Tag Archives | Islam

How to Spend Two Days in Kuala Lumpur

Visiting Kuala Lumpur (KL) was an afterthought on a journey through Asia. We visited the city on a 48 hour lay-over in KL. What we discovered was this capital city is a traveler’s dream. It’s affordable, the food is  fantastic, and there’s plenty of eye-popping sightseeing.

butterfly

Butterfly Park in KL

Butterfly Kingdom

Getting there: Take a taxi! Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park is situated within the Lake Gardens area and its main entrance is along Jalan Cenderasari.

Website: http://www.klbutterflypark.com/

Perhaps our biggest surprise on our visit to KL was how much we enjoyed the butterfly exhibit. As mentioned above, it’s a little difficult to find so definitely take a taxi. Taxi options are very affordable in Malaysia. The butterfly garden claims to the largest butterfly collection in the world. That is a pretty bold claim, but it is definitely the largest we have ever seen! Upon entering you walk into a humidified Garden of Eden! The place is massive! It covers over 80,000 square feet. There are ponds, rivers, caves, and secluded walking paths throughout the plantation.

Butterflies! As you would expect there are literally hundreds of thousands of butterflies all around you. Every shape, color, and kind are floating on the gentle breeze. It is a photographer’s wonderland. Our only challenge was that our camera kept fogging up due to the humidity inside the gardens. Take a lens cloth in with you. Butterflies aren’t the only thing that you’re going to see. Each of the little rivers are stocked with Koi fish, turtles, and other aquatic life.  They’re even beautiful waterfalls that make forget that you’re in a controlled environment. The natural flowers also make for lovely pictures.

Singapore 2014 122

Petronas Twin Towers

Getting there: Cant miss them!

Website: http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/

One of the icons of Kuala Lumpur is, of course, the Petronas Twin Towers. You must take your traditional photo in front of the towers. We strongly recommend taking them at night when it is completely lit up in white light. There is a park a few blocks away from the Towers that is perfect for taking your Christmas card shot.  The view from the top of the Towers is not to be missed on a clear day. You will need to shell out a few dollars get to the top.

Fun Facts:

  • Both buildings are 88 stories tall. A fortuitous number in Malay culture.
  • The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004.
  • The two towers were built on a former horse-racing track.
  • Contractors built Tower Two straight. However, Tower One was leaning 2.54 cm off vertical. So, to correct the problem, the next 16 floors were slanted back 0.2 cm.
  • Scenes from the movie “Entrapment” with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones were filmed here in 1999. Do you remember that suit she wore? Wow!
Jojoba Spa KL

Jojoba Spa KL

Spa

Getting there: Jojoba Spa, 15th floor, East Wing Tower, No.1 Jalan Imbi, 55100, Kuala Lumpur

Website: http://www.jojoba.com.my/

If you follow the Fighting Couple, you know we never travel without hitting the spa. Our Kuala Lumpur visit was no different. By far our favorite was the JoJoba Spa. Yes, it is really that good. It is located in an upscale hole right in the center of the city. You must block out a couple of hours for your visit.

The spa menu reads like a food menu with names like “Lovely Chocolate, Jojoba Red Wine Special, and a Dragon Fruit paradise.” Are you hungry yet? We elected for the “Royal” couples massage. Which we highly recommend for every Fighting Couple!

Malay food

Malay food is amazing!

Food

A highlight of visiting Malaysia is of course the food. Malay cuisine is a fusion of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian. Needless to say, in a city the size of KL, you are bound to find the perfect meal for any taste. The first place to start your foodie quest is along the famous Bintang Street.

During our recent visit, we met up with our friend Danny Chen with http://www.eatsingtravel.net/. He literally wrote the book on eating Malay. His guide entitled: Train2Eat, highlights eateries that are near metro and train stations around the city.

Masjid Jamek mosque

Masjid Jamek mosque

Temples

Getting there: Masjid Jamek (Muslim): Nearby is the Masjid Jamek LRT station that is served by the Kelana Jaya Line, Sri Petaling Line, and Ampang Line. Taxi is recommended.

Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamek_Mosque

The Masjid Jamek mosque is the oldest Muslim temple in Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1907 and dedicated by the Sultan of Selangor in 1909, it was the official national mosque until the 1960s. The structure was designed by Arthur Benison Hubbock, a British architect employed by the city government.

This mosque is a good place to get a primer on the Islamic faith. In order to visit the mosque, you need to be dressed appropriately. There are long robes that you can borrow if needed. We took a short tour of the property. Candidly, there is not much to see on the inside, but it is interesting to learn about the history of the faith in Malaysia.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

Getting there: Sri Maha Mariamman Temple (Hindu), The temple is located within Chinatown, near Petaling Street. If you are coming by metro, just exit at the Pasar Seni LRT station.

Website: http://sreemahamariamman.org/home.html

What the Muslim temple lacks in pizzaz, the Sri Mahamariamman temple more than makes up for it. Located in the Chinatown area, this Hindu temple is loaded with color, activity and art. The temple was constructed in 1873 by K. Thamboosamy Pillai. It is the oldest hindu temple in Malaysia, although it went through a near complete renovation in the late 1960s.  The vibrant and active temple is filled with intricate detailed sculptures depicting historical and spiritual scenes.

