“How long have you been selling vegetables here in Kuala Lumpur…!?” I couldn’t believe my ears and I first thought I didn’t hear the lady correctly. The old Chinese woman with her bent back grimaces and repeats her answer back to me.
Incredible. Mrs. Soo has been selling vegetables at this market for almost 70 years. She is only one of the many interesting people we met during our Heritage Walk.
Roti canai for breakfast
The morning for our family starts with a delicious roti canai breakfast with teh tarik (Malaysian tea with milk) in a Nasi Kandar restaurant located just behind Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. After our breakfast, our tour guide Ms. Erina Loo from the Be Tourist Centre, takes us to the Sin Sze Si Ya temple, which is the oldest Taoist temple in the city with a history dating back to 1864. It was built by Kapitan Cina Yap Ah Loy, the headman of the Chinese community. The temple pays tribute to the deities Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya.
Erina turns out to be a walking encyclopedia, with tons of information about Kuala Lumpur and its rich history. Her stories are full of funny anecdotes about the Petaling Street neighborhood.
Sins and coconuts
“And after the ceremony, you can smash your coconut on the temple square, to break it. All your sins will go away, together with the coconut”.
Hm, that sounds interesting. We’ve moved on to the Sri Mahamariamman temple, five minutes away from the Chinese temple. Here we witness an amazing dance spectacle, with an abundance of colors and sounds from the drums and the flutes accompanying the so-called milk ceremony.
To ensure that all my sins would will magically disappear, I arm myself with three coconuts, instead of one and I elbowed myself to the front of the group; I don’t want to miss anything of the coconut smashing ritual.
“Yes, you can smash your coconuts now”.
I throw not just one, but all three coconut shells on the ground. Very satisfying! A couple of Indian ladies dressed in colourful saris stand by and wonder how many sins I smashed.
Heavenly food in Kuala Lumpur
Next, our guide Erina takes us to the Chinese market.
“You like it spicy?”
Yes… lots of chili for me please! We sit down at one of the many food stalls and Erina treats us to a sample lunch with five different dishes, as well as ais limau and ais cendol, a sweet delight which especially our kids like very much.
We continue the tour through Petaling Street and Erina ignores our very full bellies, when she buys some peanut butter pancakes for us at the store of her friend Mr. Yum Mie So. Not that we’re complaining, of course.
We don’t want the tour to end, but it is time to wrap things up. Before we say goodbye, Erina takes us to a street where a lot of independent shop keepers still run their businesses. We walk past a tea seller, a button shop, a do-it-yourself shop and a small crockery place.
“Most of these shops won’t be able to survive the next rental increase”. What a shame. So, if you still want to see these unique shops, book your spot at the Heritage Walk.
Not done yet with exploring KL? Walk over to Kwai Chai Hong! Our review here.
The Heritage Tour starts every day at 9am. It is suitable for families with older kids, above 10 years of age. Bring some good walking shoes, sun glasses or a hat and a good camera. All drinks and food are catered for during the walk. You can book the tour on Tripadvisor or through their website for RM237 per person. More info here.