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Attractions in Jenjarom, Selangor – Ban Siew Keng Temple

It has been months since I last traveled anywhere other than a mall for groceries (due to the COVID situation in Malaysia) – but since travel restrictions have recently been eased, the fam and I decided to go on a quick day trip to Jenjarom over the weekend.

Tucked between Banting and Klang, about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, Jenjarom is a mid-sized town with a population of about 30,000. The town grew from a Chinese new village – settlements that the British set up during the height of the communist insurgency in Malaya so they could keep an eye on the local Chinese population – which is why a majority of the current Jenjarom residents is Malaysian Chinese, of Hokkien descent. In the 1990s, when youth unemployment soared, the area became infamous for gangsterism and other social ills such as prostitution and gambling.

Thankfully, these days, the town is better known for its tourism, especially from the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen temple, a massive temple-cum-attraction by the Taiwan-based Fo Guang Shan monastic order. Chinese New Year is a good time to visit, as the temple holds a grand celebration every year, complete with stunning decorations. (I visited in 2017; read about it here.)

Although FGS gets more tourists, there’s actually another temple within town that is worth a visit. Enter Ban Siew Keng, which is located just a stone’s throw away from FGS.

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The story goes that there used to be four small Chinese temples in Jenjarom, each dedicated to a deity. It was costly and difficult to have four celebrations for each deity, so in the 1950s, the villagers pooled their money and resources to build a temple to house all the deities under one roof. Thus, Ban Siew Keng was born. The original building was a simple wooden structure, but it has since been renovated into the grand structure that we see today. The temple grounds have also expanded to include parking spaces, a food court, and a small but well kept park.

Video here if you’re lazy to scroll:

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Even the furnace for burning offerings is beautifully decorated!

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Stone steps leading up to the main shrine, complete with dragon carvings and the customary foo dogs guarding the entrance.
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Ban Siew Keng’s architecture is typical of many Chinese temples, in that it mixes elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confuciusnism, as well as those of Chinese culture. Think red lanterns, dragons coiled around stone pillars and scenes of Taoist gods like the 8 Immortals hand painted on the walls, fierce-looking ‘door gods’ (they’re deities that guard the temple against evil spirits).

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The design here actually reminds me of Thean Hou Gong temple in Kuala Lumpur, especially the combination of red pillars and green roof tiles with blue and gold dragon motifs. Like Thean Hou temple, Ban Siew Keng also has a ‘dome’ on the ceiling above the altar, with a dragon at its centre surrounded with beautiful carvings.

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I also like the open space they have in the middle of the temple, which resembles the courtyards you find in old Chinese mansions. This allows for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in, so the space feels bright and airy. Despite the sweltering heat outside, the temple is quite cool, thanks to the lofty ceiling and marble floors.

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Scenes of gods and deities in heaven are painted all around the interior of the temple.
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The main altar is a spectacular piece of work, intricately carved and painted over in gold and red.

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The caretaker said it was okay to take a closer look, so I went right up to the front of the altar. Although it was mentioned that the temple was built to house four deities, there are actually five at the altar, including a Buddha. I recognised one as Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy in Taoism and Buddhism. The caretaker mentioned the name of the principal deity, but I forgot coz he told it to me in Mandarin and y’all know my Mandarin sucks, lol. 😛 There are two sets of statues on display. I’m guessing the smaller ones are from the original temples, as they look a bit weathered.

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Aside from the four main deities + Buddha, there are other deities as well, housed next to the main altar.
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In the old days, fortune tellers would setup their shop either within or outside the temple. You would get a ‘cheem’, or fortune stick, by shaking it from a wooden container until one fell out, then take the stick to the fortune teller to have your fortune interpreted. These days, temples use these contraptions where all you have to do is bunch up your sticks and drop them into the hole at the centre – the one that sticks up is your fortune. You then look for the slot corresponding to the number on your stick, and voila! Fortune.

Unfortunately, the fortunes at this temple are written in Chinese, unlike the ones at Thean Hou temple where you also get an English translation. So once again, my banana-ness proved to be a disadvantage.

