Published: August 15th 2013August 15th 2013
Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
One of the oldest and most elaborate Hindu Temples in Malaysia, with a 22 meter high gate tower and portico.
On our first morning in Kuala Lumpur we ventured out of the Swiss Inn Hotel and into the mind-spinning kaleidoscope of Chinatown. One of the first things we came upon was several street vendors selling garlands of marigolds, which made us think "Hindu celebration" and then we spotted the extremely ornate Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu Temple, one of the very oldest in Kuala Lumpur. I felt I was channeling our friend Selvaraj as we approached it and were encouraged to go inside, first depositing our shoes at the shoe-holding booth.
Amazing place! It was a Friday and a service was going on, so of course no photos inside, but later we went back and took some from the outside, as you can see.
Kuala Lumpur is a sparkling city crowded with new high-rise buildings of all shapes and designs--I've never seen such variety of architecture, seemingly a competition about who can put up the next new design idea. There also seems to have been a huge investment in infrastructure in recent years, and we were amazed when we got to the major bus depot, which was as glistening as a new hospital.
Setting the scene for our bus
Ganesh detail on temple
Elaborately carved Hindu deities cover the front and insides of this temple.
trip: When Sky was just a baby, Phil and I were living in St. Leonards in a share house with two other women, one of whom ONCE cooked a marvelous sago pudding she called Gula Melaka. So it was with sweet anticipation that we took a day trip to the historic spice-route trading city of Melaka, on the southwest coast of Malaysia.
No sooner had we stepped off the bus than we were accosted by "Cowboy Lim", who insisted that we take a ride in his trishaw. We wanted to do nothing of the kind, but he was most insistent, and pulled out a book showing signatures and comments by previous customers, including Australians a couple pages back (as if this was a tipping point bit of information). We said we needed lunch first, but he had an answer to every question and said he would pedal us to a good lunch spot and not begin charging till we had finished eating. So finally we gave in (rationalizing that we should contribute something to the local economy) and next thing we knew this wiry man, older than me and much lighter in weight than me, was pedaling
Temple in urban context S
Sandwiched among the other buildings of Chinatown, this amazing temple suddenly appears.
our combined bulk through the narrow streets of the old city, to the acute embarrassment of Phil who noticed that other tourists had started to take pictures of US
, the insensitive foreigners who would have such an old man pedal our two selves through the heat of the day. (Oh groan!)
Once in the old section of Melaka, we were surrounded by very seasoned buildings, some going back to the time of the Dutch. The city has layer upon layer of all of its past as a major port, having been colonised in succession by the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British.
Cowboy Lim was full of ideas on where he should take us and enthusiastically told tales about the things we saw, all of which were very entertaining but some of whose veracity I had reason to doubt. The "hour" we thought we had booked seemed to stretch on very generously and finally we began to wonder if this ride would never end. At last we excused him, pleading that we needed to stop for a coffee, at which point he pulled out his pad and began to tote up the time we owed him. Suffice it to
KL Bus terminal
Bus terminal of a shiny new KL.
say, it was well more than an hour.
At the waterside cafe where we did finally get our coffee I asked if they had "Gula Melaka" and was told I couldn't order it because it just meant sugar, actually the locally famous sugar taken from the palm tree. However they did have gula melaka icecream, so I ordered that. It turned out to be a very sweet, somewhat molasses-y, flavour. It wasn't the pudding I'd coveted, but it became a marker on the pathway of my quest.
Two days later we found the restaurant in the Sentral Markets called "Ginger" that Maureen and John had recommended, and they also had Gula Melaka on their menu, so of course I ordered it. But this turned out to be a LARGE bowl of ice with sweet syrup poured over it and green worm-like noodles and nuts sprinkled on the top. I somewhat reluctantly began eating this disappointing oddity and then suddenly realized it was ICE, a no-no for travellers, so I pulled the Travelan
anti-E.coli tablets out of my bag, downed one and left the remainder of the sorry dessert.
I began to wonder if Gula Melaka was a
M&P in Trishaw
The trishaw, which is a bicycle which moves passengers in a sidecar.
false memory, but I have tonight found the recipe on Google, and one day I will revisit its chewy sweetness. Perhaps you'd like to try it too?
There are more photos below