Today I made a few more friends and tasted a little more of Malaysia. Howard invited Lily, an experienced solo traveler from Holland, Joe and Rina, school friends from Taiwan, and I to try some food from the Malaysian street hawkers so we hopped in his car and took off to experience something new.
After a quick tour of the neighborhood, we arrived at a street with at least half a dozen hawker stalls lining the road. Howard zeroed in on one particular stall where a man was cooking things on a metal cart covered by an umbrella. We took a seat on plastic stools that surrounded a plastic and metal table and quickly ordered drinks (pineapple juice for me, mango for Lily and watermelon for Joe and Rina, if I remember correctly) to combat the Malaysian heat. Even after all the time I’ve been in southeast Asia, I still can’t get acclimated to the heat here!
Lily, Joe, Rina and I sampled a Malaysian spring roll, which contained a bunch of veggies and chicken. Howard ordered a noodle dish for himself and soup for the table to share. It contained eggs, veggies and chicken and the broth was really tasty. Of course, there was a splash of heat to it like most of the food over here, but that just added to the zing of the dish.
After dinner, Howard dropped us off and we explored Jonker Street and the surrounding lanes. On one of the streets, we visited a mosque and the girls had to don long robes and head scarves to enter. We all had to take off our shoes and leave them outside (although this wasn’t new to me since it began in Singapore).
There weren’t many people in the mosque at this hour, just a few men praying off to the side. I enjoyed the architecture and designs on the inside and outside of the building. They were intricate and very stylized. I felt a little awkward being at the mosque though so I didn’t take any photos inside. Lily said it would probably be alright if we just asked in advance, but I figured it wasn’t really worth it. I didn’t want to disturb anyone (although, if I’m quite honest, our presence was already a distraction. I’m not sure if it was because we were tourists, from other countries or that there were three women in our group.)
After leaving the mosque, we went next door and visited a Hindu temple. There was more activity here and we saw some other tourists taking photos so I felt comfortable taking a few of my own. Again, we took our shoes off at the door before we entered. The deities and altars here were plentiful and very colorful. Each one seemed to have his or her own place of worship and flowers hung everywhere. I wish I had paid more attention during my World Religions class in college so I could remember who the deities were, but it’s a little too late for that now.
As we left the Hindu temple, we saw a Chinese temple beside it. The doors were closed so we assumed they weren’t accepting visitors at this time. It’s interesting how three houses of worship can stand beside one another and coexist peacefully. You can say it’s a result of the clash of cultures that this country experienced in its formative years or due to necessity and land zoning issues, but perhaps it’s more significant than that? Maybe it’s a model of living toward which all humans should strive?