Pekan Lama @ Kuala Kubu Bharu

There’s more to KKB besides a pitstop en route to the lofty hill station of Fraser’s Hill. Once the second largest town in Selangor, Kuala Kubu Bharu may be small and sleepy by today’s standards but this picturesque place, nestled among Selangor’s foothills, has a rich history and an easy going charm that’s worth getting to know.

Rising from the decimated ruins of Kuala Kubu, the former fort, tin mining town and British administration centre, was washed away when the dam broke in 1883.

Locals had it, disaster struck because its District Officer, Sir Cecil Rankin, had despatched a particular white crocodile, the purported guardian spirit of the town.  The result of killing this apex predator was Rankin’s own demise, and along with many homes and 32 of its residents, he too perished. (I’m not superstitious but I love KKB all the more for this brilliant environmentally inclined moral tale.) Subsequently Kuala Kubu was renamed Ampang Pecah (meaning broken dam) and a new town was relocated to its current higher location and named Kuala Kubu Bharu, the word “bharu” denoting “new”, now over a century old.

Designed by town planner Charles Reade and envisioned as a garden city, KKB’s grid format is easy to navigate. Park at any one of the rows of well preserved colonial era shophouses and hit the streets on foot for old school food and friendly locals. Among the heritage buildings of note are the clock tower, post office, police station and fire station. Don’t skip the  back streets either as some have become the site of art work depicting the area’s major attractions.

Location KKB is located in Selangor approximately 70km from Kuala Lumpur.
How to get there Jump on the North-South Highways (E1). My preference is to exit at the Bukit Beruntung interchange (exit 118). The route to KKB is signposted but it’s a right after the toll, then a left at the second set of lights just after the petrol station. Follow the road until a T-junction and take a right. At the next T take a left. You’ll finally intersect with Highway 1. Take a left. A train track should be running parallel to you on your left. At the traffic lights take a right. You’ve now arrived in KKB.  Look out for Jalan Merdeka on your left and turn in to get to the old part of town. Alternately, take the KTM Kommuter from KL Sentral in the capital and switch at Rawang. You might have to walk from the KKB train station as taxis are rare.
Best time to visit All year round but especially durian season in June through August. If you want to escape the bikers and cyclists that descend upon the town at weekends, come on a weekday.
Where to stay Sure you could do KKB in a day but you wan’t to get better acquainted, right? Avid cyclist and personal friend of mine Joe Jalil threw open the doors to his comfortable Air BnB stay Pertak Siring last year. It has 3 rooms and can accommodate 6 for RM281/night.

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