kuala lumpur au naturel

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Away from the shiny edifices of the Kuala Lumpur City Center driving in a general northerly direction will bring you to Kepong, a former tough guy township and now inner city suburb that shows off best the city’s authentic side. It is the twin faces of urban blight and buzz that is familiar to folks in KL except tidy expatriates and middle class families who spend most of their lives in the air-conditioned malls of Bangsar and Bandar Utama (two of the city’s more affluent suburbs). Like the barrios and favelas of Latin America, Kepong is at once menacing and reassuring. Even on an overcast and lazy Saturday morning the place fascinates more than any other part of KL I know.

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The streets appear disheveled but well-swept in the morning before descended upon by heat, traffic and people

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Off to work on a Saturday morning

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Chinese have traditionally been the dominant ethnic community here

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Immigrants from unfamiliar continents have brought their cuisine to Kepong

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a mobile phone shop caged behind bars- a rare sight in a city where violent crime is perceived to be low

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I have never fully understood why  Punjabi is officially used in Malaysia only on multi-lingual sign warning of eletrocution

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A recycling bin doubles as a community notice board

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All images copyright Kerk Boon Leng September 2013

merdeka day in kuala lumpur

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“ At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty – a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world.”

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, Speech on the Proclamation of Independence, 31 August 1957

Merdeka (independence) Day on 31 August is Malaysia’s national day. This year it marks the country’s 56 years of independence from Great Britain in 1957. A few leading radio stations in Kuala Lumpur got together to organise a charity event in support of orphanages in the city.

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All images copyright Kerk Boon Leng 31 August 2013