Sunday, August 29, 2010

KL – St. Anthony Church and From Chinatown to Pasar Seni Station

A few years back, while living in London’ s Cricklewood area, I’d sneak inside an Anglican church whenever I felt the need to pray. I knew somehow that God would listen wherever I do it, but it was comforting to do it inside a house where hundreds of souls congregate to pray. That is, after all, the concept of a church: a commune of believers. 

I couldn't find a nearby Catholic Church from the Gladstone Park area, so a small Anglican church in the neighborhood became a surrogate house of prayer. It didn't matter then that I was a Catholic inside an Anglican church. It felt safe, and it gave me the security of being heard.

Kuala Lumpur (KL) has few Catholic churches. The archdiocese's Mother Church (the seat of its Archbishop) is St. John's Cathedral. Unfortunately, I've never even visited St. John’s. The current Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur is Archbishop Tan Sri Datuk Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam who was appointed by Pope John Paul II on May 24, 2003.

St. Anthony Church along Jalan Robertson.

After a satisfying few days in Kuching (Sarawak), I finally found a catholic church near Jalan Pudu. I walked towards Tung Shin Hospital, crossed the street then turned right when I saw Jalan Robertson, an empty street that's isolated from city hustle. There were few parked vehicles, and derelict buildings. Just a block from Pudu, I found a structure decked in church - St. Anthony Church.


There has so far been 8 St. Anthonys which includes a Diocletian martyr, Kiev’s Cave saint, a Florentian Antoninus, and the founder of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I had a hunch KL’s is St. Anthony of Padua (Lisbon, Portugal). St. Anthony is known to have become the "quickest" saint in the history of the Catholic Church because he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX less than a year after his death on the 30th of May of 1232. 

St. Anthony is popular in Brazil and Portugal being the patron saint of marriage because legend has him helping couples on a rough patch. Meanwhile, In Uvari, a town in Tamil Nadu, the church of St. Anthony is home to an ancient wooden statue that is said to have cured the entire crew of a Portuguese vessel suffering from cholera.

Unfortunately for me, KL’s St. Anthony Church seemed to be closed most of the time, except during Sunday mass. When we got there, we walked around the compound, but there was nothing to see. Nevertheless, the visit made me feel good. Without much activity (or people for that matter), the area felt a bit eerie, with no shops nearby, except for a garbage truck that took forever to load their garbage. Jalan Robertson was a dead street, which we found unusual since it was just a block from Jalan Pudu. For more information, please call 02-2141-4172 once you’re in the capital.

From the church, I just walked right back to Jalan Pudu and headed towards Chinatown. I didn't have intentions of passing by Jalan Petaling which was always chaotic, so I took the street parallel to it. I made a right along Jalan Sultan (at the end of Petaling) then leisurely watched the Chinese shops that dot the place. There were fruit stands, guesthouses, internet shops, and a row of restaurants. I noticed a colorful shop selling red plastic-and-paper flowers, bird cages, and some giant vases painted in gold. Such colors used to amuse me, but as we age, these things turn kitschy – garish colors not soothing to the eye. But fascinating nevertheless.

I liked walking along Jalan Sultan. I saw Plaza Warisan, a shopping center that serves mostly working-class shoppers. It is located along Jalan Tun HS Lee which I was familiar with, since it's where Bangkok Bank is, and a few skips from the Central Market. 

A short distance away is Pasar Seni LRT Station. I've had a history with the station which sits beside a stream called Sungai Kelang, running alongside Jalan Sultan Mohammed. That station is almost never congested. Other landmarks in the area are as follows: the main post office, the Central Market, Klang Bus Station, Chinatown, and Puduraya Station.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

A Chinese shop at the Chinatown District along Jalan Sultan.

Red is the color of China.

Ocean Shopping Center and Plaza Warisan (location map below)

Jalan Sultan Mohammed at the end of my walk along Jalan Sultan.

Pasar Seni Station for the KL Monorail train.