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You can get a wishing ribbon to toss over the branches of the tree outside. This is more a cultural rather than a religious thing; in the old days, people would write down their wishes on ribbons and if you manage to snag it over a tree, your wish would come true, that sort of thing.

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The park outside is small but good for a short stroll. You can take photos with the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Guess what my sign is?

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So if you’re coming to Jenjarom for a daytrip, do stop by Ban Siew Keng! FGS is a great place to visit and it’s much larger, but I think Ban Siew Keng has its own charm, and a very interesting history. It stands as a monument to the resilience of Jenjarom’s people, and how they’ve made a life for themselves from a small Chinese new village to the town it is today.

BAN SIEW KENG TEMPLE

Lot 5623, Jalan Sungai Buaya,Sungai Jarom, 42600 Jenjarom, Kuala Langat,  Selangor.

*No opening hours listed.

Getting there

Your best bet is by car, as there doesn’t seem to be a lot of public transport to Jenjarom. According to Moovit, the Wawasan Putera bus 730 stops at Jenjarom between Banting and Klang, and its 734 bus travels the route between Pasar Seni in Kuala Lumpur and Banting, with a stop in Jenjarom.

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What to Eat in Jenjarom – New Double Day Seafood Restaurant

Before heading out on our day trip to Jenjarom, we searched up stuff to eat. The town has numerous seafood and bak kut teh restaurants: but since neither piqued Moo’s fancy, we decided on a place called Kim Mua Lau, which serves three cup chicken.

Drove into town following the address provided by blogs; ended up going in circles around the village area. Also why you shouldn’t trust Waze in areas beyond the usual cities and towns lol. Phone numbers didn’t work too.

After a good 20 minutes of (unsuccessful) hunting, we finally decided to fk it and just stop by a random place, just down the road from the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zhen Temple. Called New Double Day Seafood Restaurant, it looked like your typical ‘jau lau’ style establishment: air conditioned, with big tables complete with a Lazy Susan for family gatherings. During our visit, there was a big fam get together that took up four of the resto’s 10 or so tables.

Stir fried sweet potato leaves. I felt that the dish was a little too wet, but Moo liked the garlic fragrance.

Their house special is the kau yuk, a traditional Hakka-Chinese pot roast pork dish. Most versions have slices of taro, but here they only served the pork belly slices in a thick dark sauce. The flavour was good, although I felt that the lean part of the belly was too dry and rough. Good thing the fat balanced it out so it wasn’t too bad. I’d give it a 7/10.

The lady boss also suggested we order some of their steamed fish, which came in fillets. Price was measured by 100g (RM7), so two slices came to about RM28. The fish was pretty fresh and tasty, especially when paired with the light and sweet soy sauce. RM28 was cheap imo, considering that most fillets that size would cost upwards of RM10+ per piece from the market.

The food was satisfactory and very affordable – our meal came up to RM59 only. The veggies were only RM8 which is a rare find coz most places in KL would charge Rm12 per dish.

An option to consider when in Jenjarom town!

NEW DOUBLE DAY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 

Jalan Jambu Mawar 3, Taman Yayasan, 42600 Jenjarom, Selangor, Malaysia

NOTE: *Address given online is Jalan Jambu Mawar 3, but if you key that in it will bring you to the housing estate. If you’re coming from the main road, just google Jalan Sungai Buaya instead and you should spot the shop on your right.

Landmarks: It is across the road from Sin Kim Leng restaurant and Heritaste, which is famous for peanut candy. Just down the road is the FGS Dong Zen temple.

 

Travel Blog: Attractions in Jenjarom, Selangor – Fo Guang Shan Dong Zhen Temple, Jenjarom

Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t been updating much – been trying to finish up work before I go off for the long weekend. 🙂

Speaking of weekends, what do you usually do? Most days I just want to lie in and sleep/read a book at a cafe, but the parents are always raring to go on day trips so occasionally,  I join them for sightseeing (and for blog material lol).

