A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #13

Kuala Lumpur comprises several areas that were formerly small towns in their own right. One of the more vibrant towns was Pudu. It was connected to Kuala Lumpur town centre in the old days via Pudoh Street which was subsequently renamed Pudu Road in 1960. Today, we know it as Jalan Pudu.

Jalan Pudu begins in the former heart of Kuala Lumpur, near Chinatown where Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jalan Tun Perak converge. The older folk know these roads by their colonial names, Mountbatten Road and Foch Avenue respectively.

The names of these roads indicate their significance – and the prominence of this site – in the past. Louis Mountbatten was the first Earl Mountbatten, a British admiral, statesman and the uncle of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II’s husband. Mountbatten was the last viceroy and first governor-general of independent India. He met with an unfortunate end in 1979 when the Irish Republican Army planted a bomb in his boat.

Although it is uncertain who Foch is – he could be the famed Ferdinand Foch, the French supreme commander of the Allied forces during World War I – the term “avenue” itself would indicate that this is an important road.

The intersection between then-Foch Avenue and the rather generic Jalan Sultan, was the location of the former train terminal. Right where Hotel Ancasa stands today used to be a train station, believe it or not. The terminal was also the distribution hub for newspapers of the day. The area would be abuzz at the crack of dawn with newspaper boys and vendors, and traders getting ready to start their business for the day.

Yes, this was indeed the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Not far from this spot, at the present Mydin Emporium in Bangunan Sinar Kota, there used to be the bus station to Cheras.

The Puduraya bus terminal was named after the illustrious town – and street – of Pudu. Such was the stature of Pudu as a thriving, vibrant nearby town.

We suppose back then, “convenience” was topmost on the minds of the town planners. By centralising transportation into a single hub, travellers could switch from one mode to another and get to their preferred destinations with little fuss.

In a sense, that still holds true. We want bus stations, taxi stands, train stations and even airports to be located right next to each other. Why else is there an “airport terminal” in KL Sentral?

However, convenience comes with a price. Town planners undoubtedly realised to their horror that such an arrangement created massive traffic jams. Puduraya simply did not have the capacity to handle the huge number of buses using it.

City Hall finally had to reroute traffic. Puduraya once ringed by roads like an island is now open to traffic on only one side, Jalan Pudu. The closed stretch eventually made way for the light rapid transit (LRT) tracks.

Today, we still find traffic jams, but on a more manageable level. Is this due to improved town planning? Not really. The constant traffic congestion forced businesses to relocate elsewhere and created newer business districts.
The area simply lost some of its past glitter and attraction. Without a strong business community, it simply becomes more retail-oriented and gradually loses out to other more attractive shopping venues that offer better facilities and amenities.

Town planning aside, geomantic forces could also have played a role in the fortunes of Jalan Pudu. Our tour of Kuala Lumpur today will start from Puduraya and move toward the Pudu district itself. Along the way, we may make short detours to observe how the landform influences businesses and residences.

The entire area covered in our tour is still within the embrace of the Klang River. The Klang/Ampang River is located up north, running from east to west. It bends southwards and is joined by the Gombak River to the west of our location. This is the famous muddy confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers that gave the city its name.

As with other parts of Kuala Lumpur, the terrain is not even. Behind Puduraya, there is a hill on which a Methodist church sits. This hill extends all the way to Stadium Merdeka in a generally southward direction.

Buildings between Jalan Pudu and this hill would be in a tricky spot. If they have their backs to the hill, it is good but that also means their entrances go against the flow of the Klang/Gombak River. So, every positive would be cancelled out by a negative. Businesses could find the going difficult.

The Ancasa Hotel (formerly the Impiana), for example, is in a very prominent location and enjoys good traffic. The hill sits at its back but the building’s entrance goes against the river. Furthermore, it also sits on the convex or outer arm of the Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jalan Tun Perak intersection; and another convex of the LRT train line. A more ideal location for the main entrance would be to face Jalan Sultan – and the river.

