I’ve been walking around the streets of Kuala Lumpur the entire day, losing my way in turns and confusing street signs despite clutching 2 maps of KL in my hand. Trickles of sweat pouring down across my face continuously because of the hot and humid temperature in the metro. According to my map, the next stop is Jamek Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in KL.
Based on earlier experiences, I decided to tour the city by foot to save money from greedy cab drivers. Seriously, I thought that the Philippines had bad ones, but apparently they are breeding all over Asia. And since I planned to go straight to Melaka after, I already brought my things with me including a tripod that I never really got to use. It’s not really my ideal way of touring the city but it’s my own fault anyway.
GETTING TO MASJID JAMEK
10-15 minutes away from the Central Market, the mosque is located at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak River, so as long as you walk beside the river, you’re sure to find Jamek Mosque. If you think it’s much easier to take a cab or a bus to get here, well, you are correct. During my third night in Malaysia, a KL-based friend asked me how I went around each location and was shocked when I told him my footrace to the finish line. “Buti hindi ka nanakawan!” he Vince as he told me that the area around the mosque is prone to mugging.
Actually, you can even reach this mosque by taking the LRT and stopping in the Masjid Jamek station, which is a just minute away. Should’ve figured that out earlier.
ACCESSIBLE BUT LIMITED TO
This moorish architecture is designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, the same architect responsible for the Sultan Abdul Samad Building located just across the river. At the center is a 21.3m high central dome, and two 26.8m high minarets on either side standing in perfect conjunction.
The term ‘Jamek’ translated actually means a congregation place. It’s one of those grounds that are strictly for the followers. Although entrance is free, and just about anybody could enter the gates to the mosque, tourists and non-worshippers are only permitted to roam around outside the structure. Not only that, there’s this stall beside the gate offering traditional garment rentals free of charge. Tourists are supposed to wear these clothes while going about the grounds.
A QUESTION OF RACE
The guy manning the rental stall asked me if I was a Moslem. I told him that I was from the Philippines as I wiped off the waterfall of sweat dripping from my forehead while I tried to put on the black robe. He told me that I had both Arabic and Malay features which is probably the reason why most locals thought I was one of them, talking to me in a language that I do not understand.
My old boss even asked me if I would be taking a leave during Ramadan. I sort of took it to offense.
Anyway, I didn’t spend as much time in Jamek Mosque since I was already in a rush to catch the 5:00 PM bus to Melaka. It was a quarter past 3:00 on my watch and I still have one last stop. But I couldn’t pass on the chance to have a photo of me wearing their traditional Moslem robe even if I looked totally ridiculous in one. I look like Andre Leon Talley and couldn’t rock this look. Hahaha.
Much love to Airphil Express (which now has Manila to Kuala Lumpur flights three times a week) for making this trip possible together with the Malaysian Tourism Board and Travel Guard Chartis for our travel insurance.