3 November 2010

The Flooded Mall

"The Flooded Mall", a nickname coined by us, was a mega-sized integrated shopping mall cum hotel billed as a multi-million project,due to be opened back in 1998. Sadly, that never materialized with the subsequent recession hitting the developers hard. Abandoned since then, this derelict half-done project came under the spotlight for its numerous reports of vandalism - petty thieves making off with metal trimmings, pipes and anything else of value that could be sold to rag-and-bone men or scrap metal collectors.

There were also copious amounts of reports telling of drug addicts, squatters, illegal immigrants, beggars and the homeless making the complex their home. It was said that fights frequently broke out among the "residents" of the building and the common cause of these fights stemmed to accusations of stealing from one another and stepping over into each others' "territory". From what we could muster, it was said that some of these people died in the complex itself, owing to old age, sickness, fights and also drug overdose. As most of them did not have family members in the country, their bodies were just left to rot in secluded areas or on the upper floors of the complex.

Nature slowly taking over


Lavel 3

There is also an urban legend story of a pregnant woman, who was an illegal immigrant, living in the complex. She was experiencing labour pains and while making her way to the ground floor, she fell and got impaled on a steel piece jutting out from the cement floor, which was a part of the unfinished framework. However, despite the horrifying accident, she did not die on the spot and was said to have screamed in pain for a while, pleading with the rest of the people around for help, but it was to no avail. When she finally passed on, a couple of the "residents" removed her lifeless body and left it on one of the enclosed floors. Shortly after this incident, the "residents" started seeing a toddler running around, followed by scary piercing screams from within the compound that spooked them, prompting some of them to make a hasty exit.

A Datuk Gong, which is probably Datuk Kuning judging from his outfit (right)
with Indian deities (left). Datuk Kuning is worshiped to provide protection to a certain location.

Some people have also speculated that practitioners of black magic often used the complex as a training ground for their devious deeds. Others has also said that exorcisms were performed on possessed individuals in the complex, with the spirits purged and locked within the dark areas of the compound. Passers-by have reported seeing huge black shadowy figures walking within the complex as well past dusk.

Another, an exaggerated story (in our opinion) also tells of a family who drove into the mall one evening, attracted by its bright neon lights, thriving crowd and numerous lighted shop windows. After a few hours of shopping, they dropped by a relative's house and were shocked to hear that the mall was never open. They checked their car boot and found that all the things they bought had turned into a bunch of twigs, leaves and dust.

With so many urban legends circling around "The Flooded Mall", we were really excited to delve into this behemoth of a building and see what we could find. This was by-far one of the largest abandoned buildings we have had the good fortune to cover, a few other notable large-scale ones being the Tang Dynasty Village and the Asian Village, which we will be covering in a future memoir as we dig into our archives. It was a absolute post-apocalyptic movie lover's wet dream.

The tripod was very handy indeed

Before beginning our journey, there were bouts of excitement, especially Andrew, who seem overawed by the size of the location. We moved into the cavernous depths of the compound via the east wing. We stared in amazement at the sheer size of the building before stepping past the myriad of broken tiles and glass strewn on the ground. Once we entered the building, we were greeted by the musky odour of moss, dust and Portland cement. The macabre sight of algae running down unfinished walls, wet floors coupled with the constant dripping of water from the upper floor made the whole place seem out of this world. The cooler atmospheric temperature, a result of the thick walls shielding us from the harsh sun, provided a little more comfort than usual.

Large pillars

Squatters' reminder of their existence

The dripping water droplets from the ceiling, which sounded like intermittent footsteps, echoed loudly in the empty hall ahead of us. As we inched our way in, we noticed 3 uniformly spaced-out rectangular holes in the wall, which led to a drop-off into a large pool of algae-tinged water. With the murky bottom of the pool illuminated by the skylight from the gaping roof above, we could safely assume that these 3 holes were the lift door frames, while the flooded pool was actually the basement.

