Kuala Lumpur: Jadi Batek Gallery

From Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom, we moved on to the Jadi Batek Gallery, a family-owned batik and handicrafts retailer.   It has a spacious 30,000 sq. ft. gallery.  Though we didn’t buy any of their impressive array of batik and handicrafts merchandise, we did observe, up close, the batik making process.

Jadi Batek Gallery

Batik is a fabric dying method using wax to create patterns and designs. This method makes use of a resist technique; applying areas of cloth with wax (a dye-resistant substance) to prevent them from absorbing colors when the cloth is dipped into dye. Not only as a dye-resistant substance, the wax applied is also used to control colors from spreading out from a particular area to create motif when the dye is painted.  The use of batik has also extended from clothing to everything from home furnishings and table cloths to handicrafts.

In Malaysia, there are two major types of batik: hand-drawn batik and block-printed batik.  We observed the making of the former.  In the hand-drawn batik is usually produced in 4 m. (used for women’s wear) or 2 m. (for men’s wear) lengths.  Designs are drawn on the fabric (cotton, rayon, linen, voile and silk) with hot liquid wax by using a metal object called canting.

Design Outlines Being Drawn on the Fabric

When the wax outlines are done, artists use the brushes to paint the dyes within the outlines. The use of brush allows for the creation of shaded and multi-hued designs.  The fabrics are patterned with floral and geometrical motifs, arranged in various layouts as dictated by current trends.  Besides shirt and dresses, hand-drawn batik is also made into scarves, pareos, craftans and even as framed art.

Brushes are Used to Paint the Dyes Within the Outlines

In block-printed batik, the canting is replaced by a copper block or a wooden stamp with artistically patterned bottom.   The block is dipped into the wax and printed onto the fabric, which is then dip-dyed. Then the wax will be removed and batik with single color is produced. To create multi-colors and complex batik, waxing with different blocks, dying and de-waxing has to be done many times.

A Gallery of Framed Batik Art

Jadi Batek Gallery: 30 Jalan Inai, Off Jalan Imbi,  55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Tel : (60) 3 – 2145 1133.  Fax : (60) 3 – 2141 0179.

Kuala Lumpur: Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom

From Merdeka Square, our Indian tourist guide brought us to the Crafts Village where we visited Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom, the largest chocolate showroom in Malaysia and a Malaysian manufacturer of quality chocolates with a regional expansion. Located just opposite the Dorsett Hotel (where we were staying), this outlet, opened in 2006, is housed in a converted bungalow.

Beryl's Chocolate Kingdom

Heaven for a chocolate lover like me here, they offer taste tests inside for their many selections which included chocolate with chili, green tea or durian flavor; chocolate with your favorite fruit flavor, or chocolate with tiramisu and almonds (introduced in 2003), all dark chocolates.  The choco milk version is also available. You name it they have it. Bar chocolate (raisins, almond, coconut, etc), camior bar chocolate, Ghana chocolate, tiramisu chocolate and gift packs are the popular buys.  I bought some boxes of tiramisu chocolates.

The Showroom

The company, formerly called Real Chocolate Industry,was incorporated in 1995, starting out with 3 products – the Triangle Bar Chocolate (replaced by Camior in 1998), Popcorn Chocolate and tinned Almond & Assorted Nuts Milk Chocolate.

In 2000, new varieties of chocolate were developed and introduced and the company changed her name to Beryl’s Chocolate & Confectionery Sdn Bhd. In 2001, Beryl’s introduced her new and improved Camior chocolate bar that included a new shape and packaging. In addition to that, Beryl’s introduced the Black Bitter Chocolate and 500 g Jar Panned selection to the Malaysian market. In 2004, the Black Bitter line of chocolates was refreshed with new and improved offerings.

Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom: 38 Jalan Utara, Off Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tel: 603-21458211. Fax: 603-21459211. Email : lausanne@berylschocolate.com. Website: www.berylschocolate.com.my.

