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Friday, January 4, 2013

KL Chinatown: Calligraphy and Afternoon Tea

Malaysia Day 2 (Continuation)

On my way back to the hostel, I received an SMS from Clement. A French guy I met on CouchSurfing (CS). We'll be in Malaysia pretty much on the same dates so we emailed each other before the trip and planned on catching up when we get there. I thought he had left KL, so I was surprised when he texted. He was inviting me for lunch but told him I'm already running late for a meet-up in Chinatown. He then decided to just tag along. Good thing he was just staying nearby Bukit Bintang, so he just picked me up from the hostel and off we went.

We took the monorail to Maharajalela, where Chinatown is just a short walking distance. But uh oh, we realized we rode the wrong train! We took the one going to Titiwangsa instead of the one headed to KL Sentral, shoot. Maybe because we were talking a lot we didn't notice. We just switched trains in Bukit Nanas station.

the mono

Maybe it wasn't our lucky day. When we arrived in Maharajalela, it rained so heavily and neither of us had an umbrella. We looked around and found out there's no way we can hail a cab in the area. Good grief, we were stranded. Then, Uncle who was manning a temple near the train station called our attention. He probably noticed that we were not happy being stuck there. He sold us pre-used umbrellas for RM 10 each. We took it because it didn't seem the rain's going to stop anytime soon.

My friend Moon wasn't there yet when we got to the Mandarin Pacific Hotel so we decided to grab a bite in a nearby restaurant. Boy, it took them so long to prepare the food  and that made us even hungrier every second. Moon called saying she's at the hotel already so I left Clement for a while. After all our reservations were done we all came back to the restaurant. She was with a guy friend Vincent, whom she met in CS too. After we made the proper introductions, we were so surprised when the 2 guys hugged each other. They knew each other too! Apparently, they were partying together the other night and he was the friend Clement was telling me about earlier.What a small world! Moon and I had no idea that the friends we brought along were friends too. It was like the universe brought us all together at the same time. Amazing! :)

We waited so long for our food. Vincent talked to them in their local dialect for our orders to be expedited. While waiting for our food, Clement was wondering if Coke tastes differently in Malaysia because it really didn't taste right. Vincent checked the can and it was expired! Holy crap! Fortunately, it didn't wreak havoc to his tummy. Seemed like it was Clement's unlucky day hehe. The restaurant redeemed itself by their food. It was undeniably delicious. No photos though, we were too starved to take one. It was a little overpriced by the way.

We then proceeded to a calligraphy shop. Moon is crazy about tea and calligraphy. It must be her Chinese heritage. We've (Vincent, Clement and I) never met a person as enthusiastic as she is when it comes to those two things. We actually call her cray-cray for that hehe.

Here are some snaps of the what we captured there:

lovely paintings

Those paintings were beautiful. There were a lot of stuff that fascinates us (especially Clement and I) because we have the slightest idea on them. Moon and Vincent are both of Chinese descent.

different types of brushes

Different strokes for different folks. You'll find all your calligraphy needs here. They have something for beginners to the experts.

guide books and inks

While Moon and Vincent were busy talking to the Uncles, we were busy taking photos hehe.

hey! it's similar to our "tulak" in Tagalog :)

Tagalog language has fragments of Sanskrit, Malay and Javanese. So, in Malaysia, you will find out a lot of similar words to ours.

big big brushes

I wonder if those huge brushes were being used for real. But I remember watching classic Chinese movies when I was younger and I think I saw them using these.

When Moon was done with her shopping and inquiry about Calligraphy classes, she took us to this very cozy place, the Purple Cane Tea House. It is quite secluded. It's in an upper floor of a commercial building. I think only locals and real tea-lovers knew the place.

intimate ambiance, ain't it?

Like other Asian places, you have to leave your footwear out on the door. We were wowed when we entered the tea house. The place is very nice! The colors are relaxing. The lighting dramatic. On air was a classical Chinese melody. It'll make you feel like you were taken back in time somewhere in ancient China. :)

cushy, very cushy :)

There were just a few people coming in from time to time. There were couples, buddies and a single person. We were the biggest and the loudest group there haha. The place is so swell. It is the best place to go to if you want to talk and discuss things. It has a very laid-back atmosphere.

oh that yummy peanuts!

We were first served with these peanuts. I'm not sure how it was cooked but it was so tender and flavorful. It was my first time to eat peanuts like that. It was like the appetizer before the tea. It was my first time in a Tea House too, so I'm not sure if it's really what they serve before the tea ceremony.

The Tea Ceremony

Moon initiated the ceremony. I watched her as she did her thing. I saw tea drinking in a different light. It was so artistic. The symbolism and the formality of it, everything.

Chinese Chess

Since we were hanging out with two half-Chinese peeps, we were convinced to try playing the Chinese Chess. It it pretty similar to our chess. But it doesn't matter, I suck at it haha! It was boys vs girls. The French guy has a Chinese girlfriend back in Paris, so they had the advantage (at least I think so haha). Of course, the boys' team won. :)

more tea, please! :)

So those are my pals (left to right) - Clement, Vincent and Moon. It was a super fun afternoon. We kept talking, drinking tea, playing chess and more talking. I learned a lot from them, especially Vincent. He is very passionate about Chinese culture. Moon was raised in Europe by the way.

busy Chinatown streets

We were forced to leave the tea house because we were there until the closing time haha. We were the last ones to leave. We had fun that much that we didn't notice the time. We went around Chinatown and checked out the shops for some souvenirs before calling it a day.

aka Chinatown

Vincent drove us home (except Moon who lives outside the city). He took Clement and I, to our hostels. There was a CS party in Skybar that night where the 2 boys will go again. Unfortunately, Moon and I were leaving early the following morning, so no partying for us. Clement was also heading to Perhentian Islands, so we'll see him again there after a few days.

On my way home, I remembered that I'll be seeing another CSer that night. Yaiiks, it was getting late. He didn't make it anymore to Chinatown so we just decided to meet in Bukit Bintang.

Zikri is a Malaysian whom I also met in a CS group. He was heading to the Philippines and was asking for help. Fortunately, I have a copy of Rough Guide and I was going to KL before his visit. We then met for dinner that night. He was happy to get the Rough Guide copy and well, some more of my travel guides for free hehe. He gave me a big box of chocolate chip cookies! I wasn't asking for anything in return but it was a nice gesture from him. Silly, I forgot to take a photo with him!

his Roti Canai

He then took me to Nagasari Curry House for dinner. It was located at the Golden Triangle area and just walking distance from Bukit Bintang. This restaurant is famous for both locals and travelers. According to him, CS KL sometimes do their meet ups here.

my Kuey Teow Soup

He wanted something light for dinner so he just ordered Roti with Curry. I, on the other hand wants something hot for my tummy. He suggested me to try the Kuey Teow. I enjoyed it. It was delish and hearty. We talked over dinner. We discussed his travel plans in the Philippines and gave him some suggestions. We had a good time.

I once again came home and slept late. I still had to pack for our one week journey up north. It was a happy day. I traipsed Batu Caves on my own, I met and spent time with great people, I discovered a new place, I learned more about Chinese culture (in Malaysia) and I helped a fellow-traveler who will visit my country. It was the best CS experience for me to date. It was perfect.

Yes, I traveled solo, but I've never been alone. :)

This is Part 3 of my Peninsular Malaysia travel series.

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