Saturday, August 31, 2013


To all Malaysians who still remember what it was like in the 1960s when we celebrated Merdeka (Independence Day) on 31 August each year, here are some tunes to re-live happy memories. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


This morning I was watching Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN when the interview with Dr Maya Angelou came on. It was to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech of 28 August, 1963. For the next 15 minutes or so, I sat transfixed, listening to every gem of wisdom that came from her lips. At the end of it, I confess I shed some tears. I was emotionally overwhelmed by what she said in response to the questions asked.

Perhaps it's has to do with what's happening in my country these past weeks. All the fears, suspicions and mud-slinging that we read about in the papers every day, and the online comments - so full of hate and prejudice.

With a mere two days left before Independence Day on 31 August, the spirit of unity, of pride, of patriotism seems to be missing among my fellow Malaysians, many of whom are squabbling over the most trivial matters imaginable. Making mountains out of molehills seems to be the favorite national pastime. So much so it's like having to walk on eggshells all the time, so that we do not offend others, confuse them or upset them in any way.

Perhaps that's why Dr Angelou's words resonate so much with me. She may be referring to what she calls "the yet-to-be-united States of America", but what she says could easily be applicable to any country, any people, any human being.

Here's the interview, in two parts. If you are unable to view it below, you can watch it here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Photo grab off my TV screen

So glad I caught Dr Sanjay Gupta's documentary on "WEED" last Sunday on CNN. If you missed it, you can watch it on Youtube or here (below). Dr Gupta spent one year researching for the documentary, including interviewing people who have used weed as a medicine for their illnesses and ailments. From a skeptic, Dr Sanjay is now a firm believer in the medical benefits of weed and has publicly apologized on CNN for being 'so wrong' about weed, and for misleading the public all these years.

Weed is also known as marijuana, cannabis, pot or simply 'grass'. Supporters of the movement to legalize marijuana must feel vindicated that state governments are finally recognizing marijuana as an alternative medical treatment for cancer and other medical ailments. To date, 20 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana, with more expected to follow suit.

For those who would like some hard facts and statistics to be convinced about the medical benefits of marijuana, do watch the documentary below. It's best to study all the pros and cons before you draw your own conclusions about this controversial hemp. There are plenty of research studies and Youtube documentaries on the subject. Just google it.

Before you set out to purchase some weed or grow some in your garden, be mindful that marijuana is illegal in most countries, including Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia where it is known as 'ganja', anyone convicted of selling or possessing 200 grams (seven ounces) of marijuana receives a mandatory DEATH sentence. Period. So be forewarned.

Woodstock 1969 - featuring some of the biggest names in music then,  from Jimi Hendrix to the Grateful Dead; also Santana, Crosby, Stills and  Nash, CCR, Incredible String Band, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin, the Who, and Joan Baez. 

This was not the case prior to 1969 when ganja was quite easily available here and one could smoke it anywhere anytime without any issue in this country. In fact, few people knew about marijuana, and even fewer took an interest in it. Who would have thought that a day would come when you could be arrested for smoking these leaves or growing this plant.

Then Woodstock happened in 1969. Three days of young people celebrating love, peace and music in a dairy farm outside New York. Critics would label it three days of sex, drugs and rock n roll. Hoping to ride on the success of the music festival, a group of Woodstock fans here organized a similar festival in Kuala Lumpur. The event was given prominent media coverage the day after. A reporter wrote that the youths who turned up not only enjoyed the music, but also the ganja joints that were openly passed around and smoked. That set off alarm bells within the government, which promptly declared ganja illegal.

But that's another story, and I digress.

Just one of many such clinics in
Venice Beach, LA.
In 2011, I was on a family trip to Los Angeles. While strolling along Venice Beach with my grandchildren I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of marijuana clinics with 'doctors' in white coats prescribing medical marijuana for a small fee.

Marijuana is easily available in LA. But how safe is it for anyone to smoke it, or for a cancer patient to ingest it?

Based on the research and studies conducted, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, or suffered adverse side effects. In fact, the opposite is true. There is increasing evidence that taking marijuana does more good than harm.

It is believed that over 200 ailments can be treated with medical marijuana. Some of these are mentioned in the videos above.