Kuala Lumpur: Merdeka Square

Part of our city tour itinerary and a “must see” is the 8.2-hectare Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square), actually a large grassy field used for cricket. Here, thousands of Malaysians celebrated 50 years of nationhood on August 31, 2007.  It is surrounded by many buildings of historical interest.

Kuala Lumpur’s Tallest Flagpole

A 95-m. high flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, marks the spot (with a flat, round black marble plaque) where the British Union Jack flag was lowered and the  Malayan flag was first hoisted at midnight of August 31, 1957. It is located at the southern end of the square.

Royal Selangor Club

On one side of the square is the Royal Selangor Club‘s (founded in 1884) quasi-Tudor-style building.  Originally designed by British architect A.C. Norman and built in 1890, it was later redesigned by architect Arthur Benison Hubback and rebuilt in 1910, with 2 additional wings on either side of the main building.  The club is a place to watch a game of cricket on a Sunday afternoon.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

In stark contrast across the square is the Mughal-styled Sultan Abdul Samad Building. A famous landmark for Malaysia and KL prior to the building of the Petronas Twin Towers, this unique, Indian Mughal-style  building, designed by British architect A.C Norman, was completed in 1897. Once serving as the Selangor State Secretariat and, later, the Supreme Court during the British era before being abandoned for a number of years, it is now home to Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Arts.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building Clock Tower

This much photographed building also has a 40 m. high clock tower (affectionately dubbed “Big Ben”) topped with a gleaming copper dome and flanked on both sides by two domed towers. Next to it is the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station built in 1910.

Merdeka Square and Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin

St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral, an Early English Gothic style building, was built in 1895. Other notable structures include the National History Museum (formerly the Chartered Bank Building), the Memorial Library (formerly the Government Printer Building, built in 1899), and the Sanitary Board Fountain (built in 1897).

National History Museum

Kuala Lumpur: National Monument

Next in our itinerary was the 15 m. (49.21 ft.) high Tugu Negara (National Monument), the world’s tallest bronze freestanding sculpture group, located near the Malaysian Houses of Parliament. It commemorates those who died in Malaysia’s struggle for freedom, from the Japanese occupation during World War II till the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960).

National Monument (Tugu Negara)

The 48,562 sq. m. monument complex, facing the Lake Gardens, encompasses 5 main components: the National Monument, fountains, pavilions, a war memorial and surrounding gardens.  The sculpture reminds me of the Iwo Jima Memorial and its similarity doesn’t end there as both were done by Austrian sculptor Felix de Weldon.

The National Monument was completed and officially opened on February 8, 1966.  The monument depicts a 7 soldiers from the Malaysian Armed Forces, one holding the Jalur Gemilang, the Malaysian national flag, aloft while the others are supporting their fallen comrades. Each of the bronze figures symbolizes leadership, suffering, unity, vigilance, strength, courage and sacrifice.

The Cenotaph

Its granite base bears the old coat-of-arms of Malaysia, flanked on either side by inscriptions in English (with Roman script) and Malay (with Jawi script).  Near the National Monument is a cenotaph, the original national monument.  Beside the National Monument are the ASEAN Gardens (has a collection of prize-winning sculptures by some of the finest artists in the ASEAN region) and the Memorial Tun Razak, which houses memorabilia of the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister.

Kuala Lumpur: National Palace

The next day, after breakfast at the hotel, we were picked up at the hotel lobby for our scheduled city tour.  It surprised me how our Indian guide compressed our interesting itinerary in a nutshell. First in the itinerary was the Istana Negara (National Palace), the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia.

Main Gate of the National Palace

The 11.34-hectare palace grounds are not opened to members of the public or tourists but the Main Palace Entrance is a favorite picture spot for tourists. The royal insignia of the king is placed on each steel bar between two pillars of the fence. At each side of the  main entrance are two guard box that shelter two members of the cavalry.  We were allowed to pose with a mounted royal guard in colorful full dress uniform as well as armed guard wearing the traditional samping.

Posing with a Guard Wearing the Traditional Samping

Istana Negara: Jalan Istana, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia