After arriving late in the evening we decided to enjoy our hotel room with hot showers, air conditioning, and a Tom Cruise movie on TV. Starting our next day energized and refreshed.
Malaysia is a young country only gaining it’s independence in 1963. We thought a perfect way to get a proper introduction to Malaysia would be by taking a guided tour of the National Museum. Our tour guide and the fellow participants of the tour were highly educated Chinese Malaysians. So they catered the tour to teaching us everything they could about their country and the uniqueness of it. We started by learning about the indigenous people and how all the islands and land masses were once connected during the ice age. And once the ice melted individual islands were formed.
We then learned about how the prince of Malay fled to Malacca and had a dream about the Quran. He found traveling Arab merchants in the harbor who explained his dream to him and converted him to Islam. That is how the country in the middle of Hindus and Buddhists became a Muslim country.
We learned about the Portuguese and Dutch invasions. Then finally the colonization by the British. We learned of a ship full of Malaysian treasures sinking to the bottom of the sea. Never to be found until today. Does anyone want to fund our deep sea expedition???
We then had to leave the tour to be able to enter the National Mosque before afternoon prayers.
At the National Mosque we were approached by a Muslim “priest”, who spoke to us at length about Islam. How sacred women are and how only crazy fundamentalists mistreat women. How the Quran only mentions one woman by name and that is the Holy Mother, Mary. Not even Muhammad’s mothers name is mentioned. He then tried to make a joke about how a Mosque is a place of worship and no bombs are made here. It was kinda odd and I didn’t know if I was supposed to laugh.
Afterwards we headed to Merdeka Square, Independence Square. Where the first National Flag was flown. This is a Square across the street from the beautiful Sultan Abdul Samad building. It currently is government offices but it is beautiful to look at even if you can’t go inside.
Next we visited the National Textile Museum to learn how Batik printing is done. At the museum we sat and enjoyed the boutique cafe. It is owned and ran by a Master Chef of Malaysia. I guess he is a celebrity in Malaysia. The cafe is decorated beautifully in old eclectic antiques. We enjoyed his grandmothers banana brownie and a Ice Cream Flavored Soda. The beverage of choice of wealthy colonial families. It felt as though we were transported back in time.
Then we walked to the oldest Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Masjid Jamek Mosque. We were supposed to do the 2:30 pm tour but apparently it was cancelled because of the rain making the granite slick and a safety hazard. So we were not permitted in.
We then walked around Chinatown and visited the Central Market. Which was basically overpriced items from Thailand. I wanted a Batik printed skirt since we visited the textile museum. So I splurged the $15 for it. We enjoyed some local fruit and dim sum, along with an iced herbal Chinese fruit tea that is said to have healing properties.
On our second day we made an early start for Batu Caves. A Hindu worship temple built around a giant cavern. This is one of the most recognized sites in all of Malaysia. We climb the steps to the top and enjoying the company of the monkeys along the way. After our decent we treated ourselves to a vegetarian dish and a fresh coconut to drink. We got to witness a Hindu wedding and were invited to the reception. We weren’t sure if it was some crazy uncles inviting us, so we politely declined.
We then walked around Chinatown visiting Chan See Shue Yuen Clan House then Guan Yin Temple.
Afterwards we we stopped for lunch in an open air restaurant (food court). You would find a table, order your food from the different stands, point at your table, then sit and wait for your food to arrive. A waitress came around taking drink orders and clearing the tables. We enjoyed three different items from three different vendors. We had the chicken and rice, a fried noodle dish, and La La soup (Imagine Phó with a lot clamshells in it, like Asian Chipino). Our iced tea with condensed milk came in lovely Asian Guinness pint glasses. This entire lunch cost us around $6.
After lunch we headed into Little India for some shopping. Then we visited Sri Manhamariamman Temple. An engagement party was being set up. The floor was decorated with a beautiful peacock for the celebration. We met a nice man who shared with us about the Hindu Faith and a local miracle. He was extremely knowledgeable and easy to talk to.
Afterwards we made the mistake of taking the free bus during rush hour traffic to the Petronas Twin Towers. We got off at a stop then took an above ground, covered, air conditioned beautiful walkway to the towers. We met two men that showed us where to take our photos. They were extremely nice. Afterwards we wanted to eat on the famous Jalan Alor Food Street. We found the traditional Malaysian restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating that the one man recommended to us. We chose to sit in the air conditioning, even though the outdoor seats were livelier. We ordered cockles, razor clams, chicken and beef satays, fried rice, prawns and eggplant and a large bottle water. They charged us for 2 napkins and a service charge. For a grand total of $16.00.
We really enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur. I would return anytime!