“To travel is to live”– Hans Christian Anderson
September included a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I had bidded for this as it was somewhere I really wanted to visit. When I say bidding, that means you get the opportunity to bid on destinations you would like to go to. You may not get everything you bid for but the majority of the time you will get a successful bid. As I commute from Liverpool to London, the long haul trips are priority bids for me as it means I am away for longer but as well as it also gives me a chance to see more of a destination. September ended up a really good month for me as I got 2 of my bids of LA and Kuala Lumpur but as well rostered with Joberg, San Diego which was somewhere I really had wanted to go to and Miami.
As KL is quite a long flight at just under 13 hours, this meant I got to stay there for 2 nights and would give me the chance to visit the Batu Caves, just north of Kuala Lumpur. As it is a site of Hindu worship and shrine, it is one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular tourist attractions attracting thousands of visitors especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam.
On arrival to KL, the weather was warm but raining. The hotel was very central and streets still bustling even though it was raining but I decided after a couple of drinks at a nearby bar, I got some food from the local supermarket and got a good nights sleep so I would be ready for the Batu Caves.
The following morning, the weather was a lot better and the rain had stopped. As I was visiting the Batu Caves on my own, I decided to get a taxi there but there is the KTM Komuter train or the monorail and bus service both from Kuala Lumpur Sentral station. I got to the Batu Caves around 09.30 and the first sight you are greeted with is the 140 ft(42.7 metres) gold statue of Lord Murugan. It is the tallest statue of a Hindu Deity in Malaysia and the third tallest in the world. The surrounding buildings and steps also just stood out immediately due to the vibrant colours of everything.
To get to the caves there is a climb of 272 steps that were built in 1920 for access to the caves. They were originally wooden but have since been replaced by concrete steps. It is quite a climb up there so I did take a few short breaks on the way up. As it is a place of worship, I thought I was appropriately dressed with shoulders and arms covered with dress to my knees. However you do need to be totally covered but at the bottom of the steps before heading up to the caves, for a small deposit you are given a sarong/shawl to ensure you are fully covered. Once I got to the top of the steps and entered the caves, there was a 100 metre high ceiling and it also housed several Hindu Shrines.
It was only when I was up in the caves that I realised it was also home to 100s of Macaque Monkeys so I was made up with this and just watched them running around, pinching food and moving swiftly up and down the limestone walls. When I got back down to the bottom of the steps, a man just practically pushed a bag of nuts for the monkeys into my hand. I realised then I was now going to have to pay for these which cost around $10 Malaysian dollars but ‘when in rome’(or KL). Although I adore monkeys, I was a bit hesitant at first to feed them as I wasn’t sure if they could get vicious so I was surprised when they were actually so gentle when taking the nuts from my hand. The older and more dominant macaques do try to push the little ones out of the way for the food so I just looked for the younger ones to make sure they got some.
The Batu Caves are definitely worth a visit and as it is a free attraction, it only cost me the price of the taxi and the taxi driver waited for me although If I go again, I will probably attempt the public transport in the city.