In the middle of Southeast Asia's rainy season, the Muslim population will celebrate Hari Raya Haji on Monday.
This is a great opportunity to visit Malaysia. I invite you to Kuala Lumpur for a walk in the light of the crescent moon.
My fascination with Malaysia began in April 2015 with the first trip to the tropics, which you can read about in this article.
Then the tension only grew ...
I have visited Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaka and Johor Bahru many times. Sometimes on a business trip, sometimes I just dropped by for the weekend, or during longer holidays.
If I had to answer the question what captivates me in Malaysia in few words, I would answer - a mixture of cultures. This is the magnet that draws me to Malaysia.
It is interesting because the neighboring countries are relatively culturally homogeneous. Here, in turn, the mixture of the Muslim culture that Malaya represents, the Chinese culture that you can find in almost every corner of Malaysia and the significant Indian diaspora created a unique atmosphere. The climate that captivated me and at the same time made me feel like an expected guest in Malaysia.
During the first few visits, I had the impression that the city and the country are constantly celebrating :).
Christmas or Easter? Lunar New Year? Hari Raya? Ramadan? Deepavali? Here you are. All celebrated throughout Malaysia, including relevant decorations and public holidays.
I wrote about my first trip to Kuala Lumpur in this article. I also encourage you to review general information on how to get to Malaysia, where to stay and how to get from KLIA airport to the center of Kuala Lumpur, which I wrote about in this article.
Today I would like to invite you for a walk around the historic center of Kuala Lumpur.
The opportunity for this comes along with the lunar calendar. On June 10, this year is Gregorian Monday July 19, Malaysia begins the Hari Raya Haji festival - one of the two most important for Islam, a two-day festival, honoring the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail's life as an act of obedience to God.
The story ended happily, because god, seeing his father's determination, sent a sheep through angels, which Ibrahim had ritually offered to God in place of his own son. Phew ...
Anyway, I have the impression that all religions, except Buddhism, are wasting human and animal lives in the name of love for God. It is at odds with my worldview. Enough to recall one number. During this holiday, only in Pakistan, 10 million animals are ritually killed ...
Rather, let's go for a walk.
We will start at Jalan Hang Kasturi Street, from the Travelodge City Center Hotel, which I already wrote about is one of the best-located hotels in the city.
I really recommend this location. There are several reasons as you will see in a moment.
First of all, it is a three-star hotel at a budget price per night - 35 USD for a 2-person room. The last renovation has come and the rooms have gained a fantastic decor, are really comfortable and the hotel itself is located directly at the Pasar Seni MRT station.
This results in excellent accessibility of this hotel from the airport and any other part of the city. However, one of the most important advantages of this hotel location is the neighborhood and the location in which it is located.
You are in the historical part of Kula Lumpur, where within 10 to 30 minutes of walking you have many sights and attractions of this fantastic city.
So let us go sightseeing together in the moonlight. This is my subjective suggestion for a 2-hour walk.
After leaving the hotel, we will go left where you will see huge images of kites carved in metal forming the portal and the roof of a small street. This is Pasar Seni, the historic Bazaar.
The building is accompanied by an open, covered shopping avenue. If you are not afraid of the heat that lasts all year in Malaysia, you can take a walk between the stalls. These are mostly souvenirs. There are also some with drinks and food.
However, in the building of this bazaar you will find countless shops where you can buy slightly better quality souvenirs and knick-knacks as well as collectibles, works of local artists and silk products.
By the way, it is also a place where you can cool down a bit if you feel hot.
There is no chance that you won't end up in this bazaar. As soon as you leave the hotel, look to the left. You will immediately notice the metal "kites" forming the gate. This is where we begin our walk today.
If you want to shop here, of course you can now. I recommend a separate trip to browse a bit at the bazaar.
We walk along a shaded passage and come to the Old Market Square - today a small square with tasteful colonial-style tenement houses. An interesting fact about this place is the Clock Tower in the middle of the square. We got to Medan Pasar Square, a place where young Malaysians meet to play badminton or practice dance routines or sing songs together. From this square, the streets divide starry in all directions. This is the historic focal point of Kuala Lumpur.
Here you can sit on one of the numerous benches, drink coconut milk or just sit for a while and cool off in the shade of numerous trees. In the arcades of tenement houses you will find many shops with drinks.
Let's go further, slightly left to reach the Klang River.
It is a part of the city that has been beautifully renovated in the last two years. When I was in Kuala Lumpur for the first time, it was just an ordinary river full of pollution, with dirty water and a terrible, inaccessible shore.
In the last few years, however, it was decided to change this state of affairs and the renovation of the boulevard began. Today they are beautifully lit, with a great footbridge and places to take beautiful photos. This part of old Kuala Lumpur is truly delightful. Thanks to the boulevards, we can go further, to the oldest, because opened in 1909, Muslim mosque - Masjid Jamek. It is also where the Klang River meets the Gombak River. This combination of rivers was at the root of the city's name Kuala Lumpur - a place where the smaller river meets the larger one, creating a swampy common stream. Kuala in free translation means - the junction of the rivers and Lumpur - swampy.
Usually this place is closed. You can walk around them, see the old Muslim architecture. During the days when special holidays are celebrated - Hari Raya Haji is one of them - the mosque is open to Muslims. Either way, a walk around Masjid Jamek allows you to get acquainted with the history of this place. There you will find murals with the history of construction, the period of destruction and then rebuilding of this iconic, first main mosque of Kuala Lumpur.