Health Benefits of Medical Marijuana 
(click here for the full article and references).
  • prevents blindness from glaucoma
  • controls epileptic seizures
  • stops cancer cells from spreading
  • lowers anxiety
  • slows the progression of Alzheimer's
  • eases the pain of multiple sclerosis
  • reduces the side effects of Hepatitis C treatment
  • treats inflammatory bowel diseases
  • relieves arthritis discomfort
  • stops stuttering
  • relieves insomnia

It's obvious that it's the older generation that will benefit most from medicinal marijuana. Young people smoke marijuana joints or bongs mainly for recreational purposes. If grandma suffers from Alzheimer's, should she be encouraged to smoke pot? If grandpa has stage 4 cancer, should he consider marijuana as an option to treat his cancer? The documentary below provides answers to these questions and others as well.

By the way, as shown in the video "Should Grandma Smoke Pot?", there are other more palatable ways to take marijuana - in cookies, candies and chocolates. There are probably recipes for marijuana fried rice, omelette and soups. Add marijuana tea to the list as well. I wouldn't mind a cup or two the next time I find myself in Venice Beach, LA again... 

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Photo grab from The Sunday Star, 25 August 2013
Our walk down Memory Lane continues with more nostalgia from the music of decades ago. With just a week before we celebrate Malaysia's 56th Independence Day on 31 August, let's look at some of the songs that all of us older Malaysians are familiar with, and have enjoyed listening and singing along to. Here are some of my personal favorites, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Sheila Majid, Malaysia's Queen of Jazz and R&B. 'Sinaran' and 'Lagenda' are two of my favorite Sheila Majid songs.

Zainal Abidin made it big with 'Hijau', Malaysia's first 'green' song.

I used to love listening to this song by Zaiton Sameon. Her budding singing career went into decline after a major road accident in 1990. Tragic.

Another of my favourite Malay songs sung by the enigmatic Jamal Abdillah.

A singalong song from the movie "Bujang Lapok" from the legendary P.Ramlee. His demise was a huge loss to the local entertainment industry, and to Malaysians.

My all-time favorite Malaysian entertainer - Sudirman. I was at the Chow Kit Road concert in 1986 where he sang from atop a crane to the thousands who packed the entire street to see him. Awesome!

Man Bai didn't have that many hit songs to his name. This is one that his fans will remember.

'Isabella' from, Search, one of Malaysia's longest-surviving rock bands from the 1980s.

I hope you have enjoyed this small selection of my favorite songs by Malay artistes . Did they bring back some happy memories for you? For more of the 56 songs that made it to Malaysia's Timeless Tunes, click here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Straits Times 21 Aug 2013

Not everyone finds walking down memory lane a pleasant stroll. For some people, it can be a painful one, filled with remembrances that are best left buried and forgotten. But to others, reminiscing on treasured memories brings joy and contentment.

Life has ups and downs, peaks and valleys. We have all been through both good and bad times. We can choose to remember the happy moments, or focus on negative past experiences that leave us feeling bitter. So which will it be? The answer is obvious, yet there are people who choose to remember only the bad times.

The Dept of Psychology at North Dakota State University conducted a 10-year laboratory research on the effects of nostalgia on people. The results published recently showed that nostalgia is good for people. To quote Associate Professor Clay Routledge of the research team, "Nostalgia increases positive mood, self-esteem, feelings of social connectedness, and perceptions of meaning in life...Nostalgia is not about living in the past, it is utilising the past to help with struggles in the present." 

You can read the full article here. Interesting.

When old friends get together, they reminisce on the good old days and enjoy a hearty laugh at fond memories. It is a shared experience that brings joy as they recall those memories, rather than regret that those days are gone. That's why we look forward to class reunions, family gatherings and anniversary celebrations. Whether it is a small informal get-together at a friend's house or a gala class reunion at a hotel, we enjoy reviving the camaraderie of former school days. We laugh as we recall the silly schoolboy pranks that we played on our classmates and teachers. If laughter is the best medicine, such occasions can only invigorate us and improve our well-being.

Looking through old photos and remembering special moments in time
The poster says it all - "A Reunion of Timeless Treasures"

When we are alone, reflecting on the past puts a smile on our face. I would rather dwell on cherished memories such as my first date or my solo trip to Kathmandu in 1976, rather than make myself miserable by dwelling on my first break-up or the time when I was hospitalized.