Sungai Kelang. The Vistana is a business hotel that has 364 rooms. Visit its site here:

St. Anthony de Padua (Lisbon)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting to Melaka and Back - Malacca Part 9

Bukit Jalil Bus Terminal

Getting to Melaka from KL used to be quite easy! You just head to Puduraya Bus Station (Hentian Puduraya), along Jalan Pudu, northeast and a leisurely 20-minute walk from Bukit Bintang. You didn’t even need to make advance bookings. A bus leaves KL every 30 minutes during rush hour; every hour on most times, and 1 ½ hours during the dead hours! But since the on-going renovations of Puduraya Terminal that started April 2010 – and one that would supposedly take 4 months, it has been a different story.

Puduraya services most interstate buses, from KL to most places in Peninsular Malaysia (except for 2 destinations – Jerantut and Kuala Lipis). Even buses bound for Singapore and Thailand leave from Puduraya! The few ones that travel to Cameron Highlands will wait for passengers right across the station (since most buses that head to the Hills seem to leave from a Bus Terminal at Titiwangsa).


Puduraya was opened in 1976 by a former Prime Minister, and after 30 years, it underwent renovations in 2006. It is thus puzzling why another major renovation was scheduled just 4 years after its last refurbishments. Puduraya has bus platforms at the ground level, while the 2nd floor is home to bus ticket stalls, a hotel (Hotel Puduraya), a post office (which I never saw), 2 left luggage centers (that meticulously checks what’s inside your bags), restaurants, news and fruit shops. Since it was temporarily decommissioned, all bus services have been transferred to a makeshift bus terminal in Bukit Jalil If you’re not familiar with KL trains, it can be quite an exciting little adventure in itself.

Melaka Sentral


In one of my rides to Bukit Jalil (which is an area known for their gold courses), I took the wrong train as it was heading to the right direction. However, I forgot to consider the fact that there are 2 stops headed in the same direction. I took the Ampung Line, instead of the Sri Petaling Line! I had to get off at Miharja, back track to a common station and took the correct Sri Petaling line to Bukit Jalil! If you’re not in a hurry, it’s fun finding your way around.

Anyway, I will have a separate post on taking the train to Bukit Jalil for emphasis – and nice photos!


Once you get yourself to Bukit Jalil, you will see the gargantuan National Stadium, which was an impressive sight! Head to the nearby road, and cross the street, then walk to your right. You shall pass through a small bridge. Once you see the equally impressive Hockey Stadium, just across it, you find the Bukit Jalil Bus Terminal. Walk towards the tented atrium, and find the stalls that book buses for Melaka. There are probably 3 which should include Delima Bus, Metro Bus and if it’s still operational for Melaka trips, the Transnasional (Malaysia’s biggest and most reliable consortium of buses) which was my bus the first time I visited Melaka!

I got a ticket from the Delima Bus at 12.50 ringgit (It used to be 8 ringgit 3 years ago). The trip will take 2 hours and terminates at Melaka Sentral. Like most interstate buses, Delima Bus is new, smells new, with comfortable seats and an AC! My bus pulled out from the station at 9:30 AM. Then I somehow went off into a restful nap! By 11:30 AM, I was in Melaka!

Delima Bus to Melaka


Melaka Sentral is a well planned bus terminal where shopping could be had. Pashminas are cheaper here than in KL, and there are even DVDs on sale – titles that aren’t found in the capital, probably because it is relatively closer to the Singapore border! The terminal is divided into 2 areas: the interstate bus terminal (for the long distance buses) and the intercity/local bus terminal for buses that ply around the state of Melaka. Direction? Just ask the locals!

Melaka Sentral

This is the Melaka Sentral's Interstate Bus Terminal wing, a circular atrium where you can wait for your bus.


Once at the local terminal, which is really just a walk to the other side of the covered building. I spotted Bus no. 17 (green bus, non-AC) conveniently marked “Town Bus Service”. For just 1.50 ringgit (prepare exact change because they won’t give your change back ), I slipped my bus fare at the collection box located just beside the driver. I took the seat in front, while munching on my 1 ringgit fruits. Though the dragon fruit is my current favorite, I specifically enjoyed the huge slices of the juicy and sweet “Star Fruit” (which locals call “belimbing”). Manila folks are used to the smaller and very sour variety of “balimbing”.

P.S. If you’re headed to the shopping complexes like Mahkota Parade and Dataran Pahlawan Megamall, then take Town Bus no. 50!

Melaka Sentral is 4.5 kilometers from the city’s historical center, the Stadthuy area!

