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Walking Tour: Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur

Bordering the fringes of the Kuala Lumpur city centre, Bangsar South is perhaps best known as a modern business hub, home to multi-story office towers, luxury condos and chic retail outlets. The commercial area is nicely landscaped with parks, plenty of greenery and wide, paved roads, and the three main buildings – The Sphere, The Nexus and The Vertical – are all connected via convenient pedestrian bridges.

I was in the neighborhood recently and decided to walk around to take in the sights – here are some photos.

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I like how the area has been designed to incorporate lots of public green spaces, like this park with water features, sandwiched between towering offices. A perfect respite for office workers during lunch break.
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The iconic TM Tower, designed to resemble the shape of a bamboo shoot. It also looks remarkably like Stark Tower. When the Avengers premiered in Malaysia, the Avengers logo was projected onto the tower, as part of TM’s collaboration with Marvel Malaysia.
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One thing the Bangsar South neighbourhood has no shortage of: beautiful, modern architecture.
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Aside from offices, Bangsar South also boasts a repertoire of chic restaurants, cafes and eateries as well. Some of them are pretty famous; like Botanica + Co, SOULed Out, and The Farm Foodcraft. There’s also a branch of my favourite tonkatsu place, Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, here.
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Bridge connecting The Vertical, The Sphere and Nexus.

I’ve been watching a lot of walking tours on Youtube lately, so here’s my attempt at one! I don’t have a gymbal or anything so it might be shaky at times.

Things To Do At Linc KL: Murals, Art And All Things Instagrammable

With Kuala Lumpur peppered with malls left, right and centre, do we really need another boxy, air-conditioned space with the same cookie-cutter brands?

The newly opened The Linc KL, however, offers a different experience. Tucked along Jalan Tun Razak, the artsy retail and creative space features a unique design, promising to connect visitors to ‘nature, community and human interaction’. N and I were in town recently, so we dropped by to check the place out.

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The mall’s design is certainly not traditional. Aside from colourful murals and art installations, the space’s centre court features a giant Ficus Benjamina, or Ficus Tree, which can grow up to 30 metres high. The Linc’s specimen is massive, its large, twisting branches spreading to form a dense canopy three-storeys high.

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Large and airy, the mall incorporates plenty of green (both real and aesthetic) into its design. Murals featuring flowers and foliage run the length of the walls, with artsy poetry to go along. There are also lots of spots with seats where people can just chill and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Retail-wise, there are plenty of independent and artisanal brands and cool eateries. Frangipani Bulk, a zero-waste store, is located on the ground floor, just across from Ben’s Independent Grocer. Other stores include Bendang Artisan, which carries handmade tableware and crockery, coffee place Bean Brothers, and Homes by Rahim x Nik, which sells locally-designed rattan furniture.

What most youngsters will enjoy is probably the Instagram-worthy art installations and murals scattered across the mall,

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The Owl by Amarul Abdullah. All of the murals in the mall are done by local artists.

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The piece-de-resistance – “Doves”, comprising 41,600 folded paper doves in 40 colours, hung from the ceiling to form a mesmerising curtain of shades.

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Since the mall is pretty new, there isn’t yet much to do – but we’re looking forward to exploring more of the space once more tenants move in.

THE LINC KL 

360, Jalan Tun Razak, KL.

Open Daily from 10am-10pm

Petrosains KLCC Revisited

The last time N was here, we didn’t have enough time to visit Petrosains @ KLCC, but we finally managed to go on his most recent visit. My last visit was four years ago and I remember complaining that most of the exhibits were the same as they were since 1999. This time around they’ve updated / added some sections – so kudos to the management for keeping things fresh and relevant!

It was a public holiday and it took us more than an hour just to get inside. Once in there though N was like an excited kid, running to each exhibit and wanting to try them all out.

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The wind tunnel where you can experience wind speeds of up to 128kp/h

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Heat sensing thermo camera.

At 70,000 sq ft, the science center is pretty large so allocate at least two hours to explore everything.

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3D Hologram Projection of an astronaut, which looked as if the figure was floating in space.

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For an additional fee, visitors can go on this rotating contraption to experience G-Force. N bravely decided to try it – and was spun in all directions – right side up, upside down – for a good minute or two as I cheered from the sidelines ha

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The section dedicated to geology and how fossil fuels came to be features a life-sized T-Rex. It used to be able to sing.

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They added a hanging bridge which connects one end of the circular hallway to the other.

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PetroSains gets points for interactivity. Lots of science-related experiments and games to try your hand at!

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How to connect the tunnels and gears to get a ping pong ball to drop to the bottom.

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A liquid that reacts to force to form these odd crystal-like shapes.

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Another section made to look like an oil platform. You can even try wearing the safety suits that the oil rig staff have to wear for a picture.

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Attempting to align a pipe

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Petronas was a major sponsor in Formula 1 until it ended its run here in MY two years ago – so there is still a section in Petrosains dedicated to it, which includes virtual racing car games and a life-sized replica of a Formula 1 racing car.