Last Sunday was one of those days. Our destination: Jenjarom, a small town located in the Kuala Langat district, on the fringes of Selangor. From where I live, it takes just 40 minutes by highway.

Sorry didn’t manage to take pic of the town gateway 😦 but here’s one from (Image credit): Buddha’s Light International Association @myblia.wordpress.com

Jenjarom started as a Chinese New Village (the British wanted to prevent the Malayan-Chinese populace from helping the communists, so they lumped everyone into these settlements and imposed curfews to monitor their movements)  in the 1950s,  so it’s not surprising that the town has a large Chinese-Buddhist population. In recent years, the place has become known for its tourism, mostly to the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zhen Buddhist Temple. Built in 1994 and spread over 16 acres of land, the Taiwan-style temple has several prayer halls and nicely landscaped gardens. It is especially popular during festival days, such as Wesak and Chinese New Year.

Ahem. So here’s a video that I put together for your viewing pleasure ! It was a good chance for me to test out my new phone (a Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro, also recorded the voiceover on it). 

I’m aware that it isn’t professional, but I tried my best (my best being four hours T-T) . Would be great if anyone has tips on what I could improve on + software to use for easy editing (currently using Adobe Premiere Pro CC). 

Entrance to the temple. There is a helpful map on the right, displaying the different sections within the temple grounds.

Well maintained front garden, featuring stone statues of Arahats and their respective descriptions.

On the right from the entrance is Lumbini Garden, a tranquil green space with more statues and decorations, flowers, small streams and ponds full of fish.

The centrepiece of the area are two Buddha statues – one of Buddha sitting cross legged on a lotus under a shady Bodhi tree, the other with his warms spread open in a welcoming gesture.

It was under a Bodhi tree that the Buddha achieved enlightenment. The tree has beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

  

Gazebos sat next to small ponds stocked full of fish, while weeping willows bowed their branches over the water and swayed gently in the wind. A picturesque mix of Buddhist Zen and Chinese architecture and landscaping.

A bit of history: Fo Guang Shan is a large Buddhist monastic order and new movement based in Taiwan; one of the country’s four major Buddhist institutions. Founded in 1967 by Hsing Yun, it promotes Humanistic Buddhism and a modern approach to religion. The branch in Jenjarom, for example, has many youth-centric activities such as Sunday dharma classes and charity events in order to attract more young devotees. In Taiwan, they have over 300 branches all over the country, as well as centres around the world.

The garden not only has religious fixtures but also cultural stuff like this kampung style hut.

Next to the main prayer hall is a three storey building which houses the Buddhist Cultural Centre and art gallery. During our visit, there was an art and photography exhibition.

We paid respects to 9 pieces of Buddha’s relics on the top floor (no photos allowed), before moving back down to the second floor, which had a huge classroom like setting. All the windows were open and it was bright and airy, with neatly arranged wooden tables and stools facing a Buddha statuette. Visitors can stop by for sutra writing, which helps to calm the mind whilst spreading the teachings of Buddha.

The pops in action

My piece of sutra, which essentially tells me to be humble. Sorry for the bad calligraphy, family of bananas.

Moo was on about it being so relevant to me because I have a problem with taking a step back/saying sorry when I think I am in the right. Heh. Gotta work on that I guess.

Spacious and opulent main prayer hall.

The sides of the hall were decorated with scenes of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death, expertly done by hammering and shaping sheets of metal. (Above) Buddha and his disciples in the forest, surrounded by various animals.

Buddha achieving enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.

A brief stop to the souvenir shop which sells prayer beads, sutras, dharma books, deity statues and other items.

GETTING TO FO GUANG SHAN TEMPLE JENJAROM

Address: PT 2297, Jalan Sungai Buaya, Kampung Jenjarom, 42600 Kuala Langat, Selangor, Malaysia

For those driving, it’s pretty easy to get there as the location is on Waze. Just head straight from the arch at the town entrance and you will see the temple on your right.

Opening hours: 10AM – 6PM

Phone: +60 3-3191 1533 

Admission: Free