Kuala Lumpur in pictures

In December 2022, teacher and photographer Kyle Sutton and his family returned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after three years away due to Covid. While back in the country, Sutton captured a series of images showing the life and times of the Southeast Asian city.  

A man throws a handful of rice into a pot on a crowded cooking station

Popular Apam Balik (peanut pancake) stall in China Town. This vendor has been working at the Petaling Street markets for over 30 years. Photo by Kyle Sutton

Food is extremely important to all Malaysians, in fact a common greeting you may hear in Malaysia is ‘sudah makan?’ or ‘have you eaten already?’.  Unsurprisingly, the highlight to our trip to Kuala Lumpur was eating all our favourite dishes. Chicken satay, as pictured above is made from chunks of chicken marinated in a range of herbs and spices, before being skewered and barbecued over charcoal. 

A man waves a fan above a rack of chicken skewers sitting on an open flame

Chicken Satay being cooked the traditional way over charcoal, while using a fan to control the heat. Photo by Kyle Sutton

The Chinese represent the second largest ethnic group in Malaysia after the Malays and have left a strong mark on the culture of Malaysia. Chinese have been in Malaysia since the early 15th century, and Kuala Lumpur itself was founded by enterprising Chinese tin prospectors in 1857.

A man strolls down a street underneath a series of hanging red lamps

Chinese lanterns hang across an alleyway in Kuala Lumpur’s China Town area. Photo by Kyle Sutton

One of my favourite pastimes in Kuala Lumpur is to visit the many kopitiams or coffee shops and taste the local kopi (coffee), which usually consists of strong locally grown coffee, a variety called Coffea Liberica, roasted the traditional way with sugar and margarine, then filtered through cloth and mixed with sweetened condensed milk.

An old man walks down a sunny street with a series of shops on his left

Kuala Lumpur’s China Town or more commonly known to locals as Petaling Street. Photo by Kyle Sutton

There are approximately two million ethnic Indians living in Malaysia, the third biggest ethnic group in Malaysia. Many live in Kuala Lumpur and the other west-coast states of Peninsular Malaysia.  Historically, Indians have been coming to Peninsular Malaysia from about 400 BCE and historians largely believe it was Indian traders who first brought Islam to Malaysia.  The largest migration of Indians to Malaysia was during British rule, where many Indians, particularly from Tamil Nadu in the south of India were brought to Malaysia to work on rubber plantations.  Indian migration has left an indelible mark on Malaysia, and Indian culture, language and food can be seen clearly when visiting Kuala Lumpur. 

A colonial-style building in black and white

Colonial-era buildings once housed the popular Coliseum Café & Bar, a Kuala Lumpur institution. Photo by Kyle Sutton

Malacca city or Melaka as it is spelt today - about a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur - was once one of the most important trading ports in South-East Asia.  Located beside the busy Straits of Malacca, the town was strategically placed to receive merchant trading ships from both China and India.  As a result, Melaka grew in power and wealth until the arrival of the Portuguese who ransacked the city in 1511.  This marked the beginning of the colonial period of Malaysia.  Today Melaka is a great escape from the traffic and busy pace of Kuala Lumpur.  When living in Kuala Lumpur I would often find myself spending a few nights in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, wandering the streets, sampling the food and appreciating the old-world charm of this small, laid back city.

A man rides bicycle through the old streets of Melaka.

A man rides bicycle through the old streets of Melaka. Traditional kopitiams (coffee shops) can be seen in the background. Photo by Kyle Sutton

- Asia Media Centre