A Chinese Shrine in Kuala Lumpur

Yesterday when I wrote about the Indian Temple I failed to mention that on the same street is also a wonderful Chinese Shrine for you to visit if you’ve never been to one.  Like other Chinese shrines I’ve been to they have the same distinctive red colour and a pair of dragons lining the entrance.

This shrine, however, too must have been newly renovated and the colours were so vibrant it made you forget that you were anywhere but in China.   I felt as if I had entered another world, away from the traditional Kuala Lumpur.
There were chinese characters everywhere and smoke from the incense swirled up into the air.  I particularly loved the spring shaped incense at this temple. I had never seen them anywhere else and they were hung by the entrance with notes attached to them.  Beautiful.

If you get a chance to walk down the street, stop by the chinese shrine for a little escape into a calm and peaceful world.  It reminds us of how many cultures can survive together in peace.  Imagine on this street in muslim kuala lumpur are both a hindu and chinese shrine coexisting in harmony.  If only our world was always like this.


A Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur

Thinking back to my trip in Kuala Lumpur, there are still a few things I have yet to write about so I thought I’d write a bit more on it for those who plan to take a visit there.  There is a street called Jalan Tun H.S. Lee not too far from Chinatown that is home to a few shops selling all the party goods you could possibly want and interestingly a Hindu temple. 

The temple had just been renovated when I went there and the colours were bright and vibrant.  I must say its my first time inside a Hindu temple.  There is one in Bangkok, which I must admit I have still yet to visit.  It is on my “to-do” list.
The entrance is uniquely hindu with all the sculptures of the hindu gods.  Many deities are depicted on the pyramidal shape above the front door and painted in a variety of colours.   I see Ganesh, the diety that takes shape of an elephant.  Others, I am not so sure of their names.  The colours are striking though and very unique. It makes my senses tingle as it does when I experience something new.

Observing the ritual, I was asked to remove my shoes.  There is a place to put the shoes and they are guarded by a few people so you can be sure your shoes won’t get lost.

Upon entering, I found a big hall with a centre clove where I suppose the main deity is placed.  A few worshipers sit by the columns and watch the tourists walk around gathering in all the sights.  It’s fascinating.. Incense burns in the middle sending out waves of smoke and a temple guardian walks around preparing things of worship.

I walk around and observe the peaceful atmosphere and feel as if I’ve seen a prelude of India.  One day I will have to visit the country of the Taj Mahal and learn about it’s culture.  There are so many places to visit in this lifetime, I shall have to start making a list.
Temples, churches and all places of worship are all peaceful and calm.  Even since the times of the Egyptians.  I wonder why we can’t make our outside world equally calm.

Hari Raya Mozz Cato Cookies

Mozz Cato Cookies

Happy Hari Raya Day!! 🙂 Today is a special day in the islam world and I have only recently learnt what it means.  Every year on my calendar, I would see that all the islam countries would have this day off a national holiday but I never understood its significance until my previous trip to Malaysia.  Today is the end of Ramadan and it is a big celebration.

From my understanding, it is a bit like Christmas.  Family members gather together for the Friday prayer.  There is a special prayer for the end of Ramadan and all those who attend, dress up in their best traditional clothes.  It’s a time for celebration.

Shops are filled with shoppers buying gifts and special delicacies are cooked up for the celebration.  Family members from around the country unite together.  Prisoners are released from jail as acts of good faith.  It is a day of celebration and good deeds.

On my visit there, my friend bought me these wonderfully delicious traditional cookies. The cookies were made fresh with these wonderfully buttery flour stuffed with carameled pineapple inside.   They were just lovely bite sized and melted in your mouth (not in your hands.)  The pineapple stuffing gave it a slight sweet taste, but it wasn’t too sticky or chewy. 
I’ve had some cookies before which were of the same kind with pineapple stuffing, but the flour was always too hard and the pineapple so hard that it stuck to your teeth.

Anyways, if you’re looking for something to bring home, I recommend these cookies from Mozz Cato.  They are available at Parsons department store.  They also have other kinds of cookies and they were all equally delicious with lovely packaging.  I wish I had brought some more back home! 🙂

“Festive” Ramadan

The display at KLCC Suria

We know muslims fast, but do we know why?  Something new I learnt about “Ramadan,” when muslims around the world fast for a month each year, is that it is actually a “festive” season for muslims!   Eventhough I have muslim friends and have witnessed them fasting through school, I just always recognized it as a month when they would be not be eating during the day.  It didn’t sound very festive to me.   I knew it was according to the lunar calendar, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.   Little did I know it was “festive” until I found myself in the minority and surrounded by a different world.

