot of this. So interesting to read and makes me want to go back so I can appreciate things more.

    1. Hi Carrie, you’re not the only one – many Malaysians are surprised too about the history behind the interesting spots in KL 🙂 Hope you got the chance to read about the heritage photo contest in the post? If you are interested, the deadline is 26 March, looking forward to your participation. Cheers!

    1. Yeah, and apart from visiting Malaysia, KL is a strategic gateway for people to proceed with their travel plans to other countries in the South East Asia region; flying time is only a few hours 🙂

  7. Isn’t it always the case? We always take for granted the place that we live in and somehow forget the fact that people actually visit our place for tourism. When I was living in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa tower was such a normal sight for me until one day when I saw a group of tourists who stopped walking to admire its beauty did I notice it myself. I was left in awe which is quite weird because I see it every single day. Lol.

    Nice round-up! I’ve been to KL a looooooong time ago and I think I should go back there soon. 🙂

    1. Hahah, absolutely, I think quite a number of local residents feel the same way too 🙂 Hope you got the chance to read about the heritage photo contest in the same post? If you’re interested, am looking forward to see your participation. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Jen…we tend to highlight the hidden gems in other countries but not our own. Looking forward to your participation in the contest? 🙂 Cheers!

  8. Kuala Lumpur looks interesting but I understand that as a local it is hard sometimes to appreciate what you experience everyday, especially since you’ve been there so long. I look forward to seeing more of your posts as a local.

  9. I think KL has a rich history and loads of beautiful buildings.. it’s just that as locals, we get a bit jaded coz we look at them (nearly) everyday. 😛
    Interesting contest, will dig through some photos and see if I have any good ones. 😀

    1. ‘Tis the curse of being a local. Sometimes you overlook things that travelers would be in awe of but it’s never too late to rediscover them and be a tourist in your own city 🙂

      1. Absolutely. When I was in Kolkata last year, the blogger who hosted me, mentioned how happy she was to explore the city with me because she hardly found the time on her own. When she wasn’t travelling, she would be at home busy writing and working on projects.

    2. Absolutely, we drive past them so frequently that we become a bit jaded. Hope you join the contest, it’s quite easy. I’m sure you have good heritage photos of Philippines (hint, hint) :-). Do share with your friends if any of them interested to participate. They don’t have to be a blogger or photographer to participate in the contest. Cheers.

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