My time in Kuala Lumpur was quick. We had I brief two nights and only one full day to explore the city, before setting off to Bali. As a result I did not get to see very much.
The nighttime food market –“Pasar Malam Taman Connaught”-was fabulous. It is the largest night market in Malaysia with stall after stall (over 700) of delicious food. Only a few of the vendors spoke English, which made exploring all the more merry! Lots of goodies were sampled from curry fish balls, stinky tofu, coconut ice cream, and sour sop tea. The cab situation was a bit of a nightmare and the traffic in KL is brutal. It took us two hours to travel six miles. Additionally, outside of our hotel when the porter hailed a cab he informed us it was double the cost then if we walked to the cab line five feet further. After that we avoided cabs and stuck to the metro.
The Batu caves are estimated to be around 400 million years old. Formed out of limestone, the caves were originally used by the indigenous people for shelter. In the 190os the Chinese settlers of the region began excavating Guano (bat dung) from them- In the late 1800s an Indian trader began to use the caves as a place of worship and overtime they have been transformed in to a series of Hindu shrines dedicated to Lord Murugan-the Hindu God of War. Currently the three caves are open to the public, but one of the caves-“the Dark Cave” is preserved by the Malaysian Nature Society as the species found within the cave are found nowhere else on earth.
A colossal (about 140 ft) gold statue of Murugan sits at the base of the caves and greets you as you enter. Next up you ascend many stairs to a series of shrines inside of the caves. We took a tour of the Dark Cave and I saw many creepy crawlers that still give me shivers. For me the highlight was the first appearance of monkeys. I could have happily hung out with them for hours, as they are jovial and curious little creatures.
The next day we headed into a neighborhood in the center of KL, Kampung Baru. This area, is in a desirable central part of the city and we had read that they had been offered up to 1.4 billon dollar to pack up the 35,000 locals and allow for the developers to come in and build condos, or sky scrappers, or whatever it is they do with prime real estate these days. But the elders of the neighborhood refused in lieu of maintaining traditional life. The area was developed as an agricultural settlement and remnants of the agrarian lifestyle remain. The urban chicken and rooster can still be seen scurrying around. You can read more about it here. Cheers to that! We started with food at an open street stall and planed to explore the neighborhood. The Petronas towers are visible from here and the contrast between these large symbols of oil wealth and the traditional Malaysian neighborhood is thought provoking as Globalization becomes increasingly prevalent.
I wish we had more time in KL. But since it is a major airport it is likely we will be back. From what I could tell the city center of Kuala Lumpur is a maze of covered crosswalks over highways connecting malls. Perhaps the strangest thing I saw was a billboard from Netherlands government displaying their condolences on the tragedy of MH370. I wish I could have taken a picture of this but the billboard rotated and the info on it was fleeting. Malaysia is predominately a Muslim country and I was fascinated on the trains by female only cars.