Nostalgia can be an effective tool against negative emotions. By remembering times when we were happy, we have the psychological strength to move forward and find meaning in life. We banish doubts about whether life is worth living.

So with that in mind, let's celebrate nostalgia. Come, walk down memory lane with me as we re-visit much-loved memories from our growing up years.

When we feel lonely, going through albums of old family photos is a great way to open the flood gates of treasured memories, and trigger feel-good endorphins.

My dad's side of the family tree with my grandma in the centre, and my dad looking dapper right behind her. My great grandma is next to my grandma. I am in the front row, second from right. Four generations in this photo circa early 1950s. 

Children's photos always bring smiles to grandparents. Max, 8, and Reiya, 2, (above) in Jan 2008, and in Aug 2013. Children grow so fast. Before you know it, they are all grown up and you have only photos to remember them when they were little.

Music from the good old days is another endorphin booster. Baby boomers will remember listening to the long-running radio programs Britain's Top of the Pops and Casey Kasem's American Top 40. With YouTube we can now watch thousands of music videos of our favorite singers and bands from yesteryears.

If you haven't checked out Playa Cofi Jukebox of oldies music, please do so. Seniorsaloud has been promoting this music channel since 2008 (see Jukebox Hits in side column). It was started by a group of retirees who wanted to share their love of music from their era. A very impressive collection of top hits from the 1950s to the 1980s, from pop to classical and every genre in between.

If old movies are your cup of tea, there are plenty to choose from on YouTube - from full-length classics like Charlie Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator' (above) to P. Ramlee's 1964 'Madu Tiga' (below) which won the Best Comedy at the 11th Asian Film Festival held in Taipei. 

There are websites devoted to heritage as well as publications that take one on paths to revisit familiar places and people. One of the sites I like is I remember SG facebook. Check out the photos posted there.

Do you remember this poster below of hair length for men? I had friends who donned wigs just to get through Singapore immigration in the 1960s. Lee Kuan Yew's government probably viewed long hair in men as a sign of protest and rebellion. Those were the hippie days of 'Make Love, Not War' and flower power.

Photo credit: Alvin Cheah; Source:

If you grew up in Kuala Lumpur, you would remember Merdeka Park. It was a popular hang-out for both the young and the old in the 1960s and 70s. The elderly would gather there early in the morning for tai-chi exercises; parents would take their children there to play on weekends, and young couples would go there for romantic strolls in the evenings.

Today the park and the surrounding area have been ear-marked as the site for the 118-storey Menara Warisan. Rakan KL, a small but vocal group of concerned citizens hopes to gather enough support to protect heritage sites like Mederka Park for the people. If you are interested, join them this Saturday, 24 Aug, 1pm-3.30pm, at KLSCAH (1, Jln Maharajalela) for a Peoples’ Dialogue session on: 'Preservation and Revitalization of National Historical Heritage & Public Space'.

Reading old love letters can be a therapeutic
All these aside, we can spend happy hours going through our treasure chest of cherished items. Each item stirs up warm memories of special moments in the past. Old birthday cards, past Christmas presents, children's baby clothes, gifts from ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends, commemorative magazines, souvenirs from our travels, and love letters that we still keep - all these make up the sum total of our life experiences. They bear testimony of certain episodes in our lives that we want to hold onto because they are of special significance and meaning to us.

Some retirement homes set aside a special room for a 'Memory Museum' where items such as old records, sewing machines, toys and other vintage paraphernalia are displayed. These items become conversation pieces as residents chat about these mementos of the past. This helps slow down memory loss in those with early dementia or Alzheimer's.

If you love all things old and antique, do pay a visit to TIME TUNNEL in Cameron Highlands. For an admission fee of RM5, you will be temporarily transported to a bygone era when Green Spot Orange was more popular than Coca-Cola, and housewives used wooden boards to scrub dirty laundry as electric washing machines were yet to be invented. A must-visit place on our to-do list aka bucket list.

