Exploring The Zhongshan Building, Kuala Lumpur

I’ve been meaning to go to the Zhongshan Building in Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur ever since I read about it in one of our magazines, but was too shy to do it alone lol.

The chance finally came when the Boy came to visit, so we went there over the weekend to check out what the independent creative and research hub had to offer.


Run by OURArtProjects Gallery, the building consists of three interconnected shophouses dating back to the 1950s, that once housed the Zhongshan Association, which is a frozen foods supplier. Currently, a dozen tenants call it home, including art, design and fashion studios, research centres, art galleries, a library, record store and more.

Start from the ground floor, which houses OURArts Project gallery. Although small, the place showcases a good selection of curated works by up and coming local artists.


Just next door is Naaise, which sells gifts, souvenirs and handmade goodies. Founded in Singapore, the shop nevertheless has plenty of items that resonate with local tastes , since Malaysia and Singapore share many cultural traits. If you fancy some kuih-shaped pillows and T-shirts with Singlish/Manglish phrases, then Naaise is the place to go.

Some of the quirky things you can find here:


Unique card games with names like “The Lepak Game” – lepak being Malay slang for ‘chill/hangout’.


Cutesy dish scrubbers


Pop-up cards depicting typical street scenes in Malaysia/Singapore – especially the pre- colonial shop houses unique to this region,


Wooden cameras


These pretty cards that are a throwback to the 60s – not sure if it’s a Western thing but we had this Hong Kong Chinese show that was very popular in that era, called “Black Rose” – a crime fighting femme fatale that wore a mask – so I imagine the characters in the cards are an homage to that.


It took all my willpower not to buy some of these gorgeous looking notebooks – there were even hand-marbled ones!

Other stuff you can get at the store: everything from perfumes and fragrances, oils and candles to soaps, batik and accessories.


After you’re done at Naaise, exit through the back into a well-lit courtyard, where you will find Tommy le Baker, a popular bakery-cum-cafe. Waiting times are pretty long, but patient patrons will be well rewarded with delicious sandwiches and tartines, featuring freshly baked sourdough bread + ingredients such as cured salmon, rotisserie chicken, an assortment of cheeses, and more.



Cured salmon sandwich which came chock full of ingredients. Th  salty goodness was balanced out by the bread, which was soft on the inside but with a crispy crust.


Garlic cream cheese spread on sourdough bread + a side of tomato with relish = divine.


New to Zhongshan is Bendang Studio, a handmade ceramic and pottery store. They also organise pottery classes, but visitors should register in advance coz they get sold out quickly!


The layout at Zhongshan is reminiscent of a flat, with narrow stairways, as well as little nooks and crannies to explore. While some are retailers and open to the public, others are private studios so it’s a good idea to knock /seek permission if you’re curious.

(Above) lining the walls in one of the corridors are single pages torn from books.


A must check out for book lovers is Tintabudi, an independent bookstore that carries vintage and second hand books, and sometimes rare restored classics. The small, cosy space is bathed in a yellow light and has a rustic, homely feel to it  – more like someone’s personal library than a bookstore.


If you exit through the back, you’ll come to PiuPiuPiu, a hole in the wall coffee bar that serves cakes alongside pale ale and lagers. Seats are limited, but patrons can opt to sit on the patio and enjoy the sunshine.


Dedicated to all things punk and rock, Tandang Store carries vinyl, cassettes and CDs, as well as zines, books and punk-related paraphernalia. The exterior of the store is a colourful tapestry of gig posters, calls for band members and graffiti.


We were a bit shy to go in. 😛


Upstairs we found a spot called My Pink Hibiscus, an inclusive space for gatherings, sharing and events. Unfortunately last I checked, they’ve already moved out of the Zhongshan building.


While you’re in the area, do check out the nice, colourful graffiti next to the Zhongshan Building, which makes for very Instagrammable shots. 😉



Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur


Parking: I recommend parking at the parking lot on the hill above the building and walking down through the stairs. We thought it was a Saturday so we parked in the back alley and got a nice DKBL ticket for it lol.


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.


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


Heat sensing thermo camera.

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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


Attempting to align a pipe


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.



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.


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.

Travel Blog: Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur – Once Upon A Chinatown

You’re probably wondering why I chose to call it ‘once upon’, like it’s not anymore.

Well, that’s because it’s not. Not really.

Tourists may know it as Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Chinatown’, but the truth is that Petaling Street has long ceased to be one. The grand archway may have tiny red lanterns and a curved green-tiled rooftop, but the authenticity of the place ends there; having made way for a cheap flea-market-esque atmosphere. Bangladeshis, Myanmarese, Indian nationals, etc., are employed by Chinese bosses to peddle their wares. Some of the food stalls are still manned by the Chinese, but even these are slowly being replaced by foreign labour.

I’m not saying its a bad thing per se – many of Chinatown’s businesspeople have worked hard over the years and they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour in their twilight years, since many youngsters no longer want to continue the fam biz – but it is still sad all the same that this once glorious Chinatown’s culture and spirit have been eroded in favour of commercialisation.

Listen to me rambling! That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t drop by Petaling Street – there’s plenty to see and do if bargaining and shopping for (overpriced lol)ripoffs are your thing. And the place does have a rich history. You just have to dig a little deeper.

Before Kuala Lumpur became the metropolis it is today, it was just another muddy ol’ spot with rich tin deposits. Seeking riches, the Chinese (mostly Hokkien and Hakka clansmen) came to work as coolies in the tin mines in the late 1800s. They were governed by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, a rich Chinese businessman and prominent figure in the early founding days of KL. It was around this time that Chinatown was founded, playing host to tradesmen, farmers, restaurants and other businesses. If you go hunting around, you might still find some hidden gems like the Yook Woo Hin dim sum restaurant, which was founded in 1928 !

Lots of stalls set up all along the pedestrian pathways sell ‘bargain’ bags, clothes, toys, handphone accessories, etc.

This shop that sold fancy fidget spinners for RM15 uncle nei mou hui cheong

For me, the only authentic part of Petaling Street left are the food shops, which sell various local and Chinese favourites, like pastries, biscuits and baked buns. There is, of course, the famous air mata kucing shop (literally cat’s eye tears) which is a blend of monk’s fruit juice with longan.

Stalls selling bakchang (glutinous rice dumplings) for the Mid Autumn Festival.

An old uncle still making a living from his pushcart selling ‘dai gau meen’ (big face dough?) or apam balik, filled with bits of peanut and sweet corn.

Fresh sugar cane juice and coconuts.

So is Petaling Street worth a visit?

If you’re a first timer to KL, the place is within close proximity to all the attractions like Pasar Seni (Central Market) and Kasturi Walk (similar concept to Chinatown, but with more Malay traders). Bargain hunters or people who like to shop for cheap imitations might find a few gems here, that or food hunters, might also find the place good for a visit. If you’re looking for a slice of Chinese culture though, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Opening hours: 10AM – late

Getting There 

Convenient if you’re taking the train; just alight at Pasar Seni LRT. Petaling Street is about 5 minutes walk away (next to Central Market).

Also read my other Chinatown experiences in: 

Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 


Los Angeles, California 

San Francisco, California 

Binondo, Manila