The Segambut area of Kuala Lumpur is a true treasure of the city that has survived and thrived through the ages. Formerly a part of the Batu Caves district and home to huge rubber estates, Segambut was recognised as its own sub-district in 1974, and today there are many diverse townships within it, from the most luxurious to middle class housing estates to homey urban ‘kampungs’ (villages).
The good old days
Despite the eclectic mix of neighbourhoods under its umbrella, Segambut has remained a place of community. Musician Sasidharan Chandran, better known as Sasi the Don, grew up here, and describes it as filled with people from all walks of life. Sasi also remembers how the community was so close-knit that public spaces never felt sterile and cold, but instead were warm shared spaces to meet and deepen ties.
Surrounded by greenery, as the area remains today, Sasi and his friends used to take full advantage of being so close to nature.
“We would cycle from Taman Sri Segambut to Segambut Dalam, and even go all the way to the Forest Reserve Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) through all these small trails. It was the best way to get around because our parents were always telling us to keep off the main roads,” Sasi reminisces.
Sasi reflects on how growing up in Segambut showed him the warmth of community and its importance, which is what he has continued to look in adulthood. While he lives in a different residential area now, he feels it will never be as diverse and close-knit as his childhood in Segambut was.
Growing into its own
Over the years, since Sasi’s time, Segambut has evolved logistically to be a gateway between two different worlds: the semi-rural, village-style community with single story houses and roadside stalls and the new polished high-rise developments with chain grocers.
With the opening of the Lycée Français de Kuala Lumpur (French School of Kuala Lumpur) in 2005, Segambut quickly drew the attention of many expat residents that added to the already diverse mix of people in the area. Now, Segambut is not only adjacent to many modern, high-end facilities, such as Publika and Plaza Damas of neighbouring Mont Kiara, but is also connected to many important highways, making it extremely accessible and convenient to residents, new and old alike.
Resident and agriculture expert, Kamal Benjamin, was attracted to how Segambut retained its charms despite development.
“Segambut has a lot of old-school Malaysian charm to it that I appreciate. From food to community, it's one of the places in modern KL that proudly carried old KL with it to the present day,” Ben says.
Newlywed Adderly Shah was also drawn to how Segambut was able to offer an old-world appeal mixed with modern amenities. On top of that, the easy connectivity to the city centre, where he works, as well as the wealth of dining options in the area has made it a real home for him and his wife.
“It’s very convenient and there are plenty of choices for food. If you feel like splurging, you can go somewhere upscale, and if you’re on a budget, there is a good mix of stalls to choose from,” he enthuses.
A rare combination
Walking the streets of Segambut, it’s a common sight to see expatriates on their way to their children’s school interwoven with men of faith headed to the community mosque. In the evenings, young professionals jog while village children continue to cycle along tarred roads and veer into the kampung lanes of their parents, all within the same vicinity. The community of generational clans interwoven with middle-class locals and expat families lives symbiotically in rustic kampung houses and modern high-rises, breaking barriers with shared spaces and harmonious coexistence.
Adderly feels the living experience is unique in Segambut because of its eclectic qualities that are difficult to find anywhere else, with a combination of having luxury offerings along with a sense of timelessness.
Entrepreneur Jessica Edith, who lives in one of the newer luxury high-rise complexes, concurs. She points out that any modern amenity is within easy reach, yet there is also another, more casual side to Segambut.
“The side closer to Kepong has no tall buildings, and is like a proper neighbourhood. People are diverse and no one stares at you, no matter what you wear. It feels like a really nice community over here,” she says, inevitably adding that she loves the food available in the area.
An aged yet growing sub-district, Segambut continues to evolve with the times, catering to both local and international dwellers, adding new attractions and offerings whilst still maintaining its green lung and vintage appeal.