It is worth repeating the walk along the boulevards in the evening, in the moonlight, when they are beautifully illuminated.
We go further, around the mosque to the footbridge, thanks to which we will go to the other side of the Klang River, towards Merdeka Square = Independence Square.
This is the historic center of Kuala Lumpur. Today, many official celebrations take place here. A special feature of this place is the 95-meter-high flagpole on which, since August 31, 1957, a huge Malaysian flag flutters proudly.
This was not always the case, however. During the times of the British colony, this square was used by colonists to play cricket.
But not only the flagpole is a curiosity worth visiting.
To the square, on the west, adjoins the palace of Sultan Abdul Samad on Jalan Ray.
Such a curiosity - all the streets I mention have the word "Jalan" in the name. It means ... "street" in "Bahasa", the official language of Malaysia.
The Sultan's Palace is a beautiful building, decorated in the Saracen style. Turrets with brass domes, oriental ornaments and arcades take us a bit into the world of the fairy tale about Aladdin. The clock tower is 41 meters high and houses a clock that stylishly mimics Big Ben from London. All this is decorated with beautiful greenery on the side of the river and on the other side with Plac Niepodległości. Everything is designed in the shape of the letter F.
The colors of the palace are known as "blood and bandages". It is because of the red brick combined with white arches and decorations surrounding the columns of the arcades.
A fairy-tale place. Completed in 1897, the palace today houses two ministries - Communications and Multimedia and Malaysia's Tourism and Culture.
At the northern frontage of the square, there are pergolas overgrown with vines and equipped with a fogging system. An ideal place for a moment of rest and refreshment. 10 minutes at this point will allow you to gain strength for the next part of the walk.
Cool, we go further south along the palace and come to the City Gallery or Kuala Lumpur.
A place worth visiting. Firstly, because you can take a "selfie" on Instagram with the inscription "I Love Kuala Lumpur" in the background, secondly because the interior of this gallery will allow you to learn about the history of the city, Malaysian culture and watch the performance "light and sound" using a huge model of the city.
After leaving the gallery, we go right, pass the Textile Museum and then right again and we will come along Sultana Hishamuddin Street to the Saracen-style fountain.
Going straight ahead, on the left side you pass the buildings of the main post office and come to the old railway station. This is the city's first Central Station. Currently, only ticket offices and an architectural monument. Again in the Saracen style, with bows and ornaments. Currently, tarnished by time. The white facades are gray with numerous fungi. This place allows you to recreate the atmosphere of old Kuala Lumpur.
On the right, in the distance, you can see the characteristic blue roof. It is the culmination of the National Mosque of Malaysia, currently the most important religious building of this country.
You can go through the underground passage to the other side of the street to visit this mosque.
In the distance, east of the mosque, is the City Park. This is where KL Bird Park is located - a reserve of free-living birds, about which I already wrote in this article. In addition, there is a butterfly house, bat habitat and recreational spaces.
We go left, to the footbridge connecting the street and the car park with the building of the old railway station.
In this way, we will return to the hotel at the end of the morning walk.
I invite you to Jalan Sultan to the Chinese district - China Town.
To take advantage of the culinary offer, we have to go to the right of the hotel exit.
China Town from Jalan Petaling - a Chinese district and bazaar where you can bargain for the price of one of 1,000,000 counterfeit goods of any trade mark in the world. I can only suggest that you can negotiate hard.
It is also a place where you can eat roasted chestnuts or drink a very healthy, traditional Chinese tea. There are countless Chinese restaurants in the area. I recommend the delicious cuisine of China Town Seng Kee on Jalan Sultan, where, in my opinion, it is best to eat steamed fish in lemongrass. For this "morning glory" - asparagus with garlic and tofu. Delicious.
After lunch, in the vicinity of China Town, you will come across other interesting places.
One is the very old and beautiful Hindu Sri Maha Mariamman temple with a colorful gate tower. Please remember to take off your shoes and wear appropriate clothing. Shorts and t-shirts are not allowed.
The second is the Taoist Guan Di Temple. They are both on the same street, about 300 m apart.
At this point, we will end our walk.
The sun is still on the horizon, but if you want to contemplate the views of the boulevards, I invite you again to the Masjid Jamek area.
For dinner, it is worth to return to Jalan Sultan, where you can try not only Chinese specialties but also Indian cuisine. I can assure you that it is worth it.
If you would like to eat a delicious breakfast in the morning, please visit one of the most interesting cafes - LOKL Cafe - at Jalan Tun HS Lee. They serve great "Big Breakfast" and fantastic LOCaL coffee.
We only walked one of the many possible walking routes. In my opinion, this is the first time tourists should go to Kuala Lumpur to understand this city. Feel his "soul".
Even though I have been to KL many times, the city continues to fascinate me.
Today we visited the historic heart of Kuala Lumpur, a place that is a source of tradition and culture.
Of course, a separate topic will be visits to places such as the Petronas Twin Towers, the city park or the Batu Caves. But more on that in the following articles.
I am going in search of the "Malay Excalibur". A sword-relic, which is said to be hidden somewhere in Kampung Baru, a Malayan ethnic enclave in the city center, awaits with its stories. Who knows, maybe I'll find him ...