While John worked and while I wasn’t doing my best to recover from the 14 hours of time difference, I loaded up a day bag, my travel book and started to explore the city. I took a cab to the city center starting at the Central Market. I couldn’t help but notice that the cabbie played the best of Kenny G during the entire ride.
Kuala Lumpur is actually a relatively new city and so the city market was founded in 1888 is one of their oldest structures. It’s packed with various vendors selling everything from headscarves for proper Muslim ladies to children’s trinkets to antiques. The 2nd floor features a sort of Malaysian food court, which I was never so happy to find. The stalls were representative of the different ethnic groups in Malaysia. About 50% of the people in Malaysia are Malay, about 22% are Chinese and about 7% are Indian. The remaining 12% are indigenous. I tried a very interesting looking dish with bits of chicken and rice in with a liberal amount of brown sauce. I was hungrier after I ate. Second lunch needed today, I thought. Immediately after thinking this, I rebuked myself for being a terrible Westerner with an insatiable appetite. Okay, maybe a snack then.
I noticed that the foot court had a station with a sink, soap, and paper towels. I saw several individuals go to this area and wash their hands. How clever and hygienic.
After I filled my bag with souvenirs for the kids, I set off to see, well, whatever I found. That’s the beauty of traveling. I love to explore and actually let myself get lost in a place and let it speak to me.
The sky rumbled and it rained. The 80 plus degree weather turned steamier. Filth from the streets rose up in rivers. My flip-flops were not prepared for this. I figured the rain would let up. Rain poured down on the red tiled roves in China town. I walked down the streets there seeing lots of restaurants, more steam but from food cooking, chickens crated in an alley awaiting a perilous fate.
As I was combing the streets, I stumbled onto the Gudai Temple Chinese Temple. It too was built in 1888 and houses the legendary copper Guan Dao sward. People believe that this sword has special powers to protect whoever can lift or touch it. To be honest, the feeling I had when I entered the crowded temple was that I didn’t belong. It wasn’t that anyone seemed to mind that I was there. But, I was sorely out of place. I felt like an interloper on others’ spiritual moment. Despite this, the coiled incense hanging throughout the temple was itself meditative.
People approached various placed in the temple, lit incense, and performed a sort of ritual with their hands. Was it an offering? Was this a way to illicit the gods? I wasn’t sure but dying to know. I could have sat for hours just taking it all in. Instead, I took a few pictures and quietly left.