Monday, July 22, 2013

Malaysian Art and Birds....

First order of business… On day two we saw this street-sign:

What is it? Answer revealed below!

Day two was spent lolling in the hotel room for a bit… we had noodles and super-strong black coffee from the in-room coffee-maker and headed off to downtown. A bit pricey at 70 Ringgit each way for the two of us, but the fastest way to get into town. We landed at KL Sentral and one short hop on the Komuter Expres and we were at Kuala Lumpur Station, which has a really cool decayed Victorian vibe. I guess it used to be the main train station, but it has been surpassed by KL Sentral and KL City Center.

We walked over to the National Mosque, taking a bizarre route through a rundown car park with no cars in it and a tired-looking man slumped in chair watching for the onslaught of cars that was obviously never to come. We took this route as Yvonne completely refused to believe the signs that directed us to go to the front door of the Mosque. Instead, we approached to the side and Yvonne noticed that you had to take your shoes off well before you entered. For some reason this gave Y the heebie-jeebies and she started keening (Hi Katie!) in that high-pitched voice she has when she gets nervous about how we "shouldn’t go near the place." As she continued keening, butterflies dropped, stunned from the air, tropical plants wilted, and paint began flaking from the minarets. Fortunately, a security guard waved us towards the front, which was where tourists enter.

Unfortunately, we arrived at a time that the mosque was closed to tourists, so we wandered about the outside, snapped photos, and sweated like crazy.

Mosque Exterior (All we really got to see^^)

A few questions revealed that the National Islamic Art Museum was right around the corner.. so we headed off there and it was rather awesome.  For about 20 Ringgit for the two of us, it was one of the best deals we’ve had in Malaysia.  The Museum has three floors and it collects Islamic art from all over the world. This was super cool, because you got a chance to see how different countries had internalized Islam and turned it into art.  Persia (we think?) had all kinds of cool calligraphy, including some calligraphy written into leaves.


Also cool, but not pictured, what China did, which was to used it’s traditional brush-calligraphy and draw what, from far away, looks like traditional Chinese art, but upon closer inspection is made up of calligraphed passages from the Quran and Islamic scholars. Looked totally cool.

And two random snaps I took from behind protective glass:

A Pistol Grip, Actually


Afterwards, we headed to the Butterfly Museum, but missed it totally, and  ended up super-sweaty in front of the Bird Museum, the so-called “largest free-flight aviary” in the world. From the outside you couldn’t see any birds, and when we got to the front we saw the most dispirited looking topiary in, perhaps, the history of topiary.

That's Supposed to be a Bird!

Confidence not much built, we sat down for a bottle of water, and Yvonne wanted to go in so badly that she offered to pay (butterflies flew again, tropical plant sprang back to full height, and flaked paint returned to minarets!).  So, since she wanted in so badly, I got a couple of tickets, and in we went.
At first it was motley profusion of peacocks, doves, pheasants, storks, and a few other birds.  Section 1 was pretty much just that, wherever you walked, though they were remarkably unafraid of humans, so you could walk directly up to them.

Of course there was the splendor of the ostrich who posed:

Looks Edible!

Around section 2 things began to perk up, and as we walked through we saw a cool variety of birds in a cool variety of settings, including some in cages.  By the end of our walk, I was pretty sure it had been worth it, and if we had my godson and god-daughter with us, it would have been completely awesome.

There's Always One Idiot Trying to Break Back IN!

Final thrill, and a great example of vendors adapting to the modern world, for 10 Ringgit you could get two birds perched on you, and then a friend could take a picture of your bird covered self with your own camera. They were rolling people in every 45 seconds or so,  which would mean a rather nice hourly wage.^^

Yvonne, Uncertain or Happy?

Then it was back towards downtown, where we took a very short break for a drink behind the Petronas Towers, an awesome plaza with dancing fountains and a variety of cafes facing out to it.

Finally, dinner with Chocoballnoona and her best friend. As it is Ramadan, we set this up for 7pm, and waited a bit for it to be “safe” to eat. I passed along some books I had brought, and they were saints and paid for dinner. Yvonne and the two women chuckled regularly at jokes I didn’t get^^ and a great time was had by all.

Then, back about an hour to the hotel, and sweet, sweet bed.

Today, we are in transit to Penang.

Oh, yeah, this is what the sign meant:

Shelter From the Storm

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