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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Temples in a Cave of Monkeys

MALAYSIA | Friday, 3 October 2014 | Views [1095]

KL is a place to rest and feast, but not really to explore. A walk in KL is no walk in the park. It's very hot, although the rain provides a cooling effect making it perfect for a sing and a dance (but I have to make sure my camera stays dry). Agosh, a Hungarian CSer suggested going to Batu Caves. These past few days I've been hosted by Jonathan, a CSer originally from Manila. He works as a marketing director for AirAsia and I immediately gave him my complaints about them the other day. Jonathan said that a stroll in KL is better in the evening, so it's advisable to go after a cave visit. For lunch I got ramen, but I felt bad about it afterward because I ate so much ramen whilst in Japan. It's hard to fully embrace Malaysian food because nearly everything is very, very spicy! I took the bus to KL Sentral and then the train to Batu Caves. A 40-minute train ride costs only RM2 (about 60 cents). Entry into a smaller cave filled with tacky modern sculptures cost RM2 but the main caves are free! Greeted by a ginormous golden statue of Marugan, the largest such statue in the world, there are some 272 stairs to ascend to visit the cave.

It's an active place of worship for Hindus and one of the most important Hindu shrines outside of India. Rules stipulate no smoking or running, and women must have their legs covered. A young foreign couple would blatantly disregard the rules: the man was smoking directly in front of the "no smoking" sign (and lipped off to me when I said something to him about it) and his girlfriend took off the sarong she was given to wear after she walked up about 20 stairs. The security lady saw her take it off and they were both thrown out. People like that infuriate me! Seriously, such rules are in place for a reason! It is a privilege to be allowed into places of worship at all, and it's people like them who ruin it for everyone else. Last year in Turkey I saw someone taking photos inside the Sultanahmet Mosque directly in front of a "photography prohibited" sign! Eventually, visitors just won't be allowed in at all! If you're going to someone's place of worship, then people must follow rules just as if you're going to someone's home for dinner. If you see a local take off their shoes, then you take off your shoes. Rules as such are not there just for the hell of it, and people who disrespect them shouldn't visit these sites. With a cooler head I ascended the stairs whilst being greeted by a pack of monkeys. These creatures have the capability of opening the lids of plastic bottles, although I don't condone people handing bottles to them.

A Swiss girl told me a girl at her hostel was bit by a monkey the other day so I felt like I had to watch my back. Into the caves I was, and are enormous and spectacular, albeit slightly depressing. There are plastic bottles and rubbish everywhere and tacky tourist kitsch for sale. Some of the world's largest caves are said to be in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam there's a cave so large that the entire Manhattan skyline could fit in it. Some of the stalactites are spectacular, and I see up through the massive cave.

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned but an easy way to remember the difference between stalactite and stalagmite is "hang on tight" to stalactite (though I'm not hanging on real tight here).

Monkeys run amok so there's opportunities for some good photos.

One monkey tried to pillage food from someone's backpack. As I began descending the stairs the thunder roared loudly and it began to rain. I've been in KL for three days and it's rained hard at right around the same time each day. Everyone knows I'll take a warm rain any day as long as there's no lightning. Agosh told me that a walk through KL Sentral is better in the afternoon or early evening, although I had a very difficult time figuring out how to get to the Petronas Towers. As contrasting as a Kyoto Temple and the shinkansen are the Batu Caves and Petronas Towers: ancient and futuristic. At 1,483 feet, this is the tallest building I've ever laid my eyes on!

Unbelievably, the Burj Khalifa is nearly double the height of the Petronas Towers. Jonathan teased me tonight, telling me I should have gone at night when the towers glitter brightly. I would eventually take his advice and I'd be richly rewarded with a golden view. Another spectacular day in Malaysia: bouncing monkeys, glittering statues, religious temples, spectacular caves, roaring thunder, and heavenly skyscrapers, all within a train ride of less than a dollar. 

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