KL Chinatown’s night women

Its about 9.20pm and a slight rainfall dampens the air.

Traders along Petaling Street in Chinatown are bereft of their usual high traffic of shoppers. Their spirit however is sheltered to fight another day… afterall, this is one of their common susceptibilities. From a cluster of tightly packed vendors, someone yells out in Cantonese -“Why must it rain?!”

Tonight I was hoping to gain some insights to street prostitutes operating in Chinatown. If you look closely, they are along the fringes of Petaling street – particularly on the southern end, closer to ATC Law College. The covered pedestrian walkways in front of the old colonial shophouses are rife with hookers.

For weeks now I had been wanting to check out the upstairs of an old shophouse used by the prostitutes. Thats how I met Anna. A lady from Johore in her late 40s. (In fact, all the women working out of this shophouse are older veterans…. in the twilight years of their careers.)

I agreed to rm20 for a suck and fuck. She ushered me up a set of narrow wooden stairs. Light was streaming down from the landing area upstairs. The air suddenly felt so old. I watch as her moving silhouette cast an incredible picture against the shady green walls along the steep narrow stairs. How I wished I had my camera out….but I had to be patient. I cannot allow them to feel threatened. I have to win their confidence and trust.

An elaborately adorned red chinese alter greeted me as I stepped on the wooden landing. There were two other working girls…(also late in their years) and an old chinese man on a stool… I was lead into a 6×6 sq ft room partitioned by thin old wooden boards with an open ceiling. Seriously, every breath you take can be heard!

Anna closed the door and asked me to pay first. She asks for an extra rm1 for the room charge. Then droped it into a half cut mineral bottle. She didn’t flinch when i declined to have sex. I asked some questions and as expected she felt uncomfortable. Within minutes she was asking me to hurry. In between my ‘getting to know her session’ she had to answer a call from her son (whom she says is the reason why she keeps this job)

I ask for permission to take a photo of the room. She agrees but rushes me. I took what i could, remembering that the old man outside may become suspicious at the volume of talking that transpired. Anna leaves the room… I didn’t want her to do that yet…but left with no choice. I asked myself…do I risk it and go out the door with my camera? or play it easy and come back another day (as i have to anyway)


I walked out of the room with camera safely in my bag. The old man wasn’t there! I had the entire landing to photograph, including the beaming alter and other working girls… But Anna had already started going down the stairs. She was hurrying me to follow. Inside, I cringed at my missed opportunity.

This is the start….I tried to make a deal with Anna downstairs. It was a loose verbal agreement, but she will try and help me another time. The old man was lingering around. He looked at us suspiciously. I might have to appear in slight disguise the next time…ha ha ha
So the story on Chinatown prostitutes will start from here. Last night was the first of a series of ground work needed to document something.

The pictures will come….I hope 🙂


20 Responses

  1. wow..too bad abt not havin the camera..but love your connection with your subjects..also brilliant access and spirit! but be careful as they are dangerous subject matter and that pimps can get well pissed so watch ur back dude!
    let the adventures begin…

    best regards
    miss Q-

  2. i hope the govt will start to recognize this problem and help to retrain these poor girls in other professions i.e hairdressing, child care etc..these girls should never be judged for the work that they have been forced into due to unfortunate circumstance..the unsrupulous ppl responsible for these brothels should be put in prison..good work nikt!


  3. Hey thanks missQ! ya lets see what happens next. I can’t wait to document more. My only growse is that I can’t get into it right away. geez….

    • Hey man its too dangerous it might cost your life , they dont care about your life.
      Please dont do this because the value of life is much more your self might imagine.
      I am saying it because i have heard crazy stories in Malaysia after 4 years staying and studying in Malaysia. all my girl friends been local some Chinese . some Malay and even Indonesian so they have told me a lot about Asia ….

  4. thanks angela, i hear you…. there are many unseen hands involved, allowing these brothels to exist and for so long now….without prosecution. I mean there is a police station that sits right in front of the whole place on a small hill….why are they closing an eye?

  5. Hey Nikt,

    It sure looks like you’re keeping yourself busy eh? Were you using your SLR or did you sneak in a little P&S camera for this project of yours?

    Well, if you need some assistance around Nov 11-19…let me know. 🙂


  6. fascinating work on the much under-rated coverage of social issues back home.

    looking forward to following the progress of your adventure.

    keep it up!

  7. William….i m using my slr la…besides in most cases for this kind of coverage have to let them know i am shooting.

  8. hh,

    ya thanks and keep coming back….although the drawback is that i can’t really speed up the pace of this work…:-/

  9. Was reading the article by Wong Chun Wai on “Sex City Claim Can Hurt KL” in The Star today and seeing that the foreigners even compare KL to the like of Patpong makes me wonder if this really is happening. I supposed I can now relate your articale to his and conclude that this is really happening…

  10. […] soho November 30th, 2006 at 10:39 am  […]

  11. Wow, I was always under the impression that Malaysia was a strict Islamic state that allows for little moral deviancies. Interesting to see this other side of Malaysia.

  12. Dude, its a cool things you are doings. But I think the bottom line of the causes was well aware by everyone. May I suggest you start something more preventive. Theres lot of young girls now losing their direction. Even there’s someone love them with all their heart they still did terible things. Like threesome..ecstacy .. get drunk.. I like to read your output on that. What actually they are looking for or is fate that there’s evil inside them. With your looks nik.. I think you can explore this and find the answer.


  13. Great .. kinda fantastic matter. I will blog about it too.

  14. where do these older women hang out while waiting for customers?

  15. What is the highest and lowest amount older women

  16. I appreciate the adventure you resorted to. keep it up

  17. This area is mostly for the older prostitutes. The price is below RM20.00. Most of them stop work at 10pm. Some take bus or taxi home. Some I talk to said they have children and they cannot back late. I met one again buying food ,she smiled at me and said that it was for her children. Some prostitutes are sent and picked up by their abang.on motorbike. If you are lucky your wait might get your self a young girl.The price is about RM30.00. The rooms are small with old smell. The bed and beddings are in poor condition . This makes you want to go to a better hotel nerby.

  18. KL sex women

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