The nearby Puduraya has two main entrances – one into Jalan Pudu and the other in the direction of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. The latter is quite conducive because it directly faces the river. On the other hand, the Jalan Pudu entrance goes against the river flow, which is not conducive.

The opposite side of the road is actually quite favourable for business and would probably fare even better if traffic conditions were better and if there is no hill behind Puduraya. Buildings on this side have a higher back and a lower front. Their entrances also follow the river flow.

Behind this row of shops there is another road, Jalan Pudu Lama, a one-way street that hugs the contour of the land. There are several low-cost hostels for backpackers here, a hotel, a men’s spa and some offices.

At the beginning of Jalan Pudu Lama, there is an Indian temple. Its entrance faces west where the river is located. This is quite good.

On the other hand, properties behind this temple face north – and uphill – where Bukit Mahkamah is, which is not quite as good. Some businesses, including a large Chinese restaurant, have closed down.

Some smart entrepreneurs have adapted by merging their buildings with their rear neighbours that face Jalan Pudu. They effectively created a single unit that faces Jalan Pudu and turned the original entrance into the backdoor!
On the opposite side where the Diocese of West Malaysia is located, the landform is actually quite good. The buildings here have a higher back and low front. They face south, following the flow of the river in the west.

A few years back, a block of old houses on this side of the road was in a dilapidated state and home to vagrants and possibly even drug addicts. Not anymore. They have now been refurbished. Today, there is a men’s spa and a hotel here. Business should do well on this side.

Jalan Pudu Lama rejoins Jalan Pudu at the stalled Plaza Rakyat project. The location of Plaza Rakyat must be a dream for developers. It is a prime piece of property in the middle of the city, and a large tract to boot. Surely it would be a red-hot development!

Plans were afoot to develop this triangular tract, formerly a football field, into a mixed-use skyscraper complex. It would have an 81-storey office tower, a condominium, a hotel, a shopping complex and a new bus terminal to replace Puduraya.

Work started in late 1992 and was supposed to be completed in 1999. However, Asian economic crisis in 1997 stalled the project. Although 10 years have passed, the developers were unable to revive the project, now only one-third completed.

To date, the base level has been completed along with an LRT station that is intended to provide access to Plaza Rakyat visitors. Alas, the Plaza Rakyat station is operational but there is no mega-project attached! The fate of Plaza Rakyat remains uncertain.

From a geomancy perspective, perhaps this site should have been allowed to remain a football field for the benefit of the nearby schools, and possibly help raise our national football standards (we can always hope, can’t we?). this is a valley between Bukit Mahkamah, the Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent Headquarters and Stadium Merdeka.

This landform tends to become a pool of energy and can attract a certain type of activity, according to feng shui principles. Such activities tend to go along the lines of vice – drinking, gambling, prostitution and such – along with their attendant problems such as crime and extortion.

With the entrance facing north into Jalan Pudu, the complex would end up going against the river flow. This would not be conducive. Furthermore, the LRT runs directly behind it.

We are always concerned about properties can are located too close to train tracks, be they train, LRT or monorail. Fast moving trains create a vacuum that sucks in air from all sides in their wake. Strong winds such as these have a dispersive effect on energy. Thus, by extrapolation of ancient feng shui understanding, there is a strong possibility that fast-moving trains – and even highways – have a negative effect on surrounding buildings.

The Plaza Rakyat station was one of the earliest phases to be completed. Interestingly, the LRT service started operating in December 1996 just before the Asian financial crisis began in July the following year. Could this be a coincidence? Perhaps, but the impact definitely had a lasting impact.

It is possible that the presence of a train station may mitigate the effects, since the trains have to slow down as they approach a station. Even better if the stations are located close to each other: the trains would not have the time to gather speed.

Then again, the presence of such stations may not be a sufficient mitigating factor. This means other properties located too close to a train track may see hard times ahead, regardless of their proximity to a train station. Only time will tell.

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