A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #15

The Pudu area of Kuala Lumpur has a very interesting landform. It is a basin-shaped valley which collects pools of energy – and water when it rained. We humans tend to congregate in areas that contain such slow-moving, gentle and homogenous energy.

There used to be a river here known in Cantonese as “tai sui hum”. Pudu residents had to cross it to go to Imbi. There is no other name for it today as it has disappeared from sight: it is designated as part of an underground drainage system. Parts of it can be glimpsed at the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) nearby.
Nevertheless, tai sui hum existed (and still does, albeit underground). This area was prone to floods when the monsoon rains came. Thus, it was not well developed in the old days. This lack of development became a magnet for migrant workers who set up illegal squatter huts alongside the river.

The authorities did not bother to evict them as they thought these settlements were only temporary – the squatters would either be washed out by the floods or voluntarily move out to better homes once they prospered.
Little did they know that the squatter homes would remain a persistent fixture of the neighbourhood. Worse, the squalid living conditions encouraged the squatter community to engage in unsavoury activities such as prostitution, pimping, protection rackets, gambling, gangsterism and so forth. Over time, these activities became too ingrained and too big to be eradicated.

The authorities found it difficult to enforce the law in gangland strongholds: at best, they could only condone this and try to regulate as much as possible. These settlements eventually became “legalised” – or at least they were legally recognised. How else could the squatters get electricity and water supply into their homes although they were living on government land?

This area has a slum-like appearance that still pervades today. Thus, observations recorded in ancient feng shui text a few thousand years ago continue to be verified by modern realities. Basin-like landforms attract people and activities but can also lead to an increase in vice and crime. Is this pure socio-economics at work or could there be a geomantic reason behind it? Perhaps it is a combination of both, or just plain common sense. Whatever it is, you cannot argue with the results.

Thanks to the collected pool of energy, central Pudu is full of people hustling and bustling among shophouses that dominate the landscape along the vicinity of Jalan Brunei and its offshoots. Here, we can find Pudu Plaza, bordered by Jalan Landak, Jalan Kijang and Jalan Davis.

This complex comprises a shopping mall and serviced apartments. Although it does not have the stature or buzz of Sungei Wang Plaza, Pudu Plaza is quite a popular destination for camera enthusiasts and fans of leather goods.
Interestingly, Pudu Plaza has two main entrances, one facing Jalan Pudu and the other in the direction of Imbi, where it faces tai sui hum. The former is not very ideal as it faces uphill but the latter is quite good. Thus, this complex enjoys lots of activity but mostly to middle- and lower-income groups.

Rumour has it that this area is also a popular roosting place for “second wives” or mistresses, though I leave it to you, dear readers, to ascertain if that is true.

Jalan Pudu curves and bends like a river. Based on feng shui theory, buildings that sit at the convex or outer side of a curve are not very conducive for success while those in the concave or embracing side enjoy better fortunes.
Go see for yourself. As you follow the road from Pudu Prison to the Jalan Pasar junction, the road twists and bends like a snake. Look at the buildings found on the convex and concave sides and see if the theory holds true: businesses on the concave side do well while those on the convex do not.

Along this road, there used to be the Majestic cinema in the 1970s. Today, it is no more. Business slumped and it was converted into an exhibition hall. It was later razed to the ground in a fire in 2005.

Back in the “old days”, cinemas were one giant hall and showed only one movie every day until its “season” ended, after which another movie would run until its popularity waned. A movie’s success was rated by how long its run lasted.
The home video phenomenon swept through the country in the early 1980s and practically wiped out the cinema business. A family could rent a movie at a fraction of the cost and enjoy reruns from the comfort of home.
Interestingly – or coincidentally, to the sceptics – many of the old cinema were also situated in less than ideal feng shui locations or orientations. Could the video boom be the main factor that caused old-style cinemas to decline? We do not think so. If that was true, how does one explain the success of cineplexes?

People are not flocking back to these new cinema complexes just because they want larger screens and better sound effects? After all, home videos today are more affordable, have higher quality (and bonus features even!); television sets have grown much bigger; LCD projectors have become more affordable; and home entertainment systems can create cinema-like sound quality.

Shops located across Jalan Pudu from the old Majestic site ought to enjoy good business, simply because they have everything the former Majestic did not. They are located in the embrace of the road and have a higher back. In recent times, however, businesses here seem to have fallen on harder times.

Could this be due to some radical changes in the landform or landscape? Nothing changed in a major way except for the presence of the light rapid transit (LRT) system that runs behind these shops towards Plaza Rakyat.
As with our past articles, I must state that I have nothing against this form of public transport, especially since it contributes significantly to reducing traffic congestion on roads. It is a necessity.

I am only concerned about the impact of fast moving trains along the track that generate strong tunnel-like wind effects in their wake. They create a vacuum that suck in air from their surroundings, and as we explained throughout this column, wind disperses energy.

Therefore, it is inadvisable to locate buildings near train tracks. The LRT system could dramatically alter the energy pools on properties between the track and Jalan Pudu.

The Sek Yuen Restaurant is located at a very ideal location for business, on the concave of Jalan Pudu. To this day, it enjoys roaring business, with signature dishes such as Eight Treasures Duck and pig trotters.

Time appears to have stood still for this restaurant which started in the 1950s. The cooks still wear white t-shirts and dark baggy pants; the tables and chairs look as old and classic as the shop, and I would not be surprised if they were part of the original furniture! And if so, this is a telling testimony of the durability of quality products made in the old days! The employees have probably worked here for decades, too, judging by their age and appearance.
Sek Yuen has expanded to a neighbouring shoplot, which is more modern and air-conditioned, to cater to fussier clientele. Nevertheless, the original ceiling fan-powered building is still popular even among youngsters as it exudes a sense of old-world nostalgia.

With the advent of the LRT, we are concerned over its long-term ramifications to the restaurant and its owners. There could be a mitigating factor, in the form of the Pudu LRT station located close behind it. As the trains decelerate when approaching the station – or take some time to get up to speed after, the wind effect is lessened.
However, the long-term effects remain to be seen. After all, the LRT is a relatively new feature of Kuala Lumpur. By my reckoning and based on the reasoning found in ancient feng shui texts, the “suction” of energy from fast-moving trains and cars on major roads will have an impact on the surrounding areas. Time will tell if this theory holds true.

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