For more info on how to get there, go to

So here's a toast to nostalgia. May we never forget old friends, old places and old memories for they all occupy a special corner in our hearts. They help shape us into who we are today.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Looking Beyond The Symbols Of Wealth
by Dr Ansgar Cheng

I was born in a very prosperous city during its uptrend era and lived in Hong Kong during its rapid economic expansion. It was and still is a place filled with people, tons of opportunities, abundant ideas, plenty of upward energy, never-ending traffic jams, flooded with newspapers and other information sources. People there are forever hungry for the next best thing.

My family is reaching the end of our first decade of living in Asia. Living in Singapore is an extra-ordinary experience. Singapore is amazing in that it has almost perpetual sunshine and an excellent education system that my family members are grateful and happy to be active participants of. This is a rather sharp contrast to the 13-year experiences that my wife and I had when we were living in North America.

Home front
Many people long for a landed property in Singapore. In many places, landed properties are commonly referred to as houses. On the one hand, people in Hong Kong have close to a zero concept of this ‘landed’ property idea. With probably over 97% of the Hong Kong population living in high-rise buildings, the only people who live in ‘landed’ homes are either the mega-rich or those who are at the other end of the economic scale. A westerner friend once quipped: Aren’t all properties built on land anyway?

Usually houses offer a liberal amount of living space. Price tag aside, living in a house requires a lot of maintenance work that my family does not fancy anyone doing on our behalf, and that we don’t relish doing ourselves.

Working in a hospital environment, I have realized that space is needed to function but excessive space is actually counterproductive. Imagine an emergency patient has to cover a long distance to reach the front door of the emergency department. That is precious time wasted. In Chinese, these may be regarded as“fengshui” but in our modern world this is something simply called ergonomics. Excess is not necessarily better.

If I can easily reach and get most things in my apartment, why would I want a house that is full of space?

Lifestyle - Life in a Style? 
It was a coincidence that I ran into an old friend shortly after I moved to the USA for my residency training. In American terms, residency training means that one has to stay on for a period of time, usually for a few years, in order to complete an in-depth training in a given clinical specialty.

We were chatting away and this friend was telling me that spending extra time in a specialty training program was not a great idea for him as it would compromise his ‘lifestyle’.Well, pardon my ignorance, this term ‘lifestyle’ was totally alien to me at that point of time in life.

I was born in a working class family - my mother was an excellent housewife while my father was running his own little businesses with 3 days off every year. My parents ate simple and had a simple daily routine. My idea of life strategy was simply a biosphere of work surrounding a core of life where there was no room for this lifestyle idea. However, as time passes, I have started to realize that to many people, ‘lifestyle’ means ‘life in a style’, which many times is translated into high expenses in travel, clothing, food, and housing.

From point A to point B 
When I was doing my specialty training at UCLA, I had the honor of being taken under the wings of a world famous professor in dental implantology. His invention in the field, the UCLA abutment, is used by numerous dental implant clinicians, whether they know it or not, on an everyday basis. In short, he was successful, famous and no doubt, financially well off as he had been living in the Beverly Hills area for many years. He first made a name for himself when was 37 year-old, and he was barely 50 when I was his resident.

On a weekly basis, we needed to go to other hospitals for rounds. As I was new to Los Angeles, this world famous professor kindly drove me to those hospitals in a beat-up rusty brown Japanese van! Years later, he sadly told me that the van was eventually scrapped after collecting close to a million miles on the odometer.

In Singapore, the public transportation system can reach most places within 45 minutes from point A to point B. Our family of four enjoys life in the city without feeling ‘deprived’ that we do not own a car. Nowadays, my little girls in primary school cannot believe that their parents actually have a valid driving license! It is outside their reality!

It is mine 
People should have the right to do what they want with the things that they own. That is, providing the ownership is really there. Capitalism dictates that for the transfer of goods and services, there is a following monetary exchange. In aggregate, the money is being held in kind in between transactions.

However, there is a system of ‘free’ exchange that has been around for millions of years.Butterflies and bees have been pollinating flowers for free for years. Their pay out was to have more flowers for the following generations to enjoy. The insects apparently show no ownership mentality and they have little interest to consume more simply because they have pollinated more flowers on a good summer day.

Mankind temporarily owns a piece of the world and we call this our net worth. In the parable of talents in the Bible, our talent was allocated according to individual abilities and we are supposed to do something about it for others. Our worldly worth, which commonly is indexed with numbers, is probably to do something for mankind at large too.

