Throughout the Islamic Museum, I marveled at how vast the Muslim diaspora is. I had no clue that Islam had penetrated so much of China as well - having arrived there via Arab traders in the 7th century. Although the Muslims became increasingly sinicized through the centuries, the founder of the Ming dynasty, Emporer Zhu Yuanzhang, considered Muslims as some of his most trusted commanders and advisers.
Illuminated Book showing the K'aaba, revered by all Muslims, in Mecca.
I found another interesting book in the Museum shop - this one about sex in Muslim marriage. I was surprised to find that sexuality is quite embraced in the context of marriage, no holds barred apparently. One statement in particular arrested me; it pointed out the contrast between the Muslim woman who, at home and free of black cloth, could and should look nothing short of fabulous, and the average Westernized woman who dressed up for strangers, but like a gym rat at home. I know that beneath the layers of cloth, many Muslim women are as obsessed with fashion as all women are, and that they’re major consumers of high-end brands. And of course, how could they not be like children denied chocolate - feasting upon it when proffered? As well, quite a few women in black were more carefully and precisely made up than most Westerners.
And then there are the treatises that deal with the same issues bedeviling many world theocracies:
On a more sensual note: If you want the most extensive cross-section of Asian cuisine - I expect it’s in KL. Malay, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese - and often all in the same enormous food court/market. Confections you never conceived of. Not for the queasy, since hygienics are circa 1920, but some say that since this food is ultra-fresh (vendors don’t buy more than they can sell in a day) you might be less likely to get sick on street food than hotel food.
In KL’s Chinatown there is a famous street filled with Chinese ‘hawker stalls’ and open air restaurants, reputedly serving up tantalizing fare. At night it’s teeming with locals and tourists. I can’t attest - since I prioritized staying well during my 12 day trip and didn’t partake. I can say that all the Malay food I tasted was swell - redolent of a mix of spices and underscored with that ineffable flavor of fish sauce.