Did you know you can visit the old National Palace in Kuala Lumpur? The once glorious place, home to our Kings and Queens has now been converted to a Royal Museum and open for visit for all for a nominal fee. For your information my workplace is only 5 minutes drive from the Royal Museum but I only get to visit the place today.
The old national palace was formerly a huge double-storey mansion called "The Big House" and was built by a local chinese millionaire named Chan Wing in 1928. It was then used a the residence of the Selangor's Sultan and later sold to the Federal government for 1.4 million Straits dollar in 1957 to be used by the newly installed King.
The museum is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00 and for locals you only pay RM5.00 for adults and just 2 ringgit for kids. Car park is available outside the museum and the place is usually not crowded, even on weekends. After paying the entrance fee you walk up about 800 meters to the palace doors. It's good to finally see the iconic building that was once printed on our paper note (old RM5 money) up close.
We had much fun taking pictures of the beautiful surrounding and building but unfortunately we soon learned that we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the building. I don't know what's the rational behind this but whatever it is, I sincerely think it's outdated and ridiculous not to allow people to take photos of old buildings. Anyway despite the fact that I'm longing to secretly snap a few pictures inside the palace, I adhered to the warning and took none. We walked everywhere inside the old palace, saw every room from the royal bedroom to the royal dining hall and even the royal laundry room (no kidding). Of course they were all beautiful except for a few spots with wear and tear due to old age.
Most of the spacious rooms inside the old palace were cordoned off to visitors so basically we only get to take a peek from the doorway. If they didn't I would imagine these tourists making all sort of poses, decent or not in and around the place. It would be scandalous. We covered all of the rooms in the double-storey palace pretty quickly. Not more than half an hour I should think. Then we head straight next door to the throne room or Balairong Seri. Although the same 'no photography' sign displayed at the entrance of this area, people including the guards were liberally taking selfies and pictures all over the place. So I guess the rules were relaxed in those part so we didn't miss the chance to pose for a few pictures ourself.
The Balairong Seri happens to host a special collections of malay rulers' exhibition so we get to see some of our kings and sultans favorite toys and paraphernalias. Our visit to the Royal Museum was at minimum informative and educational. We we awed at the beautiful things inside the building? Perhaps. But come to think of all our hard earned money used to build and maintain the place, I was not so thrilled.
Were they justified in building the new RM800 million palace in Jalan Duta? I reserve my comment but suffice to say, if I were a king and had to live in this 86 old and ageing building, I'd be bummed too. I like the fact that drinks from the vending machine is fairly cheap at 1 ringgit each. I still despise the fact that we couldn't take any pictures inside the museum. Would I visit it again in the future? Probably just to take my grandma who's an avid fan of royalties. Other than that, probably not.
The Royal Museum is located along Jalan Istana and you won't miss it if you're a regular visitor to KL city. I'm sure you'd passed the building going or coming back from work several days a week. Now you can see it for yourself the lifestyle of the lucky and famous.