Less may be indeed more. Excesses may not necessarily lead to more happiness but it is certainly harder to sustain from one high to another.

Our children have never had the traditional birthday parties with friends coming over, and with clowns and magicians to provide the entertainment. My wife and I have always considered the inevitable deluge of gifts to be poor economic allocation. Most kids would be so overwhelmed with the large number of presents received that the gifts may not be appreciated as much. That being said, we have always ensured that our girls know they are cherished, and we celebrate birthdays in a family setting with a special gift. When they were younger, we also had cupcakes and tiny goodie bags at the day care centre, but that was the extent of the celebrations.

On the subject of children, we also tend to be minimalist about children’s toys. We have been blessed to have hand-me-downs from relatives with older kids, so our two girls have never lacked for toys, books and clothing (even until now when they are 9 and 10 years old respectively). We have taught the girls to happily walk into a toy store to play with the toys and to equally cheerfully say good bye to the toys as we left without purchasing one for them. Books, rather than dolls, are their favourite companion, although they do have some dolls and soft toys at home.

Wish list 
I am not so sure how many things I want in life. However, I am absolutely sure that there is one thing I certainly can do without – that is a complicated life.

One time, an octogenerian was asked about his secret to longevity, he calmly quipped: “I figured out where I am going to die, and I have never been there since.” Deep down we probably all know what our basic needs are in life. However, it is probably not so clear about the volume of our wish list.

Being a very risk adverse person, I don’t really want to get things in life which I don’t need because I am worried that someday, I may have to sell the things I need to finance those wants. As Murphy’s law dictates, these things always happen to show up at the wrong time in life. The meek should be blessed but I really have no idea what to do if I have the earth all to myself.

I am content.

Dr Ansgar Cheng is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore and a Director & Prosthodontist with Specialist Dental Group. He is the usual recipient of his wife’s hand-me-down phones. The Cheng family zip around Singapore via buses, MRT or taxis and walk their kids to school.

(This article first appeared in the August-Sept 2013 issue of IMPACT Magazine. For more articles with the focus on spiritual values, concern for family, positive life-style, and civic consciousness, please click here.)

Related article:

A Simple Life - The Root of Sensible Living

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Hogewey is a gated model village specially designed for dementia patients

After watching Dr Sanjay Gupta's documentary "Dementia Village" last Saturday night on CNN, my first thought was - if only there was such a village in Malaysia or Singapore!

In a speech at the 3rd Singapore International Neurocognitive Symposium, 5 April 2013, Singapore's Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, said that the country currently has about 28,000 elderly aged 60 years and above with dementia, and this is expected to more than double to 80,000 by 2030.

Figures for England and Wales
Singapore isn't alone in this. With global ageing, countries are seeing a huge rise in the number of people with dementia. The World Health Organization reports that worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia. This number is expected to rise to 65.7 million by 2030, and more than triple to 115.4 million by 2050.

While most countries are still focusing on awareness, prevention and care-giving, the Netherlands has moved far ahead with new concepts on housing and lifestyles for those with dementia. In 2010 I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Dr Hans Becker, who heads the Humanitas Foundation. That was the first time I heard about his 'Apartments for Life'. Housing developers, including those in Singapore and Malaysia, are incorporating some of the features in their new projects.

Now there is Hogewey, a gated village of 23 houses, with each reflecting a certain lifestyle that the residents are accustomed to or wish to enjoy. Opened in December 2009, Hogewey has drawn worldwide attention for its innovative approach to providing dementia patients with a sense of 'living in the real world'. The village has its own shops, restaurants, theatres - just like in any village. The only difference is that no money exchanges hands. And of course, all the residents have dementia, with many in the advanced stage.

Dr Sanjay shares the five things he learned from his visit to Hogewey. Click here to read. And do watch the video to find out more about this Dementia Village.

In Malaysia, although we do have a residential care centre specifically for dementia patients, it is no way close to what Hogewey offers. Still, I am happy to have discovered Dementia Homecare Centre in Teluk Panglima Garang for my mother. She is happy with the place. It is clean and well-maintained. The staff have nursing experience and qualifications. Best of all, there is a daily schedule of activities, incorporating exercises, singing, and games. My only complaint is the name. Surely the directors can come up with something more inspiring.

