Photoessay: Forest in the city

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Recently reopened, Taman Tugu is a surprisingly large park in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. It’s unique for being a rehabilitated secondary rainforest: for decades it had been used as a fly tipping site; literally hundreds of tons of rubbish and debris were removed from the hilly area by hand, and native species brought in to accelerate the repopulation of the forest and close up the canopy. Despite being effectively a manmade park, it has the feel of being completely natural other than a couple of prepared trails and benches; this is completely different from any of the other parks or reserves in Kuala Lumpur, and made to feel even more surreal due to the location – you’re barely two or three kilometres from the city centre, but once inside the park you hear nothing but birds and insects. It’s an amazingly tranquil feeling and I think something quite unusual for an urban area. The only other analog ambience-wise that comes to mind is the Nezumuseum garden in Tokyo; but that’s obviously a completely manmade garden, though the style is less formal than your traditional Japanese construction. Both however have the same sort of underlying feeling of structured chaos – an organic natural-ness overlaid on top of something more organised. To have something this close to home is very special indeed, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in Kuala Lumpur (but bring mosquito repellent). In this series I’ve tried to capture vignettes of that feeling, though this turned out to be more difficult than imagined…

This set was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70 S and processed with Photoshop Workflow III and the Monochrome Masterclass.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. I’ve been to that park! I was in KL some years ago for training and I took a walk to the park. Very neat to see it again. I like the monochrome – beautifully done.

  2. A lot of mood in the pictures, and the lighting shows a new way to see a forest. Very nice.
    One little thing i miss a photos where you can see the connection between the forest and the city. Or are the buildings too far away?

    • Thanks. Actually, you don’t see any buildings at all – that’s the magic of this place; it’s in the center of town but you could be hundreds of miles away…

  3. Your use of B&W to accentuate the textures, the patterns and the play of shadow and light on the leaves is making me want to go through my own catalog of jungle vegetation photos and see it in a whole new light… love it!

  4. Nice! I miss walking in the green.

  5. A delight, thank you for sharing. I particularly enjoyed the mono images, but the colour ones also brightened a grey UK day…

  6. Love the set! Reminiscent of another one – yes, from Tokyo, though I have no idea if it’s from the other place you mentioned. Anyhow, a very nice start to the new year – in more than one sense, I hope.

    All the best to you and your family!

  7. ohh..the first photo of the palm frond in the sunlight.. love the silver tone. Beautiful.

  8. Kristian Wannebo says:

    – meaning both the photos and the park!
    Must be a *very* inspiring place!
    – – –

    What a great initiative and work for a city!
    May town architects from all major cities visit Kuala Lumpur and learn!

    • Yes: for the most part, learn what not to do when laying out a city…there are so many boneheaded moves here it isn’t funny (pet peeve: unnecessary traffic caused by having many sets of lights close together, but out of sync)

  9. René François says:

    Thanks Will go tomorrow

  10. how far this park from the Kuala Lumpur? it is so beautiful park, love to visit here

  11. himalghale9558 says:

    eco nature forest, it is very nice photos, all can ready easily by photos. thank you for sharing such good images.


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