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.