Day 158 – Islamic Arts Museum

Another day in the workshop for Flo. Sonja and I decided to spend the day checking out the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur as we had done everything on the “to do” list yesterday.

Since we got back to Malaysia, I am constantly tired. Flo speculated that it might be the humidity which reached a new high for us or the simple fact that I don’t sleep so well in the heat. Whatever it is, I had another nap after breakfast so we only started towards the museum at 11.30 am.

A complete tent, put up inside out

A complete tent, put up inside out

The building is beautiful in itself. We ended up visiting the special exhibition about tentmakers in Cairo first, as it was on the ground floor, next to the reception. It was “just” one room but we spent a lot of time in it as the old fabric was amazing to look at. There was a time when most of the “stalls” were made out of richly appliqued fabric with a Koran saying woven in for good fortunes or blessings. There was even a whole tent that has been put up inside out so we could marvel at the fabric. Back in the day, the richness of the colours and texture was a surprise for the guests; many tourists even kept their travelling tents as a souvenir which is how they came to be known in England and France etc.

After this special exhibition, we went on to the next floor. It actually has none of the exhibition in it, instead, it has a big, open, architectural space with an inverted dome as a ceiling. Other features are a large water fountain, a restaurant and the museum’s shop. At this point not particularly interested in any of these (we actually missed the inverted dome…I blame the brightness once we came out of the elevator), so we moved further up to the second floor.

The inverted dome...a feature in the architecture

The inverted dome…a feature in the architecture

The second floor houses A LOT of the regular exhibition…we started with the Chinese section and then into the Malay section. The Chinese section was interesting as it showed the spread and influence of Islam in China through the trade routes. So there actually were copies of the Koran which were written with a brush and richly illuminated. The Malay section had EVERYTHING. At least some specimens of everything; clothes, coins, books, weapons, you name it. It was actually so much that Sonja and I decided to go and have lunch to refresh our minds from all the information intake we just went through.

Since we already were in the museum, we checked out the in-house restaurant. Only after we sat down, it became clear that you couldn’t just order lunch; there was a four course lunch packet on offer where you could choose your main whereas the starters and the desserts were buffet-style. Amazingly, all the starters were vegetarian. It must have been something like Lebanese cuisine as it had flat bread, many dips like hummus and an eggplant dip (SO YUMMY!), bean salad and a cucumber-yogurt-salad. I ate a whole plate full because it was so good and then had to skip the soup because I feared that I wouldn’t finish my main and the dessert. Eggplant in tomato-onion-sauce with melted cheese on top is divine. Now I have written so much about food that I will just mention the almond pudding for dessert. πŸ˜‰

The museum is too big to see it all in one go. So, after lunch, we planned what we still really wanted to see: The architectural part and the jewelry section.

An actual dome...very pretty

An actual dome…very pretty

The architectural section was very interesting. It is filled with models of different approaches to mosques…some of them I wouldn’t have recognized as such i.e. the Chinese ones to the newer mosques that had been built with a sustainability aspect in mind. Unfortunately, Sonja and I seemed to have gone through the room backwards as the last signs we read told us which parts are actually essential for a mosque.

The jewelry section was smaller but very nice to look at. Here, more than anywhere else in the museum really, we got a bit annoyed with the very traditional museum concept. The specimens were put into glass cases, all of them with a number and then you need to look up that number on the sign to get any kind of information about it. It is very tedious and tiring and thus not part of the “engaging” museum concept but here, the information you received was more than limited. Some didn’t even list materials. Also, more context about when you wear it and how heavy it is would have been nice.

Flo’s insert: I have to add a bit about my day at the workshop. The guys at Sunny Cycles were just plain amazing. After fixing an issue I caused yesterday (Neutral sensor was unplugged), I did an oil change and finished with the rest of the inspection as advised. The two things I needed help with were to replace our worn chain and replace the break fluid. Help was needed mostly because I had never used the tools before and did not feel like practicing on safety relevant systems. Hussein, one of the assistant mechanics, did both in between his other jobs and even found time to find a replacement for the exhaust shell I broke yesterday.

To top it all of, I was only charged for the price of the parts. In short, if you are based in KL or an overlander coming through – give them a visit. They are amazing!

We got back home at 4pm, thinking that Flo will either be home already or on his way home (he did say today would only take him a short time) but no, he arrived back at 6pm. Just in time to have a shower and go out for dinner with Sonja, Nick, Jon, Alistair, Janette and myself. πŸ™‚