Out of the frying pan, and into the fire today. We left the city in search of FRIM, a Malaysian version of the Forestry Commission, designed to preserve the jungles around KL. However, our journey was far from simple. Taking the Komuter a few stops away, we attempted to hail a taxi down the side of a busy dual carriageway. The cab driver laughed as we agreed to pay 15 ringgit, not knowing that it was only a seven minute drive. At the entrance to the park, though, Tarryne cleverly managed to get him down to 10, as the meter was less. Take THAT, stressful haggling system!
We mainly went for the canopy walkway, a rope bridge through the jungle, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. So, we had a look round the park. The first thing we came to was an unassuming pond, with Chinese-style bridges and water lilies decorating the water. As we crossed one bridge, we noticed a dark shape lurking in the water, which slowly began to surface. It was a gigantic dino-fish, a big fat bastard about 1.5m long! It’s called an arowana fish, and here it is in its terrifying glory.
What the f*** is this??
Since I was now well and truly freaked out, and there wasn’t much else to see, we headed back to the entrance. Unluckily for us, someone thought it was a good idea to close that stretch of road at peak time, so we ended up doing an entire 45 minute loop around the park. In the heat and humidity, it felt like a lifetime for me, but Tarryne enjoyed seeing the monkeys. We also got into a bit of a marathon/relay with an athletic, Chinese exercise enthusiast. We needed some sort of motivation to keep us going!
Our next destination was the famous Batu Caves, so back on the metro. Tarryne and I have taken to riding in the ladies-only coaches, because it means we get less creepy stares from blokes. But I am constantly annoyed to find that men keep coming into the coach, even when it’s not busy. I suppose this is how people of colour must feel when white people come into their spaces and start speaking for them. Anyway, although gender segregation is inherently problematic, it’s convenient for us at the moment.
The Batu Caves were, as the Tripadvisor reviews had said, absolutely breathtaking. Granted, you have to be fit to appreciate it, because there’s 272 steps between the ground and the main shrine. It’s dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of fertility and war, and the site features an incredibly bling statue of him. The second tallest Hindu statue in the world, apparently.
On the steps, monkeys try their best to steal food, cameras, and even recently bought souvenirs. Tarryne saw one avidly studying a map. One also got into a fight with a chicken. Much entertainment. Anyway, when we reached the top, we were totally amazed by the sheer scale of the cave, and the work that had gone into building such an intricate temple. One gap yah tourist had got tilaka on her forehead (a coloured mark many Hindus wear), and then proceeded to ask the temple guard what it actually meant. Cultural appropriation eh?
We may be just as guilty, though. Tarryne got a henna design done on her hand by a local Indian lady, one of the most intricate designs I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know coloured henna existed!
I think I must be spoiled, though. My dear housemate Anaab does henna as a hobby, and she’s really good, so I’ve had it done very well for free. Or in exchange for creme egg brownies. Anyway, whilst Tarryne’s design was drying, we chatted to some Indonesian girls who had also had designs done. They took a very random selfie with us, but left before we could catch their names. So if you see us on Indonesian Facebook, that’s why.
The final cave we saw contained a lot of Hindu religious imagery. It featured hundreds of hand-painted statues depicting the story of Rama, Sita, and Ravana. Although I’m a staunch atheist myself, I found the story riveting, and kept on walking until I found the end. Beautiful waterfalls lined the cave walls, too.
I know you can’t convert to Hinduism, but if I was religious, I think it’s the one for me.
We opted to chill out this evening, so for dinner we popped to the mall next door, KL Sunway Putra. I’ve been having trouble finding vegetarian local food here, usually opting for Indian as it’s so much easier. Today, though, I hit the jackpot with Papparich, a chain with an entire menu section dedicated to vegetarians and vegans. I drank a luscious watermelon juice, teamed with local roti canai and glutinous rice with fake chicken. It’s difficult enough to find fake chicken at home, so imagine my surprise at finding it in Malaysia, which traditionally has a very meat-based diet. I don’t care if the restaurant has crap reviews on TripAdvisor. It might not be authentic Malaysian food, but as a veggie, it’s rare for me to be totally spoiled for choice!
To round off our Saturday night, we watched the light show at the KL Menara Tower from our rooftop infinity pool. Real bliss. Last full day in KL tomorrow! I’ll miss this place, but not too much, as the night before we fly to the UK we’ll be coming back. For now, I’ll watch the city go by from the comfort of our beautiful apartment.