Kuala Lumpur has earned a place in our hearts.  We found the vibrant city inviting, easy to navigate, and extremely friendly.  Have you been?  If so what are your fave activities?

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Open Love Letter to Istanbul

I Love Istanbul. Let me count the ways.

The People

Istanbul hagia SofiaOur love Fighting couple love letter to Istanbul must begin with the people. But before we start our overture, let’s say we accidentally fell in love. It was Luci’s year to pick our location for the annual big trip. We went back and forth on various spots around the world. Luci wanted a place with history, culture and food. I showed her a video of Turkey. In the next 24 hours, we booked a trip to Turkey. It happened so fast, she says I “Jedi-Mind Tricked Her.” She spent the next six months trying to get to Greece! But it turns out our “accident” in selecting Turkey was a dream come true. We fell in love.

Like most Norte Americanos, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of “Turkey” is the poor foul that gets placed in the center of the table in November. But Turkey is one of the most hospitable countries to visit.

We found Turks to be the epitome of kindness and generosity. On several occasions, Turks went the extra mile to show off their country and culture. As an example, once my subway card won’t work, and a man came up and swiped his. Whether we were buying a rug or a kabob, we were greeted with a smile and a “Welcome, my friend.”

The Shopping

Istanbul TurkeyShopping is one of our favorite pastimes. Shopping in Istanbul is a contact sport! If you can buy it, you can find it in Istanbul. Of course, you cannot visit Istanbul without a trip to the famous Grand Bazaar. It literally takes days to explore it from top to bottom. There is so much to take in, so many little dark alleyways leading to hidden treasures.

A friend recently asked if an hour would be sufficient, we laughed. An hour is sufficient to have lunch before even going in. The main attractions at the Bazaar are rugs. Prices range from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands. Part of the game is agreeing on the price. Turkey also sports some beautiful hand painted pottery and delicately designed ceramics.

 

Istanbul, Turkey

The Spice Market

 

The Spirit

Call to prayerOur exposure to Islam has been very limited. In preparation for our visit, we invested some time to learn more about the world’s second largest religion with 1.5 billion followers or over 22% of the earth population. A few of the keys to understand about Islam: Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims and Islam are not different (common misunderstanding).

Muslims take their teachings from the Qur’an. They believe that the religion was revealed universally through prophets including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the last prophet Muhammad.

With a basic primer in Islam, we took in many of the famous holy places in Istanbul. Many of the historic mosques are now open to the general public to enter and explore. Again, we found the people of Istanbul more than willing to help us interpret what we were seeing. The artwork, carpets, stonework and the parishioners make visiting these places something special. Hearing the call to prayer at diverse times of the day added to the mystic of the city. We found the “quality” of the prayer caller to be dependent on the size of the city. Istanbul hosted the most beautiful prayer callers.

 

islamic call to prayer

Regardless of your religious bent, take the time to understand what you are seeing, what it means to the people and why. Most of all please be respectful of the buildings. Most mosques require conservative clothing, women’s heads to be covered and shoes removed.

The Water

IstanbulOne of the defining features of Istanbul is the water. It is magical. The city itself is dived in half by the Bosporus River. It is not like the wimpy canals of Venice. The mighty Bosporus is a powerful, choppy and colorful symbol of the city. The bridges that link the city and two continents are works of art in both day and night time. Also, check out the Basilica cistern with discarded columns underground that held the city’s drinking water. It’s another monument’s to the city’s dramatic water.

Istanbul….(or is it Constantinople?), we love you. We love your intense waterscape, spirited markets, your warm people, and your heart. We can’t wait to go back!

If you are looking for help booking your holidays to Turkey, look no further!

 

 

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The Souvenir Dilemma

Dong Xi’s, Choch-Keys, junk, Dust collectors, trophies…whatever you call them… they are the items that you bring home as little mementos of your travels. The tradition is as old as time: Romans picked up Egyptian Obelisks…Greeks a golden fleece…hundreds of US midwesterns….I heart (insert town). Souvenierring is a time honored tradition. One of my favorites is exhibited above. My prized Whirling Dervish! My wife keeps hiding it as he continues to show up on various “highly visible”-her words not mine– places. I cherish my dervish. It really spins! I remember the tiny shop in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul where I discover this treasure. Tucked way back in vast dark passageways, was this little family selling metal wares. I tried a little Turkish, they a lot better English, and the result was an emigrating Dervish (and a lighter wallet).

Why do we do it? Why must we bring a piece of our travels home? Do we worry that we will forget the sights sounds and smells of _________? I really think so. I think that in our soul, we hope that one day when time creates a great chasm between the now and then, we will find the Dervish and it will bring a smile and a rush of memories to mind.

Sometimes these items represent a victorious negotiation. Perhaps a memorable shopkeeper or locale? Not sure some items will qualify…my I heart NY t-shirt never really spans the distance like my Dervish.

What is your favorite item? What reminds you of your adventure?

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