The Oldest Places of Worship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I thought it would be fun to share photos of some of the more popular sights in my Malaysian birth-town, Kuala Lumpur or as it’s more usually known, KL.

View of KL (own photo, taken 2013)

View of KL (own photo, taken 2013)

Instead of overloading one post, I’ll split them over two posts, starting with places of worship.

Just so you know, these particular photos are well over 10 years old.

Built in 1907, this is the oldest mosque in the city. Its name, ‘Masjid Jamek’ is Arabic; ‘masjid’ means mosque, and ‘jamek’ means a place where people congregate to worship. It’s situated where the two main rivers of the city, Sungei (river) Klang and Sungei Gombak, meet.

‘Masjid Jamek’ in KL (own photo)

‘Masjid Jamek’ in KL (own photo)

Masjid Jamek -    Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams    (Wikipedia)

Masjid Jamek - Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams (Wikipedia)

The settlers who first came to Malaya (as it was known before it gained independence in 1963) came either to mine for tin or to work the rubber plantations. In KL, it was mainly tin mining, and early settlers built their shacks here. In the 1850s, miners would unload their equipment and trek into the jungle to dig for tin.

The oldest Hindu temple in KL is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, built in 1873 in the South Indian style, and is located, interestingly enough, on the edge of Chinatown.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple (own photo)

Sri Mahamariamman Temple (own photo)

The 5-tier pyramid-shaped gate tower, called ‘gopuram’ in Tamil, which means ‘tower’, is decorated with depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses, which were carved by artisans from India. What I particularly like are the shops that flank the temple’s entrance, giving the impression that it’s very much a part of daily life, accessible to the ordinary people.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Sri Mahamariamman Temple

An interesting little aside – generally speaking, those who came from India came to work the rubber plantations, while the Chinese came for the tin mining.

Then we have the oldest Taoist (Chinese) temple in KL, the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple.

Sin Sze Si Ya Temple (own photo)

Sin Sze Si Ya Temple (own photo)

It was founded in 1864 by Yap Ah Loy, who is regarded as the founding father of KL. During the mid-19th century, he developed the town as a commercial and mining centre. There’s a street named after him in the heart of Chinatown, Jalan (road) Yap Ah Loy. The way the road network is laid out, it’s near-impossible to just pull over and snap a couple of pictures; I took this as we whizzed by!

Next week, I’ll share photos of some other well-known sights in KL.

Manga At The British Museum

The past year, I’ve missed out on a couple of exhibitions I really, really wanted to see. But I was determined we would not miss this one, given the boys’ love of Japanese culture.

The Citi exhibition - Manga

The description of the exhibition, in the British Museum’s own words:
Enter a graphic world where art and storytelling collide in the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan. Now a multimedia global phenomenon, manga developed after the Second World War, but its artistic roots can be traced back to the 12th century. A fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture, manga tells stories with themes from gender to adventure, in real or imagined worlds. Immersive and playful, the exhibition explores manga’s vast appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.

We went last Saturday and, for the first time in all the times we’ve visited the museum, the queue just to get through the gate was massive! It snaked up the road, past the museum, and back down again to the gate. I was a little miffed that there wasn’t a separate queue for members, but hey ho, we still got in and there is a separate bag check for members.

In the museum itself, it was positively heaving. I have never seen so many people in the building.

We headed straight for the exhibition – a moment’s quiet as there was hardly anyone in the entrance area. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that photography is allowed; usually it isn’t for major exhibitions.

The first thing that people see is Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I had no idea, but the story is a massive influence on manga with various interpretations.

‘Alice’ at the entrance to the exhibition
An alternate version of the White Rabbit

Getting through the exhibition did prove a little frustrating at times as there’s always a section of people who seem to give no thought to others who are there to enjoy the same thing.

We took our time – there’s so much to see – and I, especially, discovered new manga I’m looking forward to reading.

I’ll let the photos we took do the ‘talking’ now…

Line drawings of ‘Alice’

Line drawings of ‘Alice’

The tools of manga artists

The tools of manga artists

More line drawings of ‘Alice’

More line drawings of ‘Alice’

Drawing implements

Drawing implements

Illustration of travelling warrior
Dragon Ball Z (I think)
Astro Boy! I’m pretty sure this is the first anime I ever watched, back in the day

Astro Boy! I’m pretty sure this is the first anime I ever watched, back in the day

Astro Boy comic cover
Miketsu, character from ‘Kaijinki’
Astro Boy Metropolis
Explanation for ‘Kaijinki’
Print and bookshop photograph - explanation below
This is the explanation for the photograph above

This is the explanation for the photograph above

From the manga ‘Vagabond’ by Inoue Takehiko

From the manga ‘Vagabond’ by Inoue Takehiko

On either side of this illuminated image of a manga bookstore, there were seating and shelves filled with manga, which we were allowed to browse through and even read, cover to cover.

Illuminated display photograph of a manga bookstore
Head of a titan from ‘Attack on Titan’

Head of a titan from ‘Attack on Titan’

Art from ‘Attack on Titan’

Art from ‘Attack on Titan’

From ‘Saint Young Men’, one I’m looking forward to getting into. Explanation below…

From ‘Saint Young Men’, one I’m looking forward to getting into. Explanation below…

Explanation for ‘Saint Young Men’
‘One Hundred Poems’ playing cards explanation
‘One Hundred Poems’ playing cards

‘One Hundred Poems’ playing cards

Poster illustration
From ‘Toward the Terra’, explanation below…

From ‘Toward the Terra’, explanation below…

Explanation for sci-fi manga series, ‘Toward the Terra’
From ‘Golden Kamuy’

From ‘Golden Kamuy’

‘Golden Kamuy’

‘Golden Kamuy’

Ceiling hanging display

Whenever I visit an exhibition, I always get the accompanying book. This one is true value for money. It’s about 350 pages and costs just under £30 (10% off for members).

Accompanying book for the exhibition
Satisfyingly thick…

Satisfyingly thick…

Pages from the book

Divided into 6 sections, it’s chock-full of interviews, photos, images from so many different manga.

Chapter 1 from the exhibition book
Chapter 2 from the exhibition book
Chapter 3 from the exhibition book
Chapter 4 from the exhibition book
Chapter 5 from the exhibition book
Chapter 6 from the exhibition book

Best of all (in my opinion), there are about 15 manga extracts peppered throughout – 8 or more pages of different manga in original Japanese script, with English translations on the side.

Manga excerpt, ‘Golden Kamuy’

Manga excerpt, ‘Golden Kamuy’

English translation with numbered panels

English translation with numbered panels

For those who are interested, the manga excerpts are:

Golden Kamuy’ by Noda Satoru
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Ótomo Katsuhiro
Giga Town: A Catalogue of Manga Symbols’ by Kóno Fumiyo
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey’ by Higashimura Akiko
Edo As It Was’ by Akatsuka Fujio
The End of Unagi-Inu’ by Akatsuka Fujio
The Willow Tree’ by Hagio Moto
Stay Fine’ by Chiba Tetsuya
Slam Dunk’ by Inoue Takehiko
Real’ by Inoue Takehiko
Blue Giant Supreme’ by Ishizuka Shin’ichi
Saint Young Men’ by Nakamura Hikaru
Olympia Kyklos’ by Yamazaki Mari
Red Flower’ by Morohoshi Daijiró
Ocean Adventurer Kaitei’ by Hoshino Yukinobu

The exhibition is on until 26th August. If you can’t make it, I’d recommend getting the book from the museum’s online store. If you love manga, you will not regret it. For, as the book states, there really is “a manga for everyone”.