When you travel via the Kelana Line LRT train from KL Sentral upwards to Kelana Jaya and Subang Jaya, there is a stop known as Asia Jaya. Have you ever wondered why it was known as Asia Jaya when there was no building or road or area with that name?
Whereas for other trainstops, they are often named after an area or a notable landmark. For example Taman Jaya is named after a recreational park and Taman Paramount/Taman Bahagia are names of the residential neighborhood, all located near the respective train stations.
Asia Jaya is an old name known to locals like me who stayed in Klang Valley especially in Petaling Jaya. Bus and taxi drivers who are locals would usually know where is Asia Jaya.
Let’s start with far far back, before the place was even called Asia Jaya:
My mom said when she was a child, most area in Petaling Jaya were either rubber estates or forests. She recalled cycling to the area around Asia Jaya which is like rubber estate to collect wood. Wood was used for cooking during her childhood days.
People who have stayed in Petaling Jaya for a long time would know about the earliest shopping complexes being opened. Asia Jaya (now Hotel Armada has been build in its place), Thrifty and Jaya Supermarket were some of the initial shopping complexes being opened in Petaling Jaya.
Asia Jaya was a very busy shopping complex. I remember my parents used to take me there as a young child and there would be a lot of people. There was a large supermarket located at where the Overseas Restaurant is where people would go to get their groceries in an air conditioned place. Air con was not a norm in most places and houses then so it was a novelty.
Later when the Federal Highway (Lebuhraya Persekutuan) was completed, it cut through right between Asia Jaya and PJ Hilton hotel. Federal Highway basically connected Kuala Lumpur to Klang, with exits leading to Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya and Shah Alam.
Note: Before Federal Highway was build, to go to Subang, Shah Alam and Klang would take a long time through small roads. I remember when my youngest uncle went to US to pursue his university education, we went through lots of turns here and there before we could reach the Subang airport to send him off. That time, Subang airport handled all local and international flights.
My mom had this kinda belief that children should be brought to airport so that they would have a chance to go overseas. Well in my case I really did travel often but mostly to Thailand. As for my brother, he still does not travel much because he does not fancy travelling. So not sure how far that superstition is true.
Okie, I went off track a little. Back to Asia Jaya…. Strangely the number of visitors to Asia Jaya dropped after the Federal Highway was opened and never recovered. Eventually a lot of the shops closed down. My parents said that the building of the Federal Highway had cause disruption in the feng shui.
Or perhaps because of the highway, it made it easier for people to get to Kuala Lumpur city so they all went there. I find this does not make much sense because those days, most people go by with public transportation. Or motorbikes. With children tagging along, it was not practical to go to town all the time. People tend to prefer shopping complexes located near their homes or that require a short drive.
Later Hotel Armada was being build and behind there was the Overseas Restaurant. Overseas Restaurant would usually be booked on weekends during the Chinese wedding season (usually falling from the 8th Lunar month until the first luar month of Chinese New Year).
Some might say it is due to the development of bigger shopping complexes. I really doubt this was the case. This is because when the Federal highway was completed, it was a long time ago and the large shopping complexes like One Utama, Sunway Pyramid and Mid Valley were not even build yet. In fact the place where One Utama sits today was still undeveloped land that time.
No doubt, the building of newer and larger shopping complexes with easy parking caused smaller complexes like Jaya Supermarket and Atria (old Atria before its renovation) to lose a lot of their crowd. But Asia Jaya and Thrifty had seen a huge drop in crowd right after the Federal Highway was build but before larger shopping complexes came up.
Hope this gives you an idea about the history of Asia Jaya from someone who grew up in PJ.