The previous evening, we had made our way up Menara KL Tower and watched a beautiful fountain show by the Petronas Twin Towers. Today, we thought it would be best to go around on our own temple tour while continuing to graze our way through the spicy delicacies that Kuala Lumpur had to offer. But first, we wanted to see the grand and golden National Palace Museum.
Visiting the National Palace Museum
The first thing I want to mention about our trip here is this: If you need to get somewhere, feel free to call an UBER. They’re seriously so inexpensive. We found that out when we called one to get us to the National Palace Museum.
We wanted to go there for several reasons. It is the old home of the Malaysian royalty, it’s impossible to visit the new, glitzy one, and, as always, we wanted to learn more about the cultural heritage of this fine country. The old palace is situated in front of a large yard, and its driveway is lined with cypress trees. The campus itself is split into two domed buildings, one housing the living quarters and the other an exhibition concerning the current king. The history of all 13 kings of Malaysia is also told, all of whom have lived therein. There were a number of bedchambers and reception areas, for various guests, and we even saw photos of various guests of honor such as US presidents.
One thing you’ll notice right away is how everything is gold. Love it or hate it, it was unlike anything we’d seen.
Some might call it gaudy, but the sheer amount of gold displayed really screamed the importance of the man called “Yang di-Pertuan Agong.” We enjoyed our time (for only RM5!) though we of course wish we could have visited the new Istana Negara, which was only just completed in 2011.
Follow Us on Our Temple Tour of KL
Next on our list was to visit a temple. Unfortunately, though we had planned to go on an actual tour, we ended up missing it by a few minutes. But who needs a tour when you have your own resources and motivation? We made a temple tour for ourselves and were rewarded for it. We took a food break between the first and second on our temple tour, but I’ll get to that afterward.
The first we visited, as it was located a bit further from the city center, was Thean Hou. This Chinese temple is a sight to behold. Chinese lanterns stringed the air. Dragons and phoenixes adorned the temple’s sides. People came and went about their prayers and offerings, lighting incense, and visiting with statuesque deities. Underneath the temple is a restaurant and several souvenir stores, in case you want to take something to remember your travels. Out behind the temple, a hill with various statues grace your walk along with a terrific view of the city. Seeing the integration of Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist art in one place continued to remind me of how different Southeast Asia is from my home. If you go at some point, you must make sure to visit this temple.
Sri Maha Mariamman
Our second stop on our homemade temple tour was the Hindu temple Sri Maha Mariamman. Located around Chinatown, this temple was easy to get to and had a much different vibe. With construction beginning in 1873, this temple had many embellishments added over the years. Before entering, you must take off your shoes and perhaps a skirt, if you’re showing too much leg. Inside the main prayer hall, three stations to Lakshmi, Lord Muruga, and Ganesha are present, with four others around its sides. Incense floated through the room, and people sat nestled against the pillars as others pray to their gods and goddesses. Murals adorned the temple walls. If you have time, just sitting around in the ambiance and watching are a treat in and of themselves.
But we had to leave eventually. Our third and final stop on our little temple tour was Kuan Ti Temple. People revere Guan Di, the Taoist God of War and Literature, here. It isn’t as impressive as the previous two. However, look above and you will see spiral incense burning away, pink and lovely. Plus, two weapons, a famous sword and spear, reside here. Those who visit think that lifting the famous weapon will bestow them with luck or blessings.
When we went, it was very unlikely that we would be able to pick up the 59 kilogram copper weapon because it seemed to be held in place by a table. Even so, we enjoyed the story before we went on our way.
One of the Best Banana Leaf Restaurants in KL
We were starving after Thean Hou, so we headed back to our hostel for a quick refresh before our lunch at Kader, a well-known banana leaf restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. And what is a banana leaf restaurant, I hear you ask? A banana leaf restaurant serves rice and curry on, you guessed it, banana leaves. This is a tactile extravaganza. As you eat with your hands, you really “get in touch” with your food, so to speak. Some people even think the tactile sensation of eating with your hands improves the food’s taste. Even so, silverware was provided, probably due to our being foreign.
Either way, the meal was to die for and one of the best I had. Moreover, it’s easy to get to. So what are you waiting for? Our meal of chicken, spicy curry, and rice had us wanting more with every bite. It was exactly what we needed during our mini temple tour.
Perdana Botanical Garden and Chinatown Dinner
In many Asian cities, sometimes it feels like the buildings can blot out the sun due to their height. As such, to end the day we decided to stroll through the green lung of the city, Perdana Botanical Gardens. The garden divides into subsections for whatever your interest is. Do you like orchids? What about hibiscus? Do you want to see the boat house? Whatever your goal is, a walk about of this garden will quickly de-stress you as you return to nature.
The attention to detail here was stunning. Littered about are Grecian urns, slopes of flowering annuals, a pergola and rock garden, along with fountains and tearoom. Then on our walk back from the garden, we passed by the Masjid Negara again. Their prayers, echoing out of loudspeakers, followed us home.
That night, we ate dinner around Chinatown and President Corner again. After a long third day, we crashed at our hostel ready to see what the next day would bring. But one thing was for sure: We loved Kuala Lumpur.