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Published: November 1st 2009
The Masjid Jamek.
We're a bit relieved to be married again. We were worried about losing our wedding rings during our travels so we left them at home in Adrian's mum's completely indestructible safe. Although we'd planned on picking up some inexpensive wedding bands before leaving San Francisco, we didn't get around to it and so have been ringless until today. It's a weird feeling and we each keep playing absentmindedly with our ring fingers. Thankfully, our nearby mall came to the rescue with some cheapie options - so for $2 US (Angelique) and $9 US (Adrian) we are now again joined in blissful matrimony (Angelique is toying with the idea of upgrading to a ring with more bling once we arrive in Singapore).
Continuing our Islamic education, this morning we took the light rail over to Masjid Jamek, a particularly beautiful mosque which was built in 1907 by a British architect. It looks like it belong on the top of a wedding cake - all pink and cream with gorgeous onion-shaped domes, graceful arches, marble floors and delicate carvings. We weren't able to walk into the prayer hall but, after gowning up again, did walk around the outside of it. It's a peaceful oasis in the midst of run-down, central KL.
Nearby is the Central Market, an enormous powder blue Art Deco building bursting at the seams with hundreds of stall of vendors selling everything imaginable. We saw the first of several Fish Spas (Dr. Fish). These are jacuzzi tubs filled with water and lots of hungry fish that want very badly to eat all the dead skin cells off the bottom of your feet. You sit on the edge for about 10 or 20 minutes and the little guys get to work. We're strangely fascinated with this win/win concept but haven't tried it - yet.
Chinatown 's main pedestrian street, Petaling, is just across from the Central Market. We spent about an hour wandering through it in the hot, humid sun. It's packed with people selling T-shirts, fake Gucci bags, designer sun glasses, tropical fruit (we picked up rambutans - 1/2 kg for $0.80 US - YUM!), noodles and all kinds of things that someone (but not us) will take home for dinner: fresh (?) fish, skinned chickens, intestines, etc. Enterprising cooks line dark alleys where people sit on little plastic chairs to eat. (aside to Eva: we even found the bao guy!). We had just had breakfast and weren't ready for lunch so we next walked over to Merdeka Square, a large grassy cricket field where, on 8/31/57, Malaysia declared independence from Britian. One one side it is lined with mock Tudor style buildings which housed an exclusive club during colonial times (and it's also the place where the running/drinking club, the Hash House Harriers, kicked off in 1938).
Ready for lunch, we took the light rail back to KLCC and then walked down to Bukit Bintang, the premier shopping area of KL. One end of this long avenue is more like Rodeo Drive, the other, a bit like the Vegas strip. We had lunch (more excellent noodle dishes - and a green tea cream puff) in one of the massive mall food courts and then poked around in the stores. We are feeling a bit slovenly. In the big cities thus far people have been dressed really nicely compared to us. In KL, the Malay women wear designer jeans, long or 3/4 sleeved beautiful shirts, strappy sandals and beautiful silk headscarves (covering all of their hair but not their faces) and often adorned with rhinestones or a sparkly pin. Adrian picked up a new black shirt to wear to nice restaurants/bars with his jeans. Angelique is still looking for a suitable little dress and is cursing her last minute decision not to bring her little black dress from Title 9 that would actually be perfect. Ugh.
The clouds were gathering again for a storm so we walked back to our hotel and relaxed for a few hours in our luxurious air conditioned room. For dinner we headed back over to the shopping district to the upscale Starhill Gallery, which has a number of nice bars and restaurants on its ground level. One had been written up by Time Out as a place to try excellent and authentic Malaysian food. We had cocktails at one of the bars (a Manhattan for Adrian; a delicious lychee martini for Angelique) and then had dinner. The food was good - but not substantially better than the food courts where you can get a great meal for $3 US. KL definitely has some great bargains.
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