Traveling in Malaysia

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The people of Malaysia; the native Malay, Chinese and Indian are free of pretensions and are  
exceptionally kind. Their smiles are genuine and they are eager to be of assistance even in the  
large city of Kuala Lumpur.  Malaysia is relaxed and I don't think we've ever said it about anywhere  
else, it has an easy sense of fun, a great sense of “heart” seen most evidently in the young people.  

In many ways Malaysia and Singapore are truly bonded. In Singapore you see laughing Malay  
Muslim girls photographing themselves in front of Chinese Temples while playing tourist and in  
Malaysia you see Singapore Chinese families and teens touring through Malaka in such large  
numbers on weekends, that it is difficult to find space on the sidewalks.
You see a lot of students laughing coming or going to high school or university full of optimism and  
confidence. But even young people at work, seem to have a vision of entrepreneurship, of living in a  
time that is filled with potential.  The “Spirit” of Malaysia feels as though it is on the cusp of a brand  
new future and everyone seems to share in this exuberance, especially the young women. The  
number of bookstores and the number of languages available in bookstores is a positive indication  
of the populations' appreciation of learning, expanding and growing in all ways.

Malaysia is an absolute delight for intercultural and interfaith tourism. Vibrant colors abound in a  
world hungry for beauty and color. There has been a sincere effort to utilize urban planning and to  
preserve historical landmarks and it shows. Streets are clean, (a few exceptions in Georgetown)  
parks are true refuges and greenery is seen throughout the large city of Kuala Lumpur.

Malaka, Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown are all easy walking cities - with light and airy mosques,  
vibrantly red and gold (and green and yellow) Chinese Temples, bright multicolored Hindu Temples  
and gentle old Churches.  In Kuala Lumpur the government  has generously provided bright pink  
and white buses to transport people to a large number of desired tourist destinations free of charge.   
Aside from prompt and well organized buses, there is also a clean, efficient and fast metro.

Don't make the mistake of judging a person to be of a particular religion or tradition due to their  
appearance or culture. There are plenty of crossovers and to assume anything would be a mistake.  
For instance, in one Catholic convent we stopped by, all the nuns are Chinese. For nearly a week  
once or twice a day for some unknown reason, we and everyone else for blocks around were  
treated to the joyful sounds of a song from “Chitty, Chitt Bang, Bang” over loudspeakers we  
identified as belonging to a very large Wesleyan Church. There are quite a lot of Methodists.

Malaysia has oil, so hopefully additional restoration/ painting will go into Malaka's famous UNESCO  
World Heritage China Town. At the rate Chinese teenagers from Singapore eat ice cream, they  
would do well to add a few more ice cream parlors- that for certain would not go broke.  Also,  
Georgetown is in the throes of renovating vast sections of neighborhoods and it  will be a pleasure  
to have a few more cafes, as we are talking about very hot and humid (near the equator  
temperatures)  where a break now and then is truly necessary.

A practical note for travelers going to Malaysia and Singapore. These countries are hot and humid  
and rain is frequent. If you look on a world map you will see that they are not far from the Equator.   
Everyone wears flip flops during the rainy season and much of the rest of the year. If you don't you  
are going to have the inevitable job of trying to dry your shoes in a hotel room or guest house (good  
luck) or packing them wet.  Take flip flops, you'll be taking them off for many homes, temples and  
mosques anyway and if you are going “high-end” put your dress shoes on once inside a building.

Another practical note for travelers going to anywhere in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and  
Singapore.  In all religions in Asia, dressing modestly to enter any religious institution is necessary. It  
is not only a matter of religion but of culture. It is disrespectful to disregard the traditions of people  
whose country you are traveling in.  If you find it too much trouble to dress appropriately, it is better  
you stay at home.

