On weekends, I derive pleasure by introducing tourists to local restaurants in places off the beaten path.
Two weeks ago, I met Mario and Olivia of @travel_on_toast (in Youtube and Instagram). It was a fun driving them around KL and the suburbs.
We went to Rimbun Dahan to visit my friends art exhibition, showing them a reconstructed traditional Malay house there. We were super lucky to have also met Angela Hijjas, the owner of Rimbun Dahan and considered a prime mover in Malaysian art industry.
We discovered early that Mario and I are history buffs. This led us to some exciting chats on Sumerian/Indus/Aztec civilisations, and how the population of the Aztec was decimated by plagues introduced by explorers coming from the old world.
Knowing Mario is part-Lithuanian (Marius is a common Lithuanian name), I told him of the wonderful places in Vilnius I visited on business trips a few years ago. Of the castles, the churches, and warm shady parks during spring time.
His eyes sparkled 🤩
He later showed me his tattoos of old beliefs prior to Christianity in Lithuania, how paganism is still observed in some parts of the country.
I responded with examples of animism and remnants of Hinduism that permeates the Malaysian cultural fabric even after Islam landed on the shores in the region. Told him that in Kedah, archealogical evidence in Sungai Batu showed that the old state was smelting and exporting iron ores for over 2000 years.
We started to talk about superstitious beliefs.
Mario was intrigued to know that Malaysians are full-on, hardcore believer of the mystics.
One quick example is how number 4 and 14 are considered bad luck in fellow Chinese Malaysian culture, hence the designation of 3A and 13A instead of 4 and 14 in numbering floors.
Great company to have while sipping Patin tempoyak (silver catfish in fermented durian broth) watching planes landing and taking off.