Ramadan, my friend taught me was a time of purification.  Fasting is a time when they ask for forgiveness for past sins, and in turn do good deeds and restrain themselves from dawn till dusk.   It’s a time of self-contemplation when one is to forgo worldy activities and get intouch with God.   Ramadan is also said to be an auspicious month in which the Prophet Muhammad first revealed the verses of the Koran. 

During the ramadan month “Charity” is a virtue that is encouraged and donation boxes are set up in each mosque.   All those who go pray during ramadan, give donations which would later me sent out to those in need.   It also is a time when families buy gifts for one another and do good things for one another.  Shoppers abound.

In the evenings, large groups of families gather together to “break” fast and celebrate. Times when they “break” fast each evening differ from city to city depending upon the sunset.   It’s a time of unification and celebration.  Restaurants organize bangquets and buffets, and traffic jams ensue.  Everyone is rushing to get to the restaurants on time.

I was fortunate enough to attend one such banquet with my friend’s family and what an event it was.  Large tables of families gathered around, eating, laughing and celebrating.  A variety of traditional Malaysian food could be found from rotis, curry noodles, to roasted lamb.    Everything was delicious and definitely a “feast.”  Long lines gathered in front of each stall and especially infront of the roast lamb.   Children ran around whilst parents ate and mingled.

I am told that in the middle-east, such celebrations continue into the wee hours of the morning.  Celebration is done in an even larger scale there.  What an experience that must be.

Ramadan is so festive that everywhere I went, there were special cookies and gifts out on display.  Shopping mall decorations had an islamic flare to it, somewhat like what you would get during New Years.   Dancing and shows are performed for all to see and beautiful hand-woven materials are put on display.  Ramadan is also a time when muslims around the world dress up in their traditional clothes to go celebrate.

The festivities end with Hari Raya, the day when the fasting ends, and when everyone gathers together to pray.  In majority-islam countries, it is considered a national holiday.

Away from my buddhist world, I discover another facet of this world that I’ve never witnessed before.  All religions teach us to be good people, and all religions have their charm to it.  I was definitely touched by my time in KL, and especially by my exposure to islam.  Actually knowing something and thinking you “know” something isn’t the same.

Malaysia’s Chinatown: Petaling Street Beef Noodles

Egg noodles with chilli

Happy Weekend!  It’s been one week since I went to KL, gosh time goes fly by fast.   If you are in KL, a fun street to go walk around is “Jalan Petaling.”  It’s the main walking street in KL’s Chinatown.  It reminds me somewhat of Khaosan road with all the roadside stalls selling everything you could possible want from brand name bags to sunglasses.  It’s a fun walk. 

 Just outside the entrance to Jalan Petaling though is a local “Beef noodle” soup pllace called “Shin kee.”  Housed in a pale yellow shop house it’s a tiny space crammed with chairs and tables and you have to move for others to get out, but the food is worth it.  As in Thai noodle shops, you have a choice of having the noodle with soup, or without, with just beef balls or with also sliced beef. 

The shop front

 At first I had the noodles with soup and it was just aromatic and delicious.  The egg noodles are slightly fatter and have a different texture to that in Thailand.  I like it.  Interestingly, it’s served with the Malaysian Chilli Sauce!  I seem to find it everywhere.  

To get the full flavor of the chilli, I ordered a second dish and had it without soup.  So it was basically the yellow egg noodles with chilli.   If you want a side dish of the beef balls with soup, you can also ask them for one.  

 I loved the noodles with chilli sauce.  It felt to me like having spaghetti but instead of with olive oil and dried chilli, its served with the Malaysian chilli.  It’s abit like sundried tomato paste but a little spicy. 

 This Shin Kee beef noodle soup is a great place to stop by and have a light lunch.  It’s only 6 to 8 ringgit (60-80thb) per dish!  Bon Appetit! 😀 

Petaling Walking StreetBeef balls and sliced beef noodle with soup