Large irregularly-shaped cement blocks, twisted metal beams, leaves and other debris could be seen lying below the water. Surely, there would be no significant life in the subterranean levels, which were completely submerged by now, a result of twelve years' worth of rainwater. But there were fishes! And the mosquitoes were having a field day, biting away at our legs. We were quite certain that the countless stagnant pools of water around the compound would have perpetuated the numbers of mosquitoes in this area.

Flooded basement

Making our way further in, we faced a gigantic stairway of sorts. We later found out from one of our neighbouring friends, that this area was originally meant to be a hotel. What a majestic sight it would have been, a wide marble staircase with chandeliers hanging from both sides. However, it was just an unfinished, cement-screeded stairway standing in front of us, beckoning us to move into the upper levels.

Interesting flights of stairs

Unfinished work

Climbing up the stairs, we noticed that the steps were chipped and chiseled in many places. As we got closer and closer to the 2nd floor, the light from above got brighter and brighter. Peeking at the 2nd level from the stairs, we could make out a giant courtyard lighted by open holes along the top part of its walls, probably meant to be covered up by glass panels to provide natural light.

Holes in the ground

Empty 'courtyard'

With both our feet firmly planted on the 2nd level, we combed the surrounding corridors before proceeding to the main courtyard. Standing in the middle of it, we could imagine escalators ferrying people from both sides to the 3rd level, and some old-style elevators moving up into the uppers reaches of the hotel. An old plastic Coke bottle and a couple of Styrofoam food boxes reminded us of squatters who were once staying here. Sticking to the shadows, we moved towards the staircase furthest away from us at the rear end of the courtyard.

Another reminder

As we approached the staircase, we noticed that it was very well lit, and wet from the showers that had passed over this area briefly earlier in the morning. Driven by the fact that this would lead us to the unfinished portion of the 3rd floor, we ascended the algae infested stairs carefully. It lead to a promontory of sorts, overlooking the unused road below, as well as an eagle-eyed view of the buildings around the area, surrounding the mall.

Coming back down, we decided to make our way towards the west wing. Unfortunately, the entire wall leading to the west wing was fully bricked up. This was probably to demarcate the hotel and mall areas. A portion of the wall looked freshly cemented up. Maybe there was an opening to the other side, but it's gone now. We had to look for other ways to get to the west wing. Spotting a door leading into the darkness in the far corner of the second level, we moved towards it, torch in hand.

There's stairs over there

Interior crumbling as well

Entering the dusty corridor beyond the door, our path illuminated by the torch, we faced a long pathway, probably a service corridor. Walking down this corridor, we made a right turn and entered a staircase leading upstairs. Moving up to the 3rd floor, we were faced with ankle deep waters flooding the floors. On the fourth level, we heard the familiar screeching of bats coming from within the dark confines of the service corridor. This floor too, was completely flooded with ankle deep water and the deafening cacophony of bats.

Avoiding the possibility of becoming covered in bat poo, we continued onwards to the 5th floor, arriving at yet another rain flooded floor. Decided against wading in ankle deep waters and being bitten by plenty of mosquitoes weren't very feasible indeed. We then decided that the best way to the west wing may be from the ground floor. As we went down the stairs, Andrew pointed out a map on the 4th floor landing. We took a shot of it for posterity before heading out to the rear area of the 3rd floor. The rear portion of the 3rd floor looked like it was constructed for a large department store. We were disappointed to find that the wall to the left had been bricked up as well. And so, onward we went, back to the ground floor to search for a way to enter the west wing.

You are here

Re-entering the compound through an off-centre opening, we saw a long, dark hallway lined with shop lots on both sides, leading into a pitch black void. A quick check with our torch showed that the inner reaches were severely flooded and unsafe to venture into, with the collapsed beams and corroded vents from the ceiling jutting all over the place. Water had become a main culprit of this mall's undoing, it seems. Irony, for water could bring life to others, and destroy all in its way at the same time.

