Day 180: Getting my bearings…


I set my alarm for 7am and was surprised to find it was still dark outside.

I’ve been used to an earlier sunrise though this did mean a dramatic view while I ate breakfast. Some kind soul had left a tub of oats at the hostel – I haven’t had porridge for six months. It’s amazing what you miss.

The hostel is six stops down the metro line from the Batu Caves. That made this morning’s decision about what to do quite easy.

It could only be a 15 minute ride.

Guess again, Moschops.

Actually, that is broadly correct, but at 8am, there is only one train an hour and I had a twenty minute wait. Could have been worse.

The train, when it arrived, then terminated at the next station and I waited for another train to get me to the Caves. It was just before 9am before I arrived there.

I was beginning to conclude that Kuala Lumpur is a city that you can’t dash around in.

Jerome (the owner of the hostel in Melaka) had thought four days was too long to spend in KL, travel time indicates it’s just right for a saunter (rather than a sprint) between the sights.

The Batu Caves are the home of several Hindu temples built inside huge caverns in the rock. The most famous one is reached by a steep climb up painted steps, while fending off shy but hungry monkeys who assume that because one group of tourists is feeding them, everybody is feeding them.

It was a highly entertaining climb watching the nimble animals leap and bound up the steps.

The caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and are dedicated to Lord Murugan.

Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920 and have since been replaced by 