Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur – 1.4 Billion Dollars Not Enough
Kampung Baru, a 379 acre Malay enclave in the heart of the city of Kuala Lumpur, meets all of my life-partner-selection-criteria. Kampung Baru is rich, beautiful, and has huge… tracts of land (to paraphrase Monty Python). I can’t marry an “enclave”, but I can spend some time wandering the peaceful, leafy, village like streets of Kampung Baru. I suggest you do as well, before it disappears, forever.
Kampung Baru is a low-rise and peaceful anomaly within Kuala Lumpurs gleaming skyline.
Kampung means “village”. With a population of approximately 35,000, and a location in the shadow of the Petronas twin towers (the tallest twin-tower skyscrapers on earth), the roads here are narrow, and the traffic is light. Wooden houses are constructed predominantly in traditional Malay style, and in starck contrast to the sea of modern skyscrapers surrounding Kampung Baru, the buildings here exude Malay authenticity. They could do with a lick of paint here and there, but this just adds to the charm.
Already rich enough in spirit and lifestyle, the elders that are the guardians of Kampung Baru have turned away offers of 1.4 billion dollars for the area, insisting that the ethnic Malay lifestyle in the area is preserved. That’s a lot of Ice Kacangs. Stacked on top of one another, 1.4 Billion dollars of famous Malaysian Pineapple Tarts would reach the moon, nineteen times over. If Kampung Baru was to be lost to the wrecking ball, the city center of Kuala Lumpur would lose one of the most unusual areas to be found in any modern city on earth. Simply, Kampung Baru is irreplaceable.
“We will never sell Kampung Baru. Never.”
It really feels like you are in a remote Malayian village here. Open air wooden-shack restaurant. Dishes being washed in a huge bucket on the street. With Ice Kacang in hand, I chatted to the owner. There was no quivering in his belief, his family would never sell. Despite holding out for 110 years, I was told that powerful forces with huge sums of money are hell-bent on development of Kampung Baru. And, if the approximately 4300 owners of the area are splintered, Kampung Baru would rapidly transform into just another down-town area of a modern Asian city. This genuinely is one of the last tradional Malay areas in Kuala Lumpur. Indeed, the land is a “Malay Reserve”, and non-Malay’s are currently prohibited from purchasing or leasing land in Kamping Baru.
Emotive politics and money aside, no visit to Kuala Lumpur is complete without a stroll through Kampung Baru.
With incredibly easy accessibility, due to its prime location and extensive public transport options, it remains a lesser-visited part of Kuala Lumpur. Unusually, in the two or three hours I spent in Kuala Lumpur, eating, walking, and chatting with locals, I didn’t see any other tourists. Locals stared and smiled, in a way that only happens in those areas where tourists are few. In Malaysia, and especially Kuala Lumpur, tourists are never few.
Food. Smiling people. The clash of a rustic street level, with a backdrop of ultra-new towers. There are many reasons to visit here. One reason to visit Kampung Baru – it may just not be there next time you are in Kuala Lumpur.
Money, especially large sums of money, has a way of making things happen.
Will Kampung Baru be any different?
My advice to the residents – you can decide for yourselves whether to sell or not. But, remember that what you have in Kampung Baru is absolutely, 100%, irreplaceable. Money can only buy a place like Kampung Baru, once. After that, it’s gone forever.
That would be a sad day for Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia, and the world.
20 thoughts on “Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur – 1.4 Billion Dollars Not Enough”
Nice. I come here quite often, usually during lunchtime and its existence right in the heart of KL alone already fascinates me. They have always been there even before most of the high rise buildings were erected so losing them to give way to more high rise and modern buildings would definitely be a sad day for KL. It is irreplaceable indeed, not thanks to 1.4 billion ringgit.
Thanks for your comment, jipp. If I lived in KL, I would visit Kampung Baru all the time. Also, it’s a good point you make – this area indeed existed before all of the development.
Such an interesting contrast between this section of the city and all the modernity behind it – they definitely should not sell!
Totally agree Andrea. The contrast is quite remarkable, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it elsewhere.
I love Kampung Baru and the village atmosphere it beckons. Despite being located smacked bang in the middle of KL, like you said its quite weird you don’t see any tourist there. I really hope they don’t sell the land to those gready corporate conglomorates. Kampung Baru is definitely worth more than 1.4Billion dollars. You can never sell history nor culture for any price.
Totally agree Amer. Well said!
Nate, accidentally landed at ur page when google Xpro1. Indeed all photos are just awesome! I live in KL as well, but sad to say only ventured into Kampung Baru once that was last month! Rich Malay Culture! Will explore again. By the i own Nikon D700 full frame, Olympus OMD EM5,and seriously exploring Xpro1. Ur strong recommendation really a timely help. I am sold on Xpro1, XE1 is too small built. All the best in your journey!
Hey JE, thanks for stopping by. KL is an awesome city, you should check Kampung Baru more often! Good luck with your camera choice, and thanks for the compliments!
Thanks for your comment,I love kampung baru.
No worries, I love Kampung Baru as well.
Bookmarked! Will have to seek this out, sounds like the kind of city find I would love!
Do it Tash, it’s an incredible city.
Making comment as tourist vs what a resident might think is very different, most of the resident there who has rejected the development is because they felt that the compensation amount is too low. Because the land has a long history, therefore there are too many claim to the house or land slated for development, and everyone is asking for more money.
Thank you for the beautiful write up on Kampong Bharu. And the photographs are just gorgeous!
I was searching for a good write up on the village from the perspective of a foreigner to include in my newsletter. I am writing to ask your permission republish your article for our in-house publication.
You would be credited, of course, but I may have to omit certain paragraphs due to space constraints. However, I will provide the link if anyone should be interested to read the text in full.
Please let me know as soon as possible if I have your permission to use your article.
Did you try the famous nasi lemak antarabangsa? :)
Ummmm… I’m not 100% sure… I visited a few times, and I had Nasi Lemak a couple of times, but it was a while ago and my memory is hazy ;)
Kampung Baru is my original home Home and i miss the Old “Pasar Minggu” that they always had pasar malam every saturday also shortcut to my house but now……its ruined! everything is ruined! I dont know how much longer it will hold. I Had a dream last 4 years ago that we might be against police to defend our home. I dont know when it happen and i believe its a sign that kampung baru will not exist anymore.
Kampung Baru is an incredible place and has the potential to become a tourist hot spot. A virtual walking tour of Kampung Baru is desperately needed before they demolish all these beautiful houses.