An Asian Walkabout (Chapter 4)

Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog

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The communication tower known as Menara Kuala Lumpur is the fifth largest in the world. Races up the stairs to the top are organized yearly.

Hey gang,

 

Sitting in the Petronas Twin Tower’s food court, with my belly filled, I decided to enjoy a chapter from my treasured book.  The walk from the hostel to the towers was hot and humid, although milder than Singapore, and the air-conditioned interior felt like a touch of heaven.

 

It was mid-afternoon after I snuck in my second chapter and I elected to brave the elements.  I roamed the park around the city’s most prominent landmark and was rewarded for my courage.   Flowing fountains and lovely landscapes were in abundance, but the best spectacle was watching the children play in the water.  It’s a cultural constant, whether the water is pooled in the street after a raining or it’s shooting out of the ground from a fountain, children will find it and merriment will ensue.

The world’s tallest Lord Murugan (Kartikeya) statue, which sits outside of the entrance to the Batu Caves.
  Their exuberance is always contagious and I left revitalized.

 

I returned to the atmospheric oasis and explored the below street levels of the mall.  I found a fruit market, and in a moment of boldness, I bought some Malaysian fruit.  I had been warned about the pungent durian fruit, so I stayed clear of it, but the “sweet and juicy” sign of my newly purchased fruit bolstered my palate.

 

The fruit came in a bunch similar to grapes and were about double the size of regular grape.  I peeled away the outer skin, which was thin and sturdy, and took a tentative taste.  It was actually pretty good and I congratulated myself on a successfully completed baby step.  Wow, less than a week into the trip and I was already trying exotic new foods.

A monkey that makes it home in and around the Batu Caves.
  At this rate, I’d be eating food from street vendors in no time...  ;)

 

I didn’t want to wander off too far from where I could forage Jeff-friendly food, so I decided to catch a movie at the theatre within the mall and then grab dinner at the food court.  I saw Kung-fu Panda and thoroughly enjoyed it!  An interesting factoid about movies in KL is that there’s assigned seating as if you were going to a theatre to see a play.  There’s no price difference for the various seats – each is just under $3 (under $4 in the evening).

 

I finished the movie, grabbed some food, and took the metro back to my hostel.  At the hostel, I looked through guide books, brochures, and talked with other travelers for ideas of what I might do tomorrow.

The beginning steps of the trek up to the cave entrance.
  I went to bed with quite a few options for tomorrow’s activities, but none was a surety.

 

With my sleeping patterns still jumbled, I woke up early in the morning.  To make a long story shorter, I didn’t end up doing anything from the previous evening’s list.  At one point, while relaxing in the hostel reading, I actually thought, ‘Oh no, I can’t laze around for a whole day.  I’ve got pictures I need to take to show everyone!’  Hehe, it was a fleeting thought, and I promptly set about to continue my lackadaisical day.  I was certain you’d all forgive me.  :)

 

It was a nice, relaxing day.  Another movie (The Incredible Hulk – not as good as Kung-fu Panda), food court, powernap, walk around the neighborhood, and chats with fellow travelers.

A monkey on the steps up to the cave entrance.
  And the best/worst thing of the day was finishing my book.  It’s always a double-edged sword for me when I finish a good book.  I want to find out how the book ends, but then I’m bummed it’s over.

 

That evening, I was done with trying to let nature adjust my sleep cycle, so I resorted to chemicals.  A nursing student’s best friend, Benadryl, now became a traveler’s best friend.  Benadryl was introduced to me by my pharmacology teacher (thanks, Samantha!) and has sedative properties in a non-addictive form.  It also happens to be good for motion sickness.

 

After 100mg and 90 minutes, I not only slept like a baby, I didn’t wake up until mid-morning.  And when I did finally wake, I felt like a new man.

The entrance into the Batu Caves.
  I was renewed.

 

I opted for the Batu Caves, which are a bit outside of KL, as my excursion for the day.  When I arrived by bus, I was impressed with the world’s tallest “Murugan” statue at the stairway entrance up into the caves.  Another unexpectedly cool feature of the caves was the abundance of wild monkeys roaming around.  I really like monkeys (maybe being the year of the monkey has something to do with it).

 

There were some guided tours that went into the “Dark Caves”, which apparently went much deeper into the bowels of the Earth than did the superficial caves that I walked through.  Unfortunately, the tours didn’t seem to be running.  There was a message over a loud speaker stating the next tour would begin in 30 minutes, but the same message continually played over and over again.

One of the shrines within the Batu Caves.
  No problem, the caves (and shrines within them) that I did see were worth the trip.

 

A funny thing happened on the way out of the caves.  A sizeable monkey, with a bundle of bananas in mouth, was heading down the stairs with his prize.  More specifically, he was walking down the side of the stairway with the handrails, which put him just a little below my eye level.  My camera was in my bag, so instead of snapping some pictures, I just watched him cruising along and as he caught up with me our eyes locked.

 

The little guy took the fruit out of his mouth and held it in his hands as he continued to look at me.  He had such expressive eyes and they seemed to be reaching inside of me for something.  Then he did something totally unexpected.

An inner chamber in Batu Caves.

 

Jason, do you remember the silly game we used to play as kids where you would feign hitting someone and if they flinched, you were allowed to sock them in the arm?  It was a subtle upward movement of shoulders with elbows flaring outward slightly and the upper body moving toward the target in a quick motion -- your eyes always in full contact with theirs so you could be sure they saw the “attack” coming.

 

Well, let me tell you, this little monkey must have played the game when he was younger.  He dropped the bananas to the floor and made a lunge for my face – planning on gouging out my eyes, I was sure.  At least, for a split second, that was the illusion his mock attack portrayed.  Surprisingly, I didn’t flinch, but he did have my attention!  I broke eye contact and made a mental note to avoid such in the future.

A beautiful opening in one of the caves.
  With a fresh supply of adrenaline flowing through my veins, I finished my descent and left my little cousin to pick up his lunch and move on.

 

I made my way back to old faithful – the Petronas Twin Towers.  Her cool embrace welcomed me back once again.  I ate, watched a movie (Hellboy II – another one overshadowed by Kung-fu Panda), started a new book (Kite Runner), walked around the park, ate again, and went back to the hostel.

 

On advice from other travelers, I decided to make my next destination the Malaysian island of Langkawi, which sits off its northwestern coast.  I booked my flight through the incredibly inexpensive AirAsia airlines.  The one-way flight cost me a little over $30.

Monkeys. You can never have too many pictures of cute monkeys.
  I’m still not sure how they could even pay the gas bill for those prices.  And in contrast, my hostel (which ended up being a hotel) was my most expensive lodging to date.  It was, however, the cheapest one I found on the island.

 

I showered, packed my bag, and hit the sack.  I enjoyed a restful night with sweet dreams.

 

I hope y’all have something fun planned for the weekend.  If not, it’s never too late to throw something together!  :)  *hugs*

 

Follow your bliss,

Jeff

 

jckern says:
In the January-February timeframe, these caves are host to the incredible Thaipusam festival in which celebrants pierce their bodies in incredible, and visually painful, ways. Horrifying and fascinating.
Posted on: Jul 17, 2008
tvillingmarit says:
The monkeys at Batu Caves are so nice and daring. One of them stole a camera from a tourist when I visited the caves last time.
Hope you will enjoy beautiful Langkawi. Look forward reading more from you
Posted on: Jul 17, 2008
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The communication tower known as M…
The communication tower known as …
The world’s tallest Lord Murugan…
The world’s tallest Lord Muruga…
A monkey that makes it home in and…
A monkey that makes it home in an…
The beginning steps of the trek up…
The beginning steps of the trek u…
A monkey on the steps up to the ca…
A monkey on the steps up to the c…
The entrance into the Batu Caves.
The entrance into the Batu Caves.
One of the shrines within the Batu…
One of the shrines within the Bat…
An inner chamber in Batu Caves.
An inner chamber in Batu Caves.
A beautiful opening in one of the …
A beautiful opening in one of the…
Monkeys.  You can never have too m…
Monkeys. You can never have too …
Yes, a mere 272 step gets you to t…
Yes, a mere 272 step gets you to …