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.

Childhood Holiday Memories

When I was little, my dad worked for the railways. Our holidays involved either going to Singapore or to the holiday house owned by the Malayan (now Malaysian) Railways, or KTM as its now called in the official language of Malay, which stands for ‘Keretapi’ (which means ‘train’) Tanah Melayu (‘Malay land’).

KTM Holiday house, Port Dickson, Malaysia

This was the gorgeous house. It’s in Port Dickson, which is just over 30 miles from the capital of Kuala Lumpur, where we lived. I don’t know if it’s still standing and, if it is, whether KTM still owns it.

The Port Dickson holiday tradition started in the 1950s, I think, before I came along. I remember the wonderful holidays we had there as children. It was so easy to escape into ‘fantasyland’. Up to two families would stay there at any one time, and we always went with friends. We never had to do anything ‘domestic’ as there was a caretaker and cook/housekeeper.

I wish I had photos of the inside. I remember it being very roomy and open… though the fact that I was little might have something to do with that memory! The upstairs lounge area was open to the elements, in that there were no windows, only roll-up ‘blinds’. It was lovely sitting there, reading or just looking out at nature with no buildings to interrupt the view. Though it would get a little scary during stormy weather.

The house was on a hill overlooking the sea. Just past the bottom left-hand corner of the photo was a path that led down to the beach, with steps cut into the hill. The best part – we didn’t have to share that section of the beach with anyone else as that, too, was the property of the railways.

These photos were taken in the 1980s, apologies for the low quality.

The view from the top of the path leading down to the beach

The view from the top of the path leading down to the beach

Partway down the path

Partway down the path

The end of the path, right by the sea

The end of the path, right by the sea

Despite going to the seaside for our holidays, I never learned to swim. The initial reason stemmed from something that had happened to my mum before I was born.

My dad was a very good swimmer, my mum not at all. She and the other ladies and children would paddle about in the water close to the beach. What they didn’t realise was there was an area close to where they’d paddle where the seabed fell away quite steeply.

My mum had gone close to it only to find there was nothing under her feet. She disappeared under the water. The other ladies created enough of a racket that my dad, who was swimming further out, realised pretty quickly what was happening and came racing back. He got to her in time and pulled her out of the water.

That experience scared my mum enough that, when my third sister and I came along, she never let us venture too far out into the water. And we always had to have an adult with us.

Once I reached adulthood, there was nothing stopping me having lessons. But I never got around to it. There’s still time; who knows? I might yet learn.

Andalusians in Spain

The reason I didn’t blog last week was because we were in Spain, enjoying my special birthday present from Neil – a horsey holiday!!

I’ve had my eye on this holiday for the longest time and, when Neil asked me what I wanted for my 50th, after much dithering, mentioned this and he agreed.  The company I used, Unicorn Trails, specialise in worldwide horse holidays and are brilliant – they arrange everything, including travel insurance (which includes ‘horse-riding’ cover) and flights, if required.  The lady I dealt with, Danni, was amazingly helpful and no question was deemed too trivial.  We left for our holiday on Monday, and returned Friday evening.

The owners of the holiday place, Los Olivillos, Donna and Tony, renovated the ‘finca’ (farmhouse) that came with the property so it could be used as holiday accommodation.  They have 13 horses, including a colt, and they’re all Andalusians.

Not only was this our first time in Spain (though I think Neil may have been, briefly, while in the Navy), it was also our first time using a budget airline … the infamous Ryanair.  OMG!! Talk about charging for every flipping thing!!!  The only good thing – they fly from Bournemouth Airport, which is about a 15-minute drive for us.

The flight was ok as flights go, and we arrived on time.  Instead of hiring a car, we opted to be met by Jeff, who helps run Los Olivillos, together with Donna and Tony.  He’s a lovely, white-haired gent who used to work with horses, mainly in the racing circuit, in the UK.  The journey was about 1.5 hours and the surrounding scenery was breathtaking … it’s all so vast compared to anything in the UK.

Los Olivillos is situated in the Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Mountains Nature Reserve, to the east of Malaga, and the last part of our journey up the mountains was extremely off-road – very bumpy and nerve-wracking!  Never been so glad to arrive at a destination.  Tumbled out of the car and saw the most glorious scene as the setting sun lit up the mountains.

Tony showed us around the finca ... 2 double bedrooms, a single room, a bathroom, kitchen and small lounge area.  A side door by the lounge opens up to amazing views of the mountains, and a path leads to the garden with swimming pool and orange trees.

Entrance to finca...

... opens straight onto double bedroom 

Curtained doorway to smaller double bedroom

Curtained doorway to single bedroom with single bed, which Gordon insisted on having!

Door to bathroom; bathroom ceiling (the other ceilings are similar)

Gorgeous picture in bathroom

Open the side door to this amazing view!

Path leading to garden... and back to side door

Garden with swimming pool

Orange trees in garden

The middle and bottom row are pictures of their horses

Because of our location, all meals are included in the price, and there was no stinting on anything.  Everything was superb.  They grow their own vegetables, Donna bakes bread, makes jam – fig, also passionfruit and banana jam, which was lip-smackingly yummy!  Apart from boiled eggs Tuesday & Friday, each meal was different.  We had our meals with them, in their kitchen, and were made to feel very much a part of their family.  Oh, their son, Ricky, was there too; he’d come out to Spain for a month or so, and was still there almost 6 months later!  Don’t blame him …

Next morning, Liam and I got ready for our first ride, with Donna leading us.  I had a handsome bay called Huerfano, which means ‘orphan’ as his mother had died when he was 5 days old.  They’d hand-reared him, and he loves people!  As usual, I had to fight my ‘mounting-up’ issues, but they were so patient with me … very reassuring, and didn’t make me feel at all silly.  Glad to report that I mounted up without looking a fool.  At 16.2hh, Huerfano’s the biggest horse I’ve been on.  Liam’s horse was a pretty grey mare, Alma; of course, he mounted up with no drama at all.

