New Tourist Attraction in Kuala Lumpur – Kwai Chai Hong
This would be the most simplified and suitable name for this beautiful heritage place, but I have a detailed explanation further in this article for those interested.
Kwai Chai Hong at Petaling Street
|Kwai Chai Hong is also known as Prankster Lane, which is at Petaling Street in KL|
|Zeen Chang in white and grey, gives a detailed tour at the arch entrance of Kwai Chai Hong|
What Is Kwai Chai Hong?
In the Cantonese dialect, Kwai Chai means Little Ghost and Hong means Lane. But to use that as the main name in English, wouldn’t work too well. Hence they gave it a more suitable name of Prankster Lane.
So what is Kwai Chai? A direct meaning would be a little demon, or as the Malays call them ‘Toyol‘. These are the mischievous little ghost, which are similar to the famous cartoon ghost called Casper.
There are two theories to how this place was named, but again, there is no written proof on this, hence all two are valid speculations of the past.
First Theory – Back in the day, Theater Lane was known to be a notorious place where all the vices took place. We are talking about drinking, gambling, prostitution, opium dens and gang-related activities that took place here.
Because of the vice that took place here, there was a local gang called the Dragon Tiger Gang, who used Theater Lane as their hideout. The gang leader was said to call his members ‘Little Ghost’ or Kwai Chai.
Second Theory – After the gang scene there, the place cleaned up a little, and local kids who lived there would run around in mischief, playing games and often pranks on the people there.
Because of these mischievous kids, many locals who lived there called them ‘Kwai Chai’, due to their naughty and erratic behaviour.
So this is how the interesting place got its name Kwai Chai Hong in Cantonese, and has been a very niche historical side of Kuala Lumpur that not many people know about.
|The beautiful street art murals at Kwai Chai Hong|
Street Art at Petaling Street – Kwai Chai Hong
During my visit here on the 13th April 2019, it was a media preview where the owners were there to explain the entire restoration and refurbishment project.
They also invited a few of the artist who contributed to the street art murals located there. I have to say that the finished art pieces were very impressive.
If you are lucky, there will be one of the staff who will provide a free guided tour, but this may only happen on weekends. Best to check with the cafe first about the free guided tours.
Kwai Chai Hong Murals
Below are photos of the various murals found at the location, and again, they are free to visit, so if you are in Kuala Lumpur, head here to see some of KL’s nostalgic Chinese heritage being showcased through this project.
|Couple on Bridge – One of the first murals you will see when walking in through the arch.|
|The artist who drew Er Hu Uncle|
|Artist who drew ‘Kids Playing Marbles’|
|A controversial mural called ‘The Prostitute’. However, I can easily call this Cabaret Dancer or Singer.|
|Zeen Chang, one of the owners of the project explains the multiple murals on the higher level.|
Who Owns and Manages Kwai Chai Hong?
This passion project is managed by Bai Chuan Management Sdn. Bhd., a local Malaysia company with five partners, and was officially launched on the 12th of April 2019.
The main objective of this project is to bring back memories of the good old days, and hopefully to lure the younger generation, or in other words, the millennials by introducing arts, culture and heritage in one place.
Another wish is that Kwai Chai Hong will hopefully be the next best Instagram place in Kuala Lumpur.
The entire project took around eight months to complete, and cost around RM1.5 million. The beautiful murals you see there also cost around RM120,000.
|Inside the Bubble Bee Cafe, with the back entrance to Prankster Lane|
Bubble Bee Cafe at Petaling Street
They offer light and heavy meals, and personally, I tried their signature grilled chicken panini sandwich, which was pretty awesome.
It is an intermediate unit, with a huge mural of a little girl peeking from the top floor of the building. If you look towards the roof when you are walking, you will easily spot this.
|Location of Kwai Chai Hong|
How to go to Kwai Chai Hong?
Basically, the Kwai Chai Hong Project is located at the south end of Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street. There are two end of the walking market, and from the south end, you continue to walk another 100 meters.
Once you see Bubble Bee Cafe, you can enter though there, or just walk to the end of the row and make two right turns into the back lane. This back lane is known as Lorong Panggung.
Anyone who is visiting KL Chinatown can easily walk here as it takes two to three minutes walk from the south entrance of Petaling Street.
If you are driving or taking a ride hailing service, just use Bubble Bee Cafe as your final destination. From there, just walk through or around the row of shops.
|The area where Kwai Chai Hong is located, by google maps.|
Kwai Chai Hong Petaling Street
|Artist were seen doing sketches of the lane|
Photography at Kwai Chai Hong
For this review and article, I used a Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone for all my photos here, and with very little edits.
Overall, I have to say that the smartphone camera technology has improved so fast that I challenged myself by only using a smartphone versus a DSLR camera.
While the photos here are resized for web use, I must conclude that the actual high resolution photos are very real and natural.
The great thing about the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is the multi zoom function which makes taking photos so easy. My favourite is still the wide angle zoom, which is a 123 degree view, capturing a super wide angle.
|View of Kwai Chai Hong from the upper level of the street|