A slice of Croatia in the heart of Kuala Lumpur
By NG WEI LOON
THE Uptown Place, or âœLittle Croatiaâ? as it is affectionately known, is intended to display the Croatian culture, tradition and hospitality to locals as well as foreign visitors.
The Croatian ambassador Zeljko Cimbur, who launched the club, said the Croatian embassy endorsed and supported the idea of having a Croatian club as a meeting place for all.
âœWe have left our bitter war memories behind us to move forward. We want to build a good relationship with Malaysia as we see the potential of developing bilateral ties,â? Cimbur added.
Although the outlet's co-owner Erwin A. Jullius has assimilated well into Malaysian society, he wanted to introduce the traditional and cultural identity of his roots.
Jullius (left) and Cimbur at the launch.
The 33 year-old, who originated from Croatia has been residing here since 1994 working in the food and beverage industry. He has married a Malaysian Chinese from Malacca and even obtained Malaysian citizenship two years ago.
He spent his first six months in the country staying in rural villages to adapt to the Malaysian way of life.
âœIt helps a lot to understand the local culture. Given the opportunity, I am dedicated to learn.
âœI would also like to share my experiences with others,â? said Jullius, who converses in Bahasa Malaysia and Hokkien.
âœGreat ideas come naturally to me. But, my biggest obstacle is to find the funds to realise these dreams,â? the father of a five year-old girl and two year-old boy added.
The simple establishment at Changkat Bukit Bintang started its operation in October last year. It was a result of Julliusâ™ business partnership with an English lady Erika Maitland.
The warmth and friendliness at the drinking joint makes it a melting pot for patrons from different backgrounds and cultures.
It offers Croatian liqueurs like Travariea and Pelinkovac along with the soothing tunes of Croatian romantic and folk songs sung by the legendary Oliver Dragojevic 'u Areni.
Niell Hogg, who is a regular, said the place has the ability to draw people together.
âœJust look around, itâ™s easy to start a conversation and share experience with others,â? said Hogg, who works as an IT consultant.
English tourists Michael Parkinson and Paddy Lawler, who arrived in the city as a stopover before Australia, were also seen having a good time there.
Some of the 50 members of the Croatiaâ™s folk dance ensemble Lado led by general manager Ivana Lusic who were in the city to perform as part of its Asia Pacific tour were also present at the launch.
The group established in 1949 presents traditional Croatian regional dances.
Mireal Coko, 29 from Singapore took the opportunity to mingle around with the members of the group.
âœI grew up abroad. But, I am a Croatian at heart. The Lado represents Croatian heritage because of its originality in dance choreography, musical instruments and costumes,â? she said.