Kampung Baru survives as a slice of village life in the middle of one of Asia’s biggest cities

Staff, 2022-10-29 14:00:00,

Every morning, as the sun rises in Fuad Fahmy’s village, he can hear the familiar sounds of a rural existence begin to stir: roosters crowing, kitchens clattering, children chattering, water splashing.

He’s lived all his life in a traditional Malay village called Kampung Baru, which means “new village”, but he considers himself a city boy.

That’s because Kampung Baru is located smack bang in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital and one of Asia’s biggest cities.

There are many places in south-east Asia called Kampung Baru, but this one was established at the turn of the 19th century by the British colonial administration in Malaysia, with help from a grant from the then sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alaeddin Shah.

The idea was to create a place for Malay farmers to live close to the urban centre so they could provide food for city dwellers while retaining a village lifestyle.

Unlike the steel and glass apartment buildings that have sprung up elsewhere in KL, most homes in Kampung Baru are timber.(Getty Images/AFP: Mohd Rasfan)

Fuad’s great-grandfather moved here in 1907 and his extended family has remained, sharing a small two-storey building with a traditional timber second floor, and a concrete lower level.

It’s about as close as you can get to a village lifestyle in the city, but Fuad fears it may soon come to an end.

“When I was growing up, it was a totally comfortable atmosphere. But now it has totally changed,” he says. “The buildings just mushroomed around the…

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