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Another section which was new was done in a comics/art pop style, dedicated to educating youngsters about cyber bullying and the dangers of the Internet such as sexual predators – which I thought was extremely thoughtful and educational.

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Bought a squishy from the store which I promptly destroyed within a day because I was constantly squishing it in my hand lol.

Entry to Petrosains is RM18.50 for Malaysians and RM28 for non-Malaysians.

Opening hours: 930AM – 5PM (last entry 4PM – weekdays) and 930AM – 630PM (weekends). Closed Mondays except on public holidays.

Song of Lahore: Sachal Ensemble at the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival (Diversecity KL)

Lahore. 

The name of one of Pakistan’s wealthiest ancient cities still evokes a sense of exotic mystery and romanticism. After all, the city has seen the rise and fall of many empires: Hindu Shahis, the Mughal, Persians, Sikh and the British, among others. At the height of its splendour, there were well maintained gardens and palaces, orchards, busy bazaars bursting with life and buildings with beautiful architecture. Post independence, Lahore was a vibrant cultural and artistic hub, known for its movie industry (called ‘Lollywood’) and a thriving music scene.

Lahore Fort – Wikimedia Creative Commons, Rohaan Bhatti, 2014

Then came war, and radical Islamization. Non-religious music was prohibited or discouraged, movie theatres were shut down, and the once popular musicians of Lahore found themselves having to pull rickshaws or work in coffee shops for a living, hiding their instruments in back closets. The tablas and sitars sounded no more in Lahore’s bazaars.

Until 2004, when a local millionaire named Izzat Majeed quietly founded Sachal Studios, and convinced some of these old musicians to pick up their rusty instruments and play again. And boy oh boy, did they play.

picture courtesy of Diversecity KL 2017

First releasing some classical and folk albums, the group called Sachal Ensemble then moved on to making experimental music – a unique combination that fused jazz with the traditional South Asian instruments favoured by Lahore’s musicians of old. The album received worldwide acclaim, especially their rendition of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, which earned the group a session in New York to perform at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra. A documentary was made on their journey, called the Song of Lahore, and since then, the Ensemble has been making waves all over the world – playing for the BBC, and most recently in Kuala Lumpur for the Diversecity: KL International Arts Festival 2017.

The two-day show was held at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Auditorium. After reading about their story and checking out their music online, I was super psyched to attend the opening show last Saturday. Dragged the Bro along coz I couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to go lol.

On another note, I didn’t know that DBKL had an auditorium on their premises. It was well kept although the speakers weren’t of the best quality.

It was a little sad to see that the hall wasn’t even half full. The stage had been set with beautiful patterned mats/carpets and instruments: all we had to wait for was the entrance of its musicians.

The show started on the dot at 8.30PM and once the lights dimmed down, a group of middle-aged and elderly men, dressed in crisp white kurtas, walked onto stage. Some had well rounded paunches; others wore thick glasses, and there was a musician with snowy white hair and a balding top, who settled in the far corner with a bright red electric guitar settled over his hip. Definitely not your typical boy band, lol.The players settled down in front of their tools, which were an eclectic mix of traditional and modern: tabla (hand drums), flute, a South Indian violin, percussions, keyboard, electric sitar.

And then,the magic began.

Since recording wasn’t allowed, I’ve linked their stuff from Youtube here, but of course, nothing beats listening to it live.

The hour and a half show was a dazzling treat for the auditory senses. Aside from traditional compositions, the ensemble also reinterpreted modern tunes like the Pink Panther theme, giving it a South Asian twist. I was blown away by their skills. Hands moved at the speed of lightning against the tabla, tapping and pounding and creating wonderful beats that made one feel like dancing to the rhythm, while the flutist whistled strangely heart-tugging melodies, his fingers gliding up and down the instrument in complicated yet fluid motions. There were several sitar solos, which I loved. It’s hard to replicate the sound made by sitars – it has a dramatic flair that evokes deep emotions within the heart. The musicians themselves looked like they were having great fun despite the thin audience; some of them smiled and looked at each other while playing the pieces.

When the show came to an end, what little of the crowd stood up (us included) and gave them a standing ovation. It was such a delightful performance with showmanship of the highest order, and it opened my eyes to the beauty and magic of Pakistani/South Asian music and instruments. What a shame that these musicians, many of whom come from families with long musical backgrounds, had to hide for so long, their professions scoffed at. And how wonderful that they need not hide anymore, after all these years, and what’s more – they can now bring the treasures of their talent for the world to enjoy.

(Left) Izzat Majid, the far-seeing philanthropist who made the whole thing possible.

I sincerely hope that the musicians from the Sachal Ensemble can continue to bless the world with their amazing melodies, and that a new generation of musicians will be inspired to keep the traditions of Pakistan alive. It would be such a shame if these art forms were lost forever.