You can read more about this homecare centre at the link below.

A Home Sweet Home for My Mom

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Is it possible to spend a day sightseeing in downtown Kuala Lumpur on only RM10, inclusive of lunch? I set myself this challenge and chose the second day of Hari Raya to find out. With most KL folks either back in their hometown celebrating the festive occasion, or away on vacation, I could avoid all the traffic congestion and pollution.

Unfortunately the day started out with an overcast sky. Not great for photography, but being an eternal optimist, I silently prayed for blue skies and bright sunshine later in the afternoon. Alas, it was not to be, as you can see from the photos.

Here's my inner city tour in pictures.

Got off the bus here at Jalan Munshi Abdullah (Campbell Road). An improvement in the bus shelters. From here I explored the Masjid India back lanes on foot. Only four days ago when I was passing through, the entire area was packed with last minute Raya shoppers.
Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman or Batu Road where Globe Silk Store still stands. All quiet and deserted. A people-friendly street with broad sidewalks and benches.
I love bridges for many reasons. Here's the first one at Maju Junction where Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman (Batu Road) meets Jalan Sultan Ismail (Treacher Road).
Turn left on the bridge and you are connected to Jalan Raja Laut (Broadrick Road) further up.
Turn right and you go towards Jalan Ampang. I decided to take this direction.
It was a long walk to the monorail station at the end of the bridge. A scary thought flashed through my mind. What if I encountered a couple of guys here out to cause trouble? 
I got off the bridge and walked towards Jalan Ampang. Many of the city streets have covered walkways like this one. Several massive construction projects along the way. A building boom? 
Took the shuttle bus near Concorde Hotel. It goes to Bukit Bintang. These shuttle buses are a blessing to city commuters. Check the maps below and try out Go-KL. It's FREE!

These escalators are great for tired feet. But how would those in wheelchairs get up these steps?

Clean and bright, as all bridges should be. This leads to Pavilion, Malaysia's award-winning mall.
Walking towards the 'back' entrance of Pavilion along Jalan Raja Chulan (Jalan Weld)
The streets may be deserted but the malls and food courts were swarming with thousands of shoppers, especially families enjoying the holiday with their children in tow. Here's where I had my lunch, a very expensive one, to my dismay. The details later.
Overcast sky. From Pavilion, I took the shuttle bus down to Kota Raya (Chinatown area). This place has been transformed with new buildings and bridges. But the chaos remains. This is the terminal for several stage buses.
UTC probably stands for Urban Transformation Centre (Pusat Transformasi Bandar) I was stopped from taking photographs as I stood outside the building. Wonder why? Of course, I didn't bother to enter.
This bridge across Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (Foch Avenue) gets my vote for the filthiest overhead bridge in the city, no thanks to the foreign blue collar workers who have made this downtown area their shopping haven. For more pictures, go to 'Foreign invasion of downtown KL'.
The bridge reeks of urine and is littered with used bottles, cans and old newspapers. On normal days, beggars line the sides. This man probably spent the night here sleeping on pieces of cardboard. 
Beggars and vagabonds are a familiar sight in Kota Raya (Chinatown) and Pasar Seni (Central Market) areas. Take care of your valuables, and be on the alert for pickpockets.
Chinatown is fast losing its cultural identity. The stalls here are almost entirely run by Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Myanmarese. Jalan Tun HS Lee used to be known as High Street during the colonial days.
The Klang bus terminal of the old days is gone. The new terminal is nearing completion. Work is in progress on the MRT station nearby. Long line of mostly foreign workers waiting to board the bus.
No, I'm not planning to take the train - just to show you more bridges and take more photos of the area along the Klang River. By the way, this is the only station where you can apply for your senior citizen (warga emas) travel card. You get to enjoy 50% off fares on RapidKL buses, monorail and trains on the Ampang and Kelana Jaya lines. Not sure if it's applicable for KTM.
The link bridge at Pasar Seni LRT station. At the far end, you can either turn right or left.
Turn left, and you can walk all the way across the river to the old railway station along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin. Anyone knows the old name of this street?
Turn right and you go towards Dayabumi, Malaysia's first skyscraper (35 storeys) built in 1984, and Dataran Merdeka, the city's Independence Square. There's a covered walkway on the right, but it is yet to be open to the public.
The bustling Pasar Seni area, teeming with people and traffic seven days a week. 
From Pasar Seni LRT station, I boarded the shuttle bus again back to the same bus-stop I had got off earlier along Jalan Raja Chulan. And it's up the bridge again. You can see a part of it in the photo above. 
This time I took the left turn to KL Convention Centre. Going straight would take me back again to Pavilion. I decided to skip Bukit Bintang as the sky looked threatening.