While Westerners may have the mistaken notion that Hindus and Buddhists don't care how you  
dress when you enter their religious or spiritual places of worship they do. Hindus and Buddhists  
who have celibate monks and swamis are sometimes more offended by thoughtless visitors dressed  
inappropriately, than Muslims who will generally be prepared at the door to give you a head  
covering and an abeya. Men and women going to religious institutions should cover their shoulders,  
the top of their arms, their midriffs and legs. If you are going to sit on the floor cross-legged or pray,  
loose pants are appropriate, not exercise or bicycle shorts.
You pretty much do not need to worry about doing the right thing in a Mosque, because the women  
in the women'ssection will generally take delight in teaching you how to do wudu or how to pray and  
what direction to pray towards, etc. The same goes with the men.

However, in a Buddhist or Hindu Temple it is very important never to extend you legs while sitting  
towards the alter, the Buddha or Deity. Usually, men and women sit on either side of an aisle, not  

Also, Southeast Asian Theravada Buddhists are much stricter about their contact with women  than  
other Buddhists. As a woman, you can not hand items directly to a monk, even a young boy. The  
item should be set down and the monk then picks it up. Contrarily, young boys in the Theravada  
Monasteries, who have left their Mothers are often a little homesick and within the proper bounds  
love spending time with an adult female asking questions and trying to learn about the outside  

Churches, with Asian congregations will expect you to dress respectfully. If you do not, it is as if you  
are telling them you have no respect for them or their church.
You will see hoards of young Chinese teenage girls with very short cutoffs in Malaka walking down  
the street. However, we have never seen them dressed like that in any religious or spiritual  
institution, even in the Taoist or Traditional  Chinese Temples which are a lot more lax than all the  
others or even in Singapore which often dispenses with some traditions.

Embrace Foundation
Christ Church built by Dutch - 1753 , Melaka
Colorful & Joyful Sri Mahamariamman Temple (Hindu) 1873 - Nataraja (Dancing Shiva)
Entrance to the Sacred Bantu Caves of the Hindu Community - Although People of all Traditions Enjoy Visiting Them
Towards the Top of the Stairs leading to the Bantu Caves
Masjid Jamek Kuala Lumpur (1907) - (includes Arabic, Moorish & Mogul architectural  styles) amidst Kuala Lumpur Skyscrapers
Prasad (Food Offerings) at Ganesha Temple in Kuala Lumpur
Historic Central Market Plaza Area - Kuala Lumpur
Near Central Market Plaza - Cheerfully Painted Historic Buildings
Christmas in Malaysia is Vibrant & Joyful - Sign in a store window - A very visable community of Catholics and Methodists live in Kuala Lumpur
Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (aka Hokkien Tua Pek Kong Temple, after the Taoist god of prosperity) - Penang (1850 - 1867)
Tamil (South Indians from Tamil Nadu, India) Methodist Church 1908 - Melaka
Masjid Kampung Kling Mosque - Melaka
Traditional Chinese Temple - Melaka
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple - 1600's Traditional Chinese -UNESCO AWARD for Restoration - Malaka
View from the Buddhist Museum in Malaka - Temple & Mosque in VIew
Malaysian Teens of Indian Descent getting Beautiful for  Photos - Melaka Mall
Christmas Charity for Children in Malaka Mall
Thean Hou Temple (Hainanese) for  Goddess Tian Hou
Traditional Chinese Thean Hou Temple (Hainanese) for  Goddess Tian Hou (The Heavenly Mother)
Divine & Mythic Creations for Dravidan Hindu Festivals
Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Ashram - served as a Doctor in Malaysia,  as a Swami Advcated  Interfaith Programs
The Delicate, Lacy and Airy - Masjid Jamek Kuala Lumpur (1907) - (includes Arabic, Moorish & Mogul styles)
Masjid Kapitan Keling  (1801 with  Renovations) - Georgetown, Penang
Masjid Kapitan Keling - 1801 (20th Cen. rennovations) - Georgetown
Nagore Dargha Shariff - Sufi Shrine  - 1800