1 ringgit fruits: papaya, guava, watermelon, dargon fruit, star fruit, etc.

What are these? Any Malaysians help? They were exceedingly sweet, I eventually threw them away.

Star Fruit, the big, juicy and sweet variety. They are also called Carambola or balimbing (in Manila), and belimbing in Malaysia.

Town Bus Service no. 17 at a cheap 1.50 ringgit!


Later that day, I waited for the same commuter bus along Dataran Pahlawan Megamall. This took me quite awhile, I was almost tempted to take a taxi instead. Fortunately, even a taxi was nowhere in sight. I belatedly found out that the “Town Bus Service” is conveniently parked just right across Mahkota Parade (a complex of shopping malls opposite Dataran Pahlawan Megamall). It was headed straight to Melaka Sentral. For just 1.50 ringgit again, I paid for myticket! Barely 3 years ago, this same bus took 1 hour as it roamed the different areas of Melaka before terminating at the terminal. It was a very cheap tour around town, but it took forever. This time though, it only took 15 minutes!

Once at Melaka Sentral, I looked for Transnasional’s ticket counter but it was closed. They really must have decommissioned their Melakan trips – I am not sure! I settled with a “Metro Bus Express” which didn’t look as new as the Delima. I just missed Delima by a couple of minutes, and I refused to wait for the next hour. Since Metro Bus Express was boarding, I snatched my 12.50-ringgit ticket, and settled comfortably. While the gentlest rains washed the lands, my bus was breezing through Malaysia and I fell in deep slumber!

I shall awake once KL beckons.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Bus no. 50 to Melaka Sentral waits in front of Mahkota Parade - 1.50 ringgit.


Buses from KL to Melaka fare – 12.50 ringgit per adult

Local bus fare from Melaka Sentral to City Center – 1.50 ringgit

Panorama Melaka fare – 5 ringgit and 2 ringgit per person per day

Metro Bus Express Schedule of Melaka-to-KL: 8:30 AM, 9 AM, 10, 11:30, 12 PM, 1 PM, 2:30, 3, 4, 5:30, 6 PM, 7 PM (last bus to KL) at 12.50 ringgit per person

Duration of travel from KL to Melaka: 2 hours

Melaka has opened a hop-on, hop-off bus service called “Panorama Melaka” which takes tourists to most of the attractions in town. The red bus charges a flat rate of 5 ringgit a day, while the blue bus charges 2 ringgit a day! They run at 10-minute intervals. However, this service is only made available from a ridiculously short 7 AM to 12 Noon. By the time most day tourists get to Melaka, the service would have already “retired”.

Melaka to KL Bus Schedule of Metro Bus Express

Puduraya Bus Station (Hentian Puduraya), underwent renovations since April 12, 2010. This photo only courtesy of wikipedia's two hundred percent.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dataran Pahlawan (Heroes Square) Mega Mall - Melaka Part 8

Dataran Pahlawan Mega Mall is located at the Bandar Hilir area, facing Jalan Merdeka (South Gate) to its front and Jalan Kota at the back (North Gate). As described in Trip Advisor, the mall is your “conventional mall, which doesn't stand out. The design is like a long snake. It lacks width so it makes up in length. You'll be walking straight down the aisles with some nooks and corners.”

It is described as South Malaysia’s biggest mall which is hard to believe, since the mall feels pretty small, with comparatively low ceilings. Dataran is the bahasa word for “square”, while Pahlawan means “heroes” so the mall’s name is translated into “Heroes Square” unless I’m being too literal about it. A special feature of this place for me is a small shop (you may miss it if you’re not too attentive) on your way to the cinema. This shop sells my favorite vice – cheap DVD’s at just 6 ringgit per piece, and if you get 5, you have 1 free! I shamelessly bought 12 pieces!

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Part 7 - Images from St. Paul's Hill

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Hill Has Eyes - Melaka Part 7

Words are irrelevant when you're just letting time tick away, watching people walk by. One of my favorite pastimes during these travels is the opportunity to just sit back at a quiet corner, and for a few minutes, feel the gentle breeze and the warmth of the sun. When you wander all alone in a foreign land, every second becomes precious snap shots that accompany you. And when there's no one beside you to remind you of your name or identity, it's easy to find your self once again.

This is the Eye in the Sky!