This part of the bridge leading to KLCC is fully air-conditioned and well-lit. You can go to all these places listed on the signboard (starting from Wisma UOA on the signboard below).

Finally, it's out to KLCC Park and the Dewan Philharmonic. Lots of people posing for photos. Problem for them - how to capture all 88 storeys of the Petronas Twin Towers with their tiny digital cameras or mobile phones?.
Avenue K, opposite KLCC, is getting more than just a face-lift. Hopefully with big names like Starbucks, H&M and Popular coming in as tenants, Avenue K will see a reversal of fortune.
From KLCC, I walked to Ampang Park LRT station, passing Wisma MCA on the way. Some positive changes at the station, including a new and improved bus-stop, a covered walkway and a small park nearby. Opposite is Ampang Park. Built in 1973, it is the oldest shopping complex in the country.
At RM15 million, this is probably the most expensive link bridge in the city built by City Hall and the Intermark. It was opened in late March 2013.

The bridge boasts up and down escalators and is equipped with bright lights as well as six CCTVs. Guards are on sentry duty from 7am to 10pm daily. Pedestrians feel safe using this bridge.
As I was walking back to the bus-stop to catch the bus home, this tour bus passed by. For a RM45 ticket, you can get a tour of the city attractions, valid for 24 hours. An option for tourists who prefer to sit in comfort and be driven around the city.

I reached home after an entire afternoon exploring the sights and sounds of Kuala Lumpur. How much did it cost me? Did I meet the challenge of spending not more than RM10? Well, yes and no. Let me explain.

I made a huge mistake when I stopped for lunch at Food Republic, Pavilion. As I had a tight budget, I chose to eat simple - a plate of rice with some long beans and a small fish (see photo below). I estimated it would cost no more than RM8. When the cashier told me my plate of food cost RM17.50, I could only stare at her in disbelief. The breakdown: RM12 for the fish, RM3.50 for the beans and RM2.00 for the rice. What a rip-off!

Would you pay RM17.50 for this? I did, but never again. Never again will I patronize this particular food outlet. Play it safe. Order food that has the price listed. I have posted this photo on my FB page.

If I consider the fare alone, I had spent well below my limit of RM10. So how much was my total bus fare? Brace yourself as you won't believe this - a paltry RM2.50. If I had not been so forgetful and had brought along my warga emas card, it would have cost me only RM1.40! And if I had eaten a RM7.90 bowl of laksa for lunch, or better still, had my lunch in Pasar Seni or Chinatown, I would have spent less than RM10 in all. Lessons learned.

Here some tips for those who would like to do a similar walkabout in the city.
  • Bring a hat and an umbrella. Blue skies can change to thunderstorms within minutes. 
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes or sandals.
  • Make sure you have a large bottle of water. The weight will offload as you drink along the way. Stay hydrated.
  • Carry minimal stuff, only essentials and pack everything either in a backpack or a sling bag (across the shoulder). This keeps your hands free to take photos, and your belongings more secure. Just remember to swing your bag to the front when in crowded places.
  • Take your toilet breaks at the shopping malls and LRT stations along the way. Shun other public toilets like the plague.
  • Be on the alert for pickpockets, especially in downtown Kota Raya-Chinatown area.

So there you have it. It is possible to do a tour of the city on a shoestring. There are covered walkways, pedestrian crossings and link bridges that makes it safe and convenient to walk along the city streets. It also helps that shuttle buses provide free transport within the main city areas.

All in all, my little trip covered KLCC, Ampang Park, Pavilion, Chinatown, Kota Raya, Pasar Seni and Masjid India. If I had wanted, I could have included Bukit Bintang (Sungei Wang, Lot 10) and Dataran Merdeka at no extra cost.

If you have any queries about my city walkabout, do send me an email at