Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2011(九皇大帝) at Ampang (Day 1)

Today, the 27th of September 2011 is the 1st day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. The weather was good with a clear morning sky and a rainbow over KL to boot. KL never looked so gay cheerful after the months of haze and erratic weather.
A rainbow over Kuala Lumpur skyline.

Smoke from the large dragon incense can be seen billowing from the temple. The air is filled with the smell of burning incense and even from my place, the smell of burnt incense permeated the air. There wasn't a large crowd as yet in the morning, but this should pick up in the evening.
Incense smoke from the temple billowing away with the wind.

By nightfall, the volume of traffic had picked up, and cars were queuing to enter the parking lots located near the temple grounds.
Cars queuing to get to the parking lots.
One of the parking lots being filled up. The lot is actually an open ground and basketball courts belonging to the organisation that manages the temple.

When I headed to the temple again around 9pm, the road leading to the temple was crawling with cars and people. The roadsides were converted into makeshift parking lots, with 'parking attendants' (short of calling them touts) beckoning drivers into their 'lots'. There were more stalls opened along Jalan Merdeka (which is the road leading to the temple) and I can see that there were three stalls selling stinky tofu today when there were only two yesterday. You can get clothes, flip-flops, soft toys and plush cushions from the stalls here.
The stream of cars and people making their way to the temple.
Stinky tofu stall. There was a queue to buy the tofu, so I skipped it this time around.
Skewer steamboat, aka Lok Lok or satay celup. There are actually quite a handful of stalls offering this.
Hot dog BIG hot dog on a stick, anyone?

Realising that there were many more stalls selling foodstuff and knick-knacks today, I decided that I will give a brief overview of the food and stuff that you can get here instead of focusing on the religious aspects of the celebration. As you approach the area around the temple, you can sense the carnival like air here. Traditional Chinese windmills and flour dough dolls, malt sugar candy and bubble teas completes the image of a temple fair (廟會). Most of the foodstuff sold by stall around the compound and within are vegetarian (with the exception of beer). There were also stalls selling pirated DVDs and CDs (hmmm, not vegetarian I guess). One can hear music blaring away and fortune tellers trying to sell their 'cures' for bad luck. The Fujian Chinese Opera show also drew a large crowd.
Cartoon character balloons and hand-held windmills were the hot selling items of the day.
Now that's an angry bird. Don't get upset, we are not eating any birdies today.
People were looking at the lady making flour dough dolls on a stick (yellow arrows). They will charge you RM5 for taking photos of their product or them making the dolls. I guess they do not need free publicity.
Deep fried jackfruit fritters (Cempedak goreng).
Amigos beer at RM 4 per can or RM 10 for 3 cans (not so cheap). This stalls also sell decorative feng shui items, which they do so via auctioning it to the public.
The Amoy Opera show. The stage is set amidst the stalls, so you have got to jostle with the people buying stuff to get through to the viewing area.
At this point, I made a trip back into the temple. One of the sedan chairs used by the deities.
A better view of the lantern on the pole.
The sedan chariot at its parking bay.
Look at the awesome joss paper gold ingots and pineapple offering. The number of devotees were so large that you have to queue to get into the main chamber of the temple.
Birds for liberation (pigeons and java sparrows); but the next stall sells Taiwan style deep fried chicken chop! Angry birds are coming!! Luckily it is mock chicken chop.
More tortoise buns.

As I decided to head back (batteries were running low), I took to trying some of the stuff sold here. Bought four sugar lollies from a stall. They had 16 different flavours to choose from. I took the blueberry, kiwi, apple and chocolate mint. If you buy ten sticks, they give you one free. 
Lollies - 16 different flavours to choose from, or try all of them. Guaranteed to make your kids hyperactive and attention deficient.
My purchase of blueberry, apple, kiwi and chocolate mint.

Then there was the Ban Chan Kueh (a kind of pancake with peanuts as filling). It was a vegetarian version, so not too bad, and it had a lot of peanuts for filling. 
The sign says Penang Ban Chan Kueh. So I went over and got two pieces (90cents a slice).
Here's how a slice looks like.
And the inside with lots of peanuts.

I also bought some Sichuan Cold Noodles from one of the stalls along Jalan Merdeka on my way back. I opted for the seaweed noodles, which was crystal clear and asked for the spicy numbing Sichuan sauce (麻辣). It was a nice cold noodles (cold because the noodle were ice cold and jelly like, but hot as hell in terms of spiciness). You can opt for sour and hot sauce if you do not like the Sichuan pepper spiciness. The noodles had blanched beansprouts, fresh coriander, crushed roasted peanuts and the sauce had fermented soya beans in it together with the spicy Sichuan pepper and chilli.
The cold seaweed (agar) noodles. Look at how clear and shiny the noodles are.
After adding the 'fire' to the noodles. The spicy Sichuan sauce was so good that after finishing the noodles, I went and blanched some rice vermicelli to go with the sauce. I would have preferred it a little hotter still.

Looks like I will take all nine days to try and sample all the delicious food at the temple fare. Next on the to try list - vegetarian popiah (spring roll).

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