SNAPSHOTS: Asia Photo Essay #17: BERJALAN DATARAN MERDEKA

On our first day in Kuala Lumpur, my friends and I had a chill stroll around the Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square) area to observe the local city life, see what the tourists are up to, and visit a couple of museums.

Not so long ago, I had the chance to travel to Malaysia with a group of friends. Having traveled to a Southeast Asian city outside the Philippines is a dream come true for me since I want to visit as many of them as possible. If you’ve been reading articles in this blog from time to time, you might been getting the idea that I love Southeast Asia to death.

Kuala Lumpur did not surprise me so much, but don’t get me wrong, I had the best experience traveling with friends in this city. I love the food scene, I love the Manila-like cityscapes, and I love that it’s a melting pot of different cultures, just ike Singapore.

One afternoon, we decided to walk around Merdeka Square (as our cab driver has described, it’s the place “where tourists usually go”). I was able to appreciate some remnants of the British colonial rule, the differences of its culture with the Philippines, and how Malaysia could be like any other city that responds to the demands of globalization.

Dataran Merdeka
KLCC PARK. From our accommodation at ViPod Residences in KLCC, we took a walk around the vicinity to go sightseeing before hopping on a cab going to Merdeka Square. I was excited to take street shots because I’m more comfortable and more creative if I’m in another city making photographs than when I’m in my own homeland. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that since the Philippines is so familiar to me and I see all the usual sights every single day, I underappreciate their beauty and therefore not really give much attention to them. I’m always obsessed about traveling outside and seeing fresh destination, but I tend to forget that my own ‘backyard’ has its own beauty.
Dataran Merdeka
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT. A detour at a bank for a small errand has led us to observe the vicinity of the corporate area of Kuala Lumpur. Just like any other business district in Asia, you will encounter workers dressed in a typical Western corporate attire because they are working in an airconditioned office in a high-rise building despite having a very hot humid Southeast Asian weather outside. Walking around her feels very much like walking around the Makati Central Business District in Manila.
Dataran Merdeka
THE INTERSECTION. Traffic officers are very well-dressed and controlling the flow of the vehicles at the intersection of the Merdeka Square area. Just like any other Southeast Asian big city, Kuala Lumpur traffic could get crazy with all the vehicles especially during rush hour. I honestly can no longer remember how I ended up taking this photo, but I love how it depicts a busy scene and lots of movements. I don’t know about you, but I’m also hearing the noise of the road in this photograph. The part of Sultan Abdul Samad Building by the background gave the photo an even more interesting texture.
Dataran Merdeka
THE FOUNTAIN IS OFF. Had they turned on this fountain, it could make a perfect shot with the Sultan Abdul Samad Building at the background, but it’s totally fine. Adding an element of people inside the frame can usually add life to a photo. Street photography is known to have lots of people walking inside the frame, but most of the time they are not the subject of the photo.
Dataran Merdeka
THE INTERSECTION, AGAIN, DESATURATED, THIS TIME. As the sun kept on moving the whole afternoon, one corner of the area is expected to look differently at a certain interval. Now that the sun is about to set in this time, I made it a point to go back to the intersection, this time in another corner, to take a shot of the possible new shadows and exposures that the current direction of the sun provides. It’s still a busy and noisy road.
Dataran Merdeka
A NOT-SO-CROWDED SQUARE. There were only a few people at Dataran Merdeka during the time of our visit — mostly locals, a few tourists, including our group. As I saw a lady just sitting quietly at the square, I can’t help but think about how come I find it so hard to slow down at life. I’m living life everyday exhausting myself so much and always figuring out the next big thing. I want to go to lots of places. I want to achieve lots of things. I want to buy whatever I want. I can’t even manage to try doing what this lady is doing. I feel like it’s a waste of time because I only have a limited time in KL, so might as well go to as many places as I can. But, the good news is, fast forward to the time you’re reading it, I already learned how to slow down in life. Thank you, COVID-19.
Dataran Merdeka
THE ICONIC FACADE. Across Dataran Merdeka is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building where you can literally see how the former colonial rule influenced the building’s architecture and how it defines the present-day Kuala Lumpur. The building looks very stunning! While I want to take a perfect shot of the building, my noob photography skills did not allow me to. But hey, I love this shot.
dataran merdeka
BLANK (AND GREEN) SPACES. We all know that the concrete jungle which is Metro Manila was not gifted with an open green space this wide, so having something like this in the city of Kuala Lumpur at the Dataran Merdeka is a huge deal.

Feel free to check out hotels in Kuala Lumpur at agoda.com.

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