These horses require minimum contact, so of course there was Liam and me constantly adjusting our reins, asking Donna if we were holding them properly … This trail ride was different from the word go – the terrain was steep, rocky, sheer drops, streams … very exhilarating.  We made our way to a place called El Acebuchal, the lost village.  It was involved in the Spanish Civil War, and these mountains were one of the last places to hold out against Franco.  To stop the rebels using the village for supplies, the residents were made to leave, which they finally did in 1949, and the place fell to ruin.  15 years ago, in 1998, one of the original families decided to move back, and gradually the place was restored.

The bar

We stopped at the bar for drinks and cake.  The owner of the bar is the son of the couple who started the renovations in 1998.  It felt wonderful, tying up the horses at rings meant just for that purpose, and sitting under the canopy, shaded from the sun.  When it came time to leave, there was a low wall we could use as a mounting block, and I got on with no problems.  As Liam was mounting up, it occurred to me that I had yet to break out my camera; I’d been so taken with the scenery and the actual ride before that I hadn’t thought to take pictures!

View from the back of Huerfano

Liam on Alma

Can't really see it, but its a steep drop off the edge!

Donna in front of me

On the ride back, we passed a few groups of walkers; one guy even stopped to take pictures of Liam and me!  As Donna said, we’d become tourist attractions *lol* Everything was going swimmingly, and we were about 15 minutes from home; just past the stream, Donna suggested a short canter.  I decided to take leave of my senses, and agreed – don’t ask me why, my cantering is total pants, and I haven’t had a proper lesson at it in about a year!  I didn’t prepare, didn’t shorten the reins … off we went, Donna and Liam ahead of me, doing great, me doing not-so-great … and I fell off.

Landed sideways, head did not touch the ground, but my left butt cheek took the brunt of it – Ouch!  Donna was brilliant – she looked after me so well; Liam was a star, stayed strong, reassured me (he’s usually quite emotional).  Thing is, in the mountains, phone reception is quite sporadic, and Donna couldn’t get a phone signal.  When I finally managed to get to my feet, with Liam’s help – Donna wouldn’t let me rush it, but insisted I take my time – I came over all light-headed … not sure if I passed out, but next thing I knew, I was on my back with Donna telling me I had to get up.  She helped me over to a rock, and I sat with my head between my legs.  Anyway, she got her neighbour who was just at the top of the path to take me back in his car, while his brother led Alma home, and she led Huerfano back.  Her neighbour, Antonio, didn’t speak a word of English but his kindness and generosity spoke volumes to me.

I, of course, felt very silly, convinced I’d ruined the holiday and wasted Neil’s money – let’s just be dramatic about the whole thing!  But at dinner, Tony welcomed me to the ‘falling-off-the-horse’ club (this, to date, is my 3rd fall) and recounted a few instances when he’d come a cropper.

Next day, I felt stiff and still sore, but decided to get back on.  I was surprised that I didn’t feel worried about mounting up, just wanted to see if I could because I couldn’t lift my legs very high.  I had a different horse, Nina, a grey mare, about 15.2hh (Biscuit’s height) – as Tony said, not so far to fall!  And had Jeff, Ricky and Liam all helping me get on, which I managed to do – yaay!  Jeff was leading us, and off we went, Liam on Alma again.  Apart from tensing up each time Nina so much as attempted a trot, I felt ok.  We rode past where I’d fallen off, and a little way beyond.  I was fine on level ground and going uphill, but found downhill difficult and uncomfortable.  After about 30mins, we headed home.  With Liam standing ready to catch me if I stumbled, Ricky holding Nina, and Jeff standing by Nina, I managed to dismount quite smoothly – double-yaay!

I didn’t ride again after that, as I thought I’d better have my back checked out by my osteopath first, and didn’t want to aggravate anything and not be able to manage our flight home.  On Thursday, Jeff took Neil and the boys down to Competa – I was hoping I’d be ok for that, but didn’t go as I was feeling queasy and icky; I think it was because of the ibuprofen I’d been taking, and I don’t usually take much in the way of meds.  But Gordon took lots of pictures for me, and he and Liam bought me a beautiful turquoise necklace.

View of Competa from car park

Church of La Asuncion, built 1505

Interior of the church

On their return from Competa

View of Los Olivillos; on their way back from Competa

Apart from my airhead moment, we had a wonderful time, and I’m glad we went.  The weather was amazing … couldn’t believe we were baking in the sun, in November!  Neil enjoyed himself immensely, doing lots of walking; he even walked to El Acebuchal – almost a 3 hour round trip!!  Why?  Because there was wild boar on the menu!  Our only disappointment was we didn’t see an eagle … though Neil did, much to our disgust *lol*

Sunset - 5th Nov

Sunset - 7th Nov

I especially liked how Jeff took Liam under his ing, and showed him horse-related stuff.  Liam helped get the horses’ breakfast ready in the mornings, and went with Jeff to feed the 2-year-old colt, who didn’t eat with the others but stayed in his paddock as he rather fancied himself.  I think my favourite part was watching the horses come up for breakfast – Jeff and Liam would put the food out, then Jeff would go and let each group out of their respective paddocks, and they would come galloping/trotting up themselves, heading for their places … though some would try their luck and go to the place right by the gate before being reminded where they really should be.

Huerfano leading the breakfast charge

The 2 year old colt

We’re all agreed, we’re definitely going back; when we do, I plan on doing things properly and sensibly!

Huerfano and me