Selamat Pagi from Malaysia to all our Friends and Family,
We enjoyed our day tour of Kuala Lumpur! We were impressed by the exterior and grounds of the National Mosque (Masjid Negara), but unfortunately, we could not enter since we were not dressed appropriately. We have since been told that we missed an absolutely beautiful and impressive interior. Across the street we visited the Islamic Arts Museum. Unfortunately, we only had two hours to view this beautiful building its gardens and fountains, which incorporates the dome and other Islamic architecture in its design. The informative and educational exhibits include scale models of the world's most famous mosques, a full-scale interior reproduction of a Muslim room during the Ottoman Empire, religious calligraphy, textiles and clothing, armour, metalwork, pottery, china, carpets, furniture and many decorated copies of the Koran. We were sorry not to have more time to spend in this museum.
Our taxi driver negotiated the busy noon time traffic to drop us at the Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest buildings at 1492 feet of 88 storeys, which are fast becoming the national symbol of Malaysia. They are definitely spectacular! They were completed in 1998 at a cost of $US1.9 billion. They are based on the eight-sided star representing the arabesque patterns of Islamic art. Each tower has five tiers representing the five pillars of Islam, while each tower is crowned by a 208 foot mast representing the minarets of a mosque and the Star of Islam. We enjoyed a delicious, but hot and spicy, Malaysian lunch in the Asian Flavours Food Court. We spent the next few hours wandering about the four lower floors of the Towers, which is the Suria Shopping Mall. We purchased pewter at the Royal Selangor Factory Showroom and browsed through the huge bookstore, Kinokuniya, which might even be larger than Border's! We walked to the Malaysian Tourist Information Complex to see the Malaysian cultural traditional music dance performance, which we enjoyed immensely. We were completely enthralled by the beautiful dancers, both men and women, in authentic dress of brightly colored cloth and jewelry. They performed many lovely dances, displaying their rich cultural diversity and heritage, influenced by the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Islam, India, and Chinese. We arrived back home late, very tired but hopefully wiser, having been educated about Malaysia, its history, its culture and people, and about Muslims and their religion, Islam.
On October 8, we toured the historic city of Melaka, the capital of Melaka state. Melaka's importance in the world began in the 15th century as the greatest trading port in Southeast Asia because of its position on the Malacca Straits. Under the Melaka sultanates, Melaka was the trading center for trade with India, China and Siam (Thailand) and came into contact with Islam from traders from India. The sultanates were the beginning of today's Malaysia. The Portuguese took over the city in 1511, then the Dutch ruled for 150 years from 1641, in 1824 Melaka was permanently ceded to the British and, with Penang and Singapore, formed the Straits settlements. Unfortunately, Singapore continued to grow in commercial importance while Melaka became a quiet backwater with a brief revival in the early 20th century when rubber became a cash crop. Now Melaka enjoys its prestige as a premier tourist destination because of its rich historical sights.
We visited the Stadthuys, which is a massive red building in the Town Square next to the old clock tower, housing the town hall and governor's residence, built between 1641-1660 and thought to be the oldest Dutch building in the East. Christ Church is also red, constructed in 1753 from pink bricks brought from Zeeland in Holland and faced with local red laterite. This Dutch Reform Church was converted to an Anglican Church under the British rule and a weathercock and bell tower was added. We then walked to the main gate, which is all that remains of the Portuguese fortress, A'Famosa, built by Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1512. Across the street is the Muzium Budaya, a wooden replica of a Melaka sultan's palace. No nails were used to build this 15th century palace based on descriptions from the Malay Annals. The exhibits were very informative, concentrating on traditional Melakan culture, their textiles, games, weaponry, musical instruments, clothing and a diorama of the sultan's court. We also saw the Terengganu Stone with its early-14th century Arabic and Malay inscriptions, the first evidence of Islam on the peninsula. Unfortunately, they closed at noon for Friday prayers, so we had to leave without seeing all the exhibits.
We ate Malaysian again (but even hotter/spicier) in a air conditioned restaurant inside an antique store near the Town Square. We then crossed the bridge to Chinatown where we visited a few shops, purchasing several more pewter pieces. We walked back to the river to visit the Maritime Museum when it reopened after prayers at 2:45. The museum is a huge re-creation of a Portuguese ship, *Flora de la Mar,* which sank off Melaka while transporting Malaysian treasures back to Europe. The exhibits included detailed history of Melaka, ship models and old Portuguese charts, and many dioramas of life aboard ship. Again, all the exhibits were very educational and informative.
Unfortunately we needed to meet Thirupathy, our Hindu taxi driver, soon so did not ride around town, viewing many more historical sites on a trishaw, a bicycle rickshaw which are beautifully decorated with flowers, bells, whistles, lights! The drivers are also very colorful characters. One looked through piles and piles of postcards sent from happy customers from all over the world to find the one from Hawaii, after David told him we were from Hawaii. He finally found his Hawaii card, actually from Kauai. Another wonderful day in Malaysia! Malaysia is a very interesting country and we have learned much in the last two days. We have been very pleasantly surprised and would like to return to Malaysia to see more of this beautiful country and her wonderful people! Unfortunately, we have time constraints and need to sail north.
We are now day-hopping north to Langkawi and then to Thailand, approximate 550 miles from Singapore. We sadly left Admiral Marina on October 9, stopping only to anchor at Pulau Angsa, Pulau Pangkor and Pulau Penang as we travel up the Malacca Straits. We have been motoring most of the way with some help from the wind and the current. Thank heavens the diesel is cheaper here! We continue to be constantly vigilant for fishing boats/net, freighters and trash such as logs, plastic bags, etc. We have experienced some lightning and rain squalls, but thankfully, no high winds or "sumatras."
Latest Grand-baby update: Please log on to Paul's website at www.paulkekoa.com for the most recent pictures! There are lots since Julie has a new digital camera! He is growing fast! Eating solids (well...not really), has two teeth, sitting up, scooting around, and say "Mum"! He was 20 lbs 1.5 oz and 27 inches long at his six month healthy baby check-up on September 7, 2004!
We hope that you are all happy and healthy and enjoying autumn and no more hurricanes this year. Please keep in touch. Be well. Be safe. Take care. God Bless.
Please let us know if you no longer wish to receive our periodic updates, and we will remove your name from our mailing list. Also, please remember when you reply, do NOT send our letter back to us with your answer.
With Love and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA
October 12, 2004 Columbus Day
Pulau Penang, Malacca Straits, Malaysia
05 Deg 16 North 100 Deg 33 East