Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shah Alam The City - At The Cusp of Discovery

The Blue Mosque taken from the front lawn of a deserted tourist information center.

Shah Alam is a young city. Established as Malaysia’s first planned city in 1963, it was granted state capital status in December of 1978 – replacing Kuala Lumpur as the state of Selangor’s capital when KL became part of the federal territory and the country’s capital. Lying in the Klang Valley west of KL, and some 2 hours away by train, this relatively new city is divided into 56 sections (counties).

There are hardly any write-ups about Shah Alam and the few that a tourist gets spotlights – almost exclusively - the
Blue Mosque. Having said this, I visited Shah Alam intent on discovering more than just the famed mosque. After all, my previous visits to other Malaysian cities have continuously surprised me. They were progressive and urban; they were clean and tourist friendly. More importantly, they were accessible. Shah Alam is no different.

Shah Alam’s commercial hub is mostly situated at the city center – sections 13, 14 and 9, and I found myself walking around, mentally taking down notes. There were hotels and commercial complexes, amazing architecture surrounding the city. From the Blue Mosque, I wandered on foot – from the Park Grounds and lake side, the museum, then ventured around the malls – SACC Mall, Anggerik Mall, Kompleks PKNS, Shah Alam Sentral Mall (these 4 stand within the same vicinity). Further ahead is the Independence Square and the Plaza Perangsang. 

Just across the Blue Mosque is the behemoth Shah Alam Stadium which can accommodate 80,000 people – the nation’s 2nd biggest sports stadium. Wet World Water Park is a bit out of the city center – you’ll pass it on your KTM Komuter bus ride from the train station to the city center. Education seems to be a major priority in this state. There are several primary and secondary schools around the city (19 high schools and 33 elementary schools) giving Shah Alam a vibrant youthful vibe. Taxis and buses are numerous, although there were hardly any pedestrians walking around as I was roaming the city. Where are the people, I kept asking myself.

Kompleks PKNS Mall

Museum Sultan Alam Shah - open daily except Mondays, 9:30-12:15PM then 2:45-5:30PM. Free admission.

Being a planned city, Shah Alam has the advantage of sprawling space and access. City streets have provisions for bus stops, street lamps, adequate pedestrian walks and passage ways, etc. From a first-time visitor’s vantage point, everything is well developed and the city rides on a bustling economy.

If I wasn’t rushing on getting back to KL to catch my night flight to Dhaka, I would have loved to explore Shah Alam further. I’d probably be back in Malaysia before the year ends, so if you are from Shah Alam and you’re willing to show me more of Shah Alam the way a local resident knows of it,
I’d welcome an invite. Haha. Would be interesting to roam this city with a friendly soul – for a change.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Children's playground - but where are the children?

Anggerik Mall - a three-blocks walk from the back of the May Bank bus stop.

Partially occupied Anggerik Mall.

Ceiling of the Anggerik Mall - this is mostly peppered with textile shops. I could count the people inside.

The posh SACC Mall where I bought 6 dvds from Video Ezy.

Local residents queueing for bus cards.

SACC Mall dome ceiling.

A huge bouquet adorns the entrance of the SACC Mall.

Flowers on hanging pots decorate the streets.

Independence Square just across the Shah Alam Sentral Mall

Dataran Shah Alam

Shah Alam Theater just across the sprawling grounds of the Blue Mosque's park gardens and lake. Someone pointed out my earlier mislabeling (see comment below).

A coffee shop in Plaza Alam Mall - just across is a street where a mini-bus waits for passengers to a train station. Apparently the wrong station for those heading back to KL. This was the Klang train station, which is almost an hour away from Shah Alam. I asked the bus driver if this was headed towards the Shah Alam train station. Idiot that he was, he nodded. So I lost an hour - and I had a night flight to catch back in KL.

To get to Shah Alam from KL, check out this earlier blog post -


Anonymous said...

the photo u tag as shah alam stadium is actually shah alam theater

eye in the sky said...

I love it when things I missed are pointed out to me. I sometimes assume stuff that I must have misread from a map. Thank you for the correction.