Prophets and peacocks

We have another one day stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Last time it was all about Mammon – towers and high end shopping – so this time we opt to feed our spirits and intellects (only for a morning, we’re not THAT ambitious).

We first head for Masjid Negara, Malaysia’s national mosque. A stunning. modern complex, it was built in 1965 to mark Malaysia’s independence (gained in 1957). It is to the previous national mosque (a confection of minarets and domes) what Liverpool Cathedral is to Salisbury Cathedral. Think South Bank Centre in white marble under a blazing sun and you’ve got a feel.

Tourists are required to dress appropriately. Allan was acceptable in his long trousers and t-shirt, but Chloe was asked to don a fetching lilac robe with hood. Vanity is not supposed to have any sway in such a place, but she did look like she had joined a Demis Roussos cult. There is a photo. It shall never been seen.

The mosque itself is a beautiful building, with a folded blue-green roof designed to resemble a partially folded parasol. The central prayer area is surrounded by large, open-sided spaces which, when full, allow 15,000 men to worship together. It is a very appropriate way to mark the foundation of a new Muslim country, and the welcome offered to tourists reflects Malaysia’s multi-faith ambition.

Then on to the Bird Park, which claims to be the largest aviary in the world. It sits in a large bowl and contains over 5,000 species of bird, mostly native to SE Asia.

We saw ridiculously brightly coloured pheasants, something that looked like a cross between a peacock and a dodo and spectacular birds of prey.

Yes, we would rather see them in the wild, but conditions here were among the best we’ve seen in this kind of establishment. Many of the birds live out in the large netted enclosure – not free but with more space than most captive animals.

And, finally…aaaah, ducklings!