Exiting the corridor, we walked along the exterior of the building towards the carpark entrance. A shady looking guy in blue with a white cap, who was walking towards us at that point in time, approached us with a wide smile, reeking of cigarette smoke and profusely shaking both our hands. Eyeing Andrew's tripod and camera, he explained in halting English and Malay that he was a site surveyor. Perhaps any thoughts of negativity towards us, were negated by our tripods and monopods in hand, which acted as a deterrence? He was way too friendly and creepy in our opinion. A squatter, possibly?

As we entered the carpark entrance, we realized that there were several skid marks on the circular ramp. This skid marks were thin and too near to each other to have been a car. From this, we think that this must have been the various bikers who have came in to the abandoned carpark to hang out. It might be too much to speculate that these are junkies as well, but who knows.

After a long walk up 4 floors along the circular ramp, we arrived at the carpark. Flooded and algae-infested like the rest of the building, we took advantage of the wonderful contrast created by the light entering from the far ends of the carpark, snapping away with our trusty cameras.

Beauty in chaos

We then went up via the same ramp to the 5th floor parking area, which was similar to the one below except for a large ramp in the middle leading up to the roof. While we were taking our photos, we heard someone starting a motorbike nearby to where we were. The deafening engine exhaust got louder when an Indian man appeared with his bike from behind a blind corner. Shocked by our presence, he made a about-turn before riding into the distance, probably to use another ramp to get down. We later found out that there were 3 ramps leading in and out of this carpark.

Walls of algae

Islands of pillars

We proceeded up to the roof and were met with a large open space, which spanned the entire perimeter of this building. The warmth of the sun was a welcome change from the stale, musty air within the walls of the compound. Making our way to the far end of the roof terrace, we made our way back down to the ground floor via the west ramp, taking more photos along the way.

Roof ramp

Expansive roof

Masuk for Captain Obvious

Arriving at the ground floor, past a crude barricade of sandbags, plastic barriers and cement, we turned left to walk to the glass doors which led back into the mall. A void empty space, like the other parts of the mall, greeted us beyond the stained glass walls. Deducing from the wide space, which was fully cut-off from the rest of the mall by a solid wall, this could have been an anchor tenant. Some supermarket or department stall, perhaps? Walking to the back of the mall, we found another similar entrance to the mall. This probably led back into the main mall area, with the same collapsed ceiling, vents and flooded flooring.

One of many entrances

Yet another flooded portion of the building

Where the wild roam as well

As we exited the area, we walked away satisfied with what we had photographed. While there weren't any illegal squatters loitering in the building like we first expected when we entered the premises rather apprehensively, finding the various objects alone within the compound does give some indication of the presence of people in the building. Could the urban legend stories have driven them away? Mosquitos? Flooding? Perhaps they come back only in the evening? That is something we can only guess.

From our sources, we understand that "The Flooded Mall" will be refurbished and turned into a mega-mall soon. If that does happen, then we are truly glad to have captured this building in its unfinished glory, a memoir we will not soon forget.

(We would like our dear readers to note that any stories we mentioned about the place earlier in this memoir, are generally urban legends which have not been proven. These stories are highly plausible, and we do welcome our readers who have any information to come forth and contact us.)

Peaceful somehow

View more photos in slideshow on Flickr

'The Flooded Mall' album on Flickr

We would prefer not to disclose the location details of this particular building, as it would invite trouble makers to spoil the beauty of urban exploration. Information is only available by word of mouth via trusted folks in the urban exploration circle. Please refrain from info disclosure if you do know. Thank you!

Article and photos copyright of Aaron Chan & Andrew (熊赴龍).

Forgotten places, secret spots, lost historical sites or having some interesting info to share? Is there a location/venue you want the One-North Explorers to feature?

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  1. Beautiful pictures with detailed information. Highly recommended site

  2. I love your site and all these posts on forgotten locations! Great job. Where is this abandoned mall located... Singapore or Malaysia?

  3. Judging from the Malay words shown in the photo of the carpark ramp's entrance, I figure it is in Malaysia, since Singapore never used other languages in public buildings except English. Even if they were in Chinese, they would have English as well alongside, so it suggests that the builders were expecting a Malay-literate traffic.