Monday, February 7, 2011

Malaysia: KL - Days 2/ 3

Kuala Lumpur Days 2 / 3
Day 2 in KL we got off to a relatively late start considering we went out a little bit the night before. The plan was still the same, head to the Batu Caves.
The Batu Caves are a holy Hindu site that is a shrine to Lord Murugan, who, after I just read his wikipedia, learned that he is a Hindu god worshipped by Tamil's. Makes sense considering Malaysia feels like it might as well be southern India / Sri Lanka most of the time. According to people in Malaysia it is the most popular Hindu site outside of India and boasts the largest statue of Lord Murugan (42 meters or 140 feet) in the world. I'm trying to get the hang of this kilometer versus miles and celsius vs. fahrenheit to celsius thing so bear with me.

We got the free breakfast from the hostel, which consists of free roti, fruit, toast and coffee. For 14 USD a night that is a damn good breakfast. If you don't know what roti is, click on the link. It's amazing. It's like tortillas only softer and better. Plus you can add banana's or fruit or whatever to them and turn them into a desert, not sure how they haven't made it state side yet.

We hopped on the subway for 40 minutes or so and showed up right at the front door step of the caves. After walking through a wave of souvenir shops, Tamil's and food stands, we finally made it to the statue and the base of the steps. The place made me feel as if I was in India. I'm sure it's nothing like India, but being surrounded by thousands of Hindu's doing Hindi chants and such for a full day really made it feel like India, although I really have no idea what it really looks like. I can say it was one of the few times in Asia where I felt totally out of place, like I did not belong at all. Can't wait to one day venture to India.

The hike up the steps was brutal. It was I think, if I remember correctly 252 steps and it was something like 90 degrees fahrenheit with a whole bunch of humidity, incense, people, and monkeys. Serious sensory overload.

Little did I know that this would not be my first monkey experience. On the walk up, I witnessed a monkey grab a bag of banana's from a woman and tear out the banana's, starting a monkey war including growling and and a whole bunch of tree jumping. I also saw a monkey open up a water bottle, only to dump it out, no joke. Oh yeah, and another one punctured a whole in a juice box and sucked out the liquid. These monkey's were a real pain in the ass and seemed to follow us across to Penang.

The cave's themselves we're pretty cool. I watched the Anthony Bourdain episodes on all the countries I was going to before I went (I have a lot of time on my hands) so I had seen what they looked like before. They seemed to be a bit more crowded as it was close to Thaipusam (the biggest Hindi holiday) than it did during his show which was kind of cool, although it appeared to be far more touristy. I would actually be in Penang, Malaysia for Thaipusam, which was extremely cool, I'll write a post on that later.

The caves are made of limestone and are over 100 meters high. Inside there were men and women making sacrifices to Murugan as well as a couple of crazy Tamil dudes yelling and painting faces for some reason. I couldn't tell if he was trying to make the people laugh or cry. He had some guy holding his cigarette and tray of paint colors while he shouted at people who were all lined up to talk to him. I thought of asking him to paint my forehead, but thought twice after looking at this mean mug.

After spending an hour or so wandering and taking pictures, we made the journey back down the steps, saw some more monkey fights, and before we knew it we were back at the bottom. On our way back to the train we picked up some Kway Teow which is this incredible noodle dish served all across Malaysia along with some other small snacks I didn't know the name of. Overall, the caves were really cool, but wouldn't compare to what we would see in Penang for Thaipusam. Including a whole lot of this, something called Kavidi. Check out a quick preview below.

Also, here are a couple pic's we took inside the caves.

We hopped back on the subway to KL Sentral and then to Imbi (our Monorail stop) and back to the Classic Inn for a rest. I was really tired and decided to skip out on the trip to the KL Tower pictured here below.
I'm a little bummed I didn't go seeing as the group that went (Chris, Julie, Quinn, Eric, Justine and Olivia) met a bunch of Korean college students studying English in Malaysia for a little bit. Meeting Koreans abroad is always awesome because Koreans love Korea. If you think some American's love America, they don't at all compared to Koreans. To Koreans, Korea has the best everything, food, alcohol, entertainment industry, you name it, Koreans think they have it the best in the world. You tell a Korean you like to eat kimchi or drink soju and you will see the worlds most genuinely happy person alive. They're being so happy always makes you happy. Koreans are the most genuine, wholesome individuals I have ever encountered. Find the nicest person you know, like by far the nicest person you know, and I'd say that 90% of Koreans are equally as friendly. We would meet many more Korean tourists in our travels so missing out on this ended up not being to big of a deal. But, anyhow, heres a picture of them with Korean students, who now want to be friends here in Korea.

Zoe, Jo, Mo and I stayed at the hostel, chilled, had a couple of Chang's and waited for the other's to get back to go grab some good Indian grub since we had been eating mostly Chinese food since we had arrived. People got back a little later than expected and all the Indian places seemed to close early that day for some reason so we just ended up wandering to one of the Malay places nearby to grab some Kway Teow and roti's along with some other potentially Malay dishes. The food was pretty good. Went back to the hostel early as it was Sunday evening and I was planning on getting up at 6:00AM the following morning to watch the Patriots play the Jets. Great idea. I'm just not going to touch that subject. Still haven't fully dealt with it.

Anyways, the following day we did a little more wandering but mostly chilled at the hostel, as we had a bus to Penang mid-afternoon.

We got to the KL bus station, which really was more like a tent / shack set up with a bunch of wood planks covering the grass. Chris, Justine, and Eric had gone to buy the tickets earlier and told us to expect a serious mad house. They weren't kidding at all. I've peed in some pretty gross places across Asia, but this bus station I think takes the cake. Any how, we are sitting in the semi-air conditioned tent waiting for our 3:00PM bus or whatever to arrive and naturally its late. Out of all the people to buy tickets from, they got tickets from a couple of Malay dudes with bright, bright purple hair. What were they thinking?

Anyhow, we befriend this guy who lives in Penang, but has to go to KL once a month for the day for business and always takes this bus, and tells us he has never had a problem with them before, just our luck, right? Fortunately the bus was only a couple of hours of late and we got into Penang around 9PM, over all a pretty smooth sailing and turned out to be one of only a few minor hiccups of the trip. Here are some other pictures from KL I didn't include.

All pictures from: Quinn Hubertz, Chris Bailey, or Joanna Cohen.
Published by Sam Schofield

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