Kuala Lumpur - a city that never seems to sleep

Kuala Lumpur, a city that was built in the middle of the jungle with the highest twin towers in the world. It is a multi-cultural melting pot with a young population with an average age of 28 years old. Malays, Chinese, Indians and many more are at home in KL as the locals call their city. 8 million people live in the metropolitan area, 1.7 million of which in the centre.
photo: arte documentary

Even though the state religion of Malaysia is Islam, the city is home to many cultures and religions who live side by side. Almost half of KL’s residents are muslims. A third of the residents are buddhist. They don’t only live in Chinatown but all over the city in all classes of society. 9% of the population are Hindus, their culture can be best observed in Little India in Brickfields. Besides mosques, buddhist and Hindu template, there are also christian churches, sometimes even next to each other. Besides that there are tens of thousands of guest workers in countries like Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmore and others and, of course, tourists from all over the world.

Kuala Lumpur is a city of many contrasts. The name of the city means in malay “muddy estuary”.  It was founded by tin miners in the middle of the jungle in the 19th century. The village become a town and the town become a modern mega city in the last few decades with an ever-growing skyscrapers. In 1957 KL become the capital. The city went through rapid changes and time travellers would hardly recognize the city from what it was in the 1970ies.

lake titiwangsa
Lake Titiwangsa
photo: arte documentary "Kuala Lumpur - Magic Cities", 2017

KL was under british rule at the end of the 19th century when some of the impressive colonial structures in the city were build like the old railway station or the buildings around Merdeka Square.

Merdeka Square
Merderka Square
the heart of the old colonial city centre
photo: arte documentary "Kuala Lumpur - Magic Cities", 2017

While city planners try preserve the “green character” of the city, any green in the city is now artificial, except for Bukit Nanas, the hill where the KL Tower is built on, which contains the only virgin tropical rainforest left in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Also the Bird Park inside the Lake Gardens tries to preserve original vegetation inside the city and hosts more than 3000 local and foreign birds.

Lake Gardens
Lake Gardens, the green lung of the city center, home to the KL Bird Park and many other attractions
photo: arte documentary "Kuala Lumpur - Magic Cities", 2017

Kampung Baru
Old and new
The Kampung Baru village and the impressive KL skyline behind it.
photo: arte documentary "Kuala Lumpur - Magic Cities", 2017

Kampung Baru, mainly built in 40s and 60s,  is the last rural area in the city centre, a village with the backdrop of the modern skyscrapers. The urban village was spared from the developments of industrialisation so far.

KL at night
night sets over Kuala Lumpur, and the city of lights appears
photo: arte documentary "Kuala Lumpur - Magic Cities", 2017

In the evening many areas of the city come to life once more. Life doesn’t calm down, on the contrary. The temperatures drop and little and the sun sets around 7pm. Kuala Lumpur at night has its own appeal. Especially the Petronas Twin Towers have magical glow and fascinate everyone. The mostly lively district is Bukit Bintang, here KL is an open, tolerant and cosmopolitan city.  A significant clubbing scene has established on the Changkat Bukit Bintang. Nowhere else Malaysia is this liberated and open.