Posts Tagged With: Kuala Lumpur

Ganesha Street

Kuala Lumpur in my opinion, doesn’t have the most interesting sights. The Petronas Towers are ok for two giant cucumbers, but nothing mind blowing. There’s a few mosques, some colonial history and a king’s palace. The reason I like KL, is that it serves it’s purpose as a convenient transit city. It’s a lot cheaper than Singapore so you can stay here and arrange things for the next part of your trip without breaking the piggy bank. The food is great, especially if you’ve just stepped off a flight from somewhere like the Philippines. You can spend hours aimlessly strolling around the posh shopping malls looking at things that you can’t ever afford or just go in and out of the hundreds of 7elevens to have a few seconds of air-con and escape the sweltering heat.

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One interesting thing about Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia for that matter, is the high number of Malaysian Indians. The mostly Tamil people of Indian descent make up almost 8% of the population in Malaysia. The Indians and other south Asian people were brought here during the British times to work as plantation workers, traders, soldiers and of course, corner shop owners. Hence, the muddy estuary has a very multi cultural atmosphere and some areas, for example Dixon street, actually feel like you’re taking a walk down Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, although the smell of human excrement and sewage isn’t half as bad.

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Tamils are predominantly Hindu, and what do you get where there are Hindus? Not a bunch of milfs stumbling around in fancy dress with the bride-to-be wearing an L plate around her neck, that would be a hen-do, I’m talking about temples.

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Sri Ganesar temple

When I pass through Kuala Lumpur, I always stay in a place close to a Hindu Temple named Sri Ganesar Court Hill, dedicated to the elephant god, Ganesha.

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Ganesha is the protector, the god of wealth and prosperity, the deva of intellect and wisdom and the remover of obstacles. The previous high court was adjacent to this temple and back in the day, lawyers who had to represent clients would come to the temple and pray for a favourable outcome. The temple is said to be very powerful because it is built on a sloping moona muchandi (three adjoining corners). With that, this is the only temple in the world that performs conch shell prayers twice daily, where the chanting of Hindu mantras take place during the dressing and bathing of the idol Ganesha with spiritual water, this explained the clarion sound of trumpets and bells, along with some quite strange goings on, such as devotees setting fire to coconuts before smashing them on the road outside…

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Does it all sound a bit daft? Get this, former colonist Wagner Durai who owned the land which the temple now stands, once asked to have the original statue removed as the temple bells were doing his head in. The day after his grumpy complaint, he suffered a paralytic stroke. It was only when his gardener was instructed by Lord Ganesha in a dream to sprinkle holy ash on Wagner’s legs he fully recovered and regained the ability to walk. Wagner converted to a devout Hindu and remained one until the day he died.

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Hindus have 330 million gods, 330 million plus one if you include Sachin Tendulkar. The thought of these giant gods walking the earth may seem a little bit far-fetched or even pokemon-esque, but these paradoxes when examined closer can make more sense than what meets the eye. The court hill temple was facinating and got me wondering about Ganesha and why he has an elephant’s head. Hindu mythology can be very confusing indeed, so here is my simple, soap opera version about the birth of Ganesha.

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Parvati is Ganesha’s mam, Parvati wanted to have a kid with Shiva, but Shiva didn’t want a kid, so he went out on the lash with his mates. Parvati went and impregnated herself anyway with some turmeric and Vinayaka was born without the intervention of man. The child was told by his mother to watch the oven while she took a bath and not let anyone in, which he did. Shiva returned after one too many Stellas and was refused into his own house by the boy, so he must have thought ‘Who’s this little mug having it away with my missus?!’ A furious Shiva proceeded to chin Vinayaka and cut off his head. Parvati needless to say was raging and claimed she would end her own existence if her son was not brought back to life. So Shiva told one of his mates who owed him a favour, to go out and bring him the head of the first living being he saw. The first thing he saw was a Mackem, a wild and unwashed one, so instead he brought back the head of the second living being he saw which was an elephant. Shiva placed the new head on the severed body of Parvati’s son and ressurected him, thus becoming the father of Ganesha. A few months later Parvati had an affair with his best friend and Shiva was killed in a car crash after a dramatic show down…

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The temple has a telly, but only one channel, Ganesha TV

Believe it or not, the Sri Ganesha court hill temple provided a little bit of intrest to what would otherwise have been a boring visit to Kuala Lumpur. May I add, that it can’t be a coincidence that after visiting the temple I successfully jumped the LTR, was given too much change in 7eleven and found half a bar of dove soap in the hostel shower. The powers that be!

For More insight into Hindu mythology made slightly easier to understand check ‘Myth = Mithya’ by Dr Devdutt Pattanaik

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Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Muddy Estuary

We didn’t spend much time in Manila, but from the short time we did spend there I came to the conclusion that, this would be the hardest in place in the world to be a bus driver. 40 minutes to drive 4 kilometres through the afternoon traffic, I would have walked had it not been so hot. Whilst sitting in a taxi chewing my nails at the thought of missing our flight, I remembered one more thing I loved about the Philippines, Presto Creams Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. The delicious snack, perfect for dipping, gave me a heavenly sensation every time they touched my lips. And so we left the Philippines, but not before the government could fleece me one last time and charge a 500 peso departure tax. Just to give you an idea of how much that is, 500 pesos buys 83 packets of Presto Creams!

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Kuala Lumpur, which literally translates as ‘muddy estuary’ was founded at the confluence of the Gombak River as a tin mining settlement. The currency over here is the Malaysian Ringgit (I’m thinkin about my doorbell, when you gonna Ringgit, when you gonna Ringgit?). The first thing I noticed when riding the Light Transit Rail (LTR) is that the voice on the tannoy at times resembles a broad Geordie accent, ‘next station, plaza RakYAD!’ Maybe this is how Geoff from Byker Grove makes a living these days…

Merdeka (freedom) Square, isn’t actually a typical paved public square, but a former cricket pitch. The pitch was where Malaysia’s independence was proclaimed in 1957. The surrounding area has some fine colonial architecture, a nice contrast to the modern urban sprawl…

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Malaysia has a surprisingly large population of South Asian inhabitants, largely due to the fact they were shipped over to work here by the British during the colonial days. We happened to stumble across a busy marketplace in ‘Little India’ as the area is commonly known. A festival was taking place near the Sri Mahamariamman temple where the local Hindus were smashing hundreds of coconuts on the road. If a coconut does not break, it is said to be a bad oman, I would just say you’re not throwing it hard enough…

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Poor Coconuts

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Sri Mahamariamman

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Spot the Difference

One of the things I was looking forward to most in Malaysia, had to be indulging in some world famous food. On the walk through Little India we called into a banana leaf mess. It is exactly as the name describes, a mess served on a banana leaf, delicious.

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The Pertronas Towers are almost as iconic to Kuala Lumpur as the hanging monkey is to Hartlepool. Once the world’s tallest skyscrapers until 2004, the towers can be seen from almost anywhere in KL. I obviously wasn’t going to part with my well earned Ringgits just to climb a tower, but I discovered a great view point from the Skybar of a nearby five star hotel. Just make sure you’re clean shaven and walk with a purpose, they will never know you’re not a guest…

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A few more sights were taken in before the heat got the better of us. On a number of occasions during our stay in KL we ate at a popular restaurant chain ‘Steven’s corner’. When researching the restaurant I found out that the owner SC Sathisilan Aka Steven, was arrested after battering his neighbour for trying to move some chairs from out the front of his own restaurant. A Facebook group was started for people to ‘boycott the vile thug’s restaurant’, but in all fairness, if Charles Bronson owned a restaurant that made tandoori chicken as good as Steven, I’d still eat there.

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Masjid Negara

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Istana Negara

I’d never fancied coming to Peninsular Malaysia, nor had I planned to until the Philippines government insisted I needed an exit flight to enter their country. So far I can say I’m nothing but impressed with the amazing food and super friendly people, and I’ve yet to be ripped off!

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