Visit Malaysia: Pre-War Buildings of Kuala Kubu Bharu, Hulu Selangor

Some people love to take the usual route, going to places where the names had been established. For some, going to unknown territory is like a suicidal mission, as there is a possibility to be killed by boredom or worst, the place does not meet one’s expectation. With that in mind, I exempt myself from having any expectation whatsoever when I told my family that we were going to Kuala Kubu Bharu.

The town of Kuala Kubu Bharu, fondly called as KKB.
The town centre of Kuala Kubu Bharu. So relax, even on a weekend.
The only cinema in town has now been converted into a snooker centre due to the lack of demand from movie goers.

Of course, when I said Kuala Kubu Bharu, a small town situated on the northernmost district of the state of Selangor, the usual enquiry will be: “What do they have there?“. I just told my family that there are ‘old buildings’ which is good for photography but I stopped short of saying ‘but don’t compare it to Melaka’.

READ ABOUT THE TRAIN RIDE TO KKB HERE

If only I had said so, maybe I could have lowered my family member’s expectation of the town, just as how I decided not to have any expectation prior to going there. After all, Melaka is full with colonial buildings but Kuala Kubu Bharu [KKB] is full with pre-war buildings.

One of the pre-war buildings in KKB. Notice that buildings in those era has the name of the building being carved out of the wall.
The oldest Indian barber shop in KKB.

If you asked me personally, which one is better, colonial or pre-war, it would be hard to answer. Both have historical values but the major distinction is that the colonial buildings were built by our colonizer, something that I don’t think we were supposed to be proud of, apart from its historical value. Instead, pre-war buildings are buildings that were mostly built by the locals and showing the culture or architectural design of that period of time.

Saloon doors. No longer exist in modern style buildings.
Five foot ways, typical of Malaysia in the early years.
Wooden windows of the police station.
Old police lockups.

So, upon reaching the KKB town and having our lunch, we wandered aimlessly around the town. I snapped photos and photos of the town. I am attracted towards the design of the shop houses, with the five foot ways, the old windows, saloon doors. All of these features are no longer used in modern buildings.

Kuala Kubu Bharu, a forgotten old town.
Characteristics of pre-war buildings in Malaysia, also found in KKB.

KKB is a small town located in the district of Hulu Selangor. From the bare eyes, it looks like a sleepy town. In fact, when we visited there, human activities were very scarce and it was awkwardly quiet, despite being the capital town of the district. Nevertheless, this town has a very rich history.

KKB is one of the oldest garden towns in Malaysia.

Previously, the name of the town was Kuala Kubu and it was located at another place. When a dam broke and flooded the whole town, the town was moved to the current place, hence the name Kuala Kubu ‘Bharu’ or ‘New’ Kuala Kubu. So, the buildings were built again from scratch with local elements injected in the design. This town is also famous as one of the true ‘garden town’. Flowers were planted at a lot of places and they were so colourful.

Previously, that door was on par with the road. But years and years of paving had caused the difference in the level.
The different levels between the lane and the building due to paving jobs.

As I walked further, I saw a clock tower erected beside the police station on top of the hill. I walked closer to the clock tower and saw the deco motif: it was built to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in the 1930s. It looked abandoned, the clock was not working, but this clock tower is for sure a monument of history.

The clock tower, overlooking the town.
Only time will tell when this town will be totally forgotten.

In fact, the whole buildings here are monuments of history.

*****

Kuala Kubu Bharu is a town 60km north of Kuala Lumpur. To get here by train from Kuala Lumpur, take the train at KL Sentral station, heading towards Rawang. At Rawang station, change to the Rawang-Tanjung Malim shuttle train service. The train leaves every one hour or so and it takes around 30 minutes from Rawang station to Kuala Kubu Bharu station.

At the Kuala Kubu Bharu station, taxis and private cars are available to the town centre. Normal fixed price is RM 5-RM 6. Haggling is encouraged. 

This article is also featured in Virtual Malaysia. Click here to visit the #1 Malaysia Social Travel Channel!

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