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Published: February 13th 2015
This is how my KL weekend started...
... with a customised Magnum. Vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate coating, almond flakes, chocolate crunch, oreo crumbs, a touch of sea salt, and some white chocolate on top. Seven million calories, but just... Hmmm...
During the last few months I have been spending quite a lot of time in Kuala Lumpur – so much time that sometimes I said it would make sense for me to rent a second flat in KL. However, most of the time I flew there in the early morning and back in the evening or at most I arrived the evening before the meeting or training. But end of January I had one training in KL scheduled for a Friday and another one for the subsequent Monday, so I decided that I might as well stay over the weekend and do some more sightseeing.
I arrived in KL on Thursday afternoon and, as things go here, after catching the airport express to KL Sentral I needed to participate in a telephone conference with Hong Kong. This had not quite planned, so I sat down at Starbuck’s and had a 90 minute telco. Only after that I met my colleagues from KL and finished preparations for the training the next day. I won’t bore you with all my work stories. My weekend started on Friday night, after the training, with a nice dinner with my colleagues Sharma and Tishal and
Merdeka Square I
Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Nowaday it houses the Ministry of Heritage, Culture, and Arts.
– highlight of the day – with a customised Magnum. Yes, correct. In the shopping mall just around the corner from the KL office, in Mid Valley, there is a shop where you can customise your Magnum ice cream. This means you choose a small Magnum, either vanilla or chocolate flavour, then you choose three toppings (which can be as exotic as sea salt or rose petals), and finally you choose a coating, either dark or milk or white chocolate. I am sure this ice cream has about a million calories, but the taste was worth every single calorie!
On Saturday morning I went for a morning run and then caught the train from KL Sentral to a train station close to Central Market and from there I walked to Merdeka Square. Merdeka Square means Independence Square and this square is in fact the place where Malaysia declared its independence from the Britain on 31st August 1957. It used to be the cricket ground, that’s why there is a huge meadow in its centre. It is surrounded by different buildings. On one side there is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which was built in a style inspired by Indian
Merdeka Square II
View from the North side of the square towards the former cricket field and flag pole, with Sultan Abdul Samad Building in the background.
Moghul architecture by a British architect in the early 20th century. It now houses the Ministry of Heritage, Culture, and Arts, and currently there is an exhibition on various Malaysian sites that have become UNESCO World Heritage such as Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. On the North side of the square there is St. Mary’s Anglican Church and on the opposite side there is the huge flag pole from which the Union flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag was hoisted in 1957.
From Merdeka Square I walked along the river back to Central Market. It opened in the late 19th century as an open wet market and later a permanent structure was built. Today you can buy art and handicraft products there. I had a coffee there and continued to Chinatown, which is not far away. There was a route that I followed that took me past the old shop houses that are still there from the late 19th and early 20th century. Probably the most well-known part of Chinatown in KL is Petaling Street. You can get all kinds of fake products there and I am sure there is something from every designer brand. Also you can buy
Masjid Jamek reflected in the glass windows of a building.
Chinese herbs and all kinds of food. I am sure with a bit of bargaining you can get really good deals at the stalls that are packed close to each other and that offer almost everything you can think of. However, I did not bargain nor did I buy anything. Instead, I continued to a Gurdwara Polis Sahib Sikh Temple. It was built by the Malay government as a place of worship for the Sikh police force. However, I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing to see – only something that looked like an altar, but covered with a big cloth. I continued to the next temple, Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple. It is one of KL’s oldest and probably most beautiful Hindu temples. It is devoted to Mariamman, a goddess who is seen as a manifestation of Parvati, the mother earth. Apparently she is worshipped by Tamil people. The temple is full of colourful statues and carvings. Below its central roof there are several smaller shrines and around the central buildings there are more altars and reliefs. Everywhere I went I could see that people were preparing for a Hindu festival that was going to take place the
THE shopping street in Chinatown.
following weekend. The last temple I visited that day was the Chinese Guan Di Temple, more or less opposite the Hindu temple. I was amazed by the number of joss sticks that were incensed throughout the temple and that covered the whole place in smoke!
After my walk around the temple I went to the National Museum of Malaysia, which is located right between KL Sentral and the Lake Gardens. It showcases Malaysia’s history from the early stone-age until today, so there was a lot to learn. Around the building there are outdoors displays of transportation in Malaysia from the old days to present. One of the highlights is definitely the old Terengganu timber palace called Istana Satu, built in traditional Malay architecture. It is made of wood and built on stilts with stairs leading up into the building.
After my museum visit I returned to my hotel to relax a little bit before my colleague Tishal came to pick me up for a team dinner with the KL team and my colleague Ellen, who works as an associate with us and who was going to continue the training I had started the previous day. We had some
Old shop houses in Chinatown
Very colourful and a touch of early 20th century.
super nice Indian food and very nice evening. Thank you Sharma, Fiona, Tishal, Sunil, and Ellen!
On Sunday morning I caught a train to Batu Caves, a Hindu temple that is situated in a limestone cave just outside KL. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Murugan. It was only a 30 minute train ride to get there. From the train station I walked along the bottom of the hill, where there are a few smaller temples already. But then there is the main temple. At the bottom of the 272 stairs that lead up to the temple there is a huge golden statue of Lord Murugan. I walked up all the stairs and was glad that there were not too many people since the stairs are quite steep and I wanted to walk all the way up without having to stop.
At the top of the stairs there is another statue, and then a few stairs lead down into the cave. There are a few colourful statues on both sides of the cave and on the other end of it a few stairs lead up to a spot where the cave opens up and one can
Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple I
... in Chinatown - the entrance.
see the sun and sky above its steep walls. There is a shrine that has many statues on its roof and there was a priest inside this shrine that conducted some kind of ceremony that involved joss sticks and ultimately painting a yellow blotch onto worshippers’ foreheads. After returning to the bottom of the hill I had a look around, but I was not impressed with the surroundings since the ground was completely covered with rubbish. So I caught the train back to KL Sentral.
From there I went for a walk around nearby Little India – after having a late lunch or early (of course Indian) dinner. Little India is also called Brickfields. The name is based on the history of the area: After a big flood that destroyed the wooden buildings in KL in 1881 the British Resident ordered that houses be built in brick and tile. The bricks were manufactured in Brickfields and this is also where all the Indian workers who worked there started settling. Nowadays there are of course many Indian shops and restaurants in the area. However, there are also quite a few temples. I somehow ended up in a Buddhist temple, Maha
Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple II
... in Chinatown - relief in the temple.
Vihara, where a very friendly lady gave me various books and a CD with chanting on it. I even sat for a very short meditation before leaving the temple with its peaceful atmosphere. I walked past another Hindu temple and past the Tamil Methodist Church (obviously Christian, but people still left their shoes in front of the door) and then back to my hotel. I picked up my luggage and caught a train to Subang Jaya where I was going to spend the night (four nights, three different hotels) because it was close to where my training would take place the next day. On Monday evening, after the training, I flew back to Singapore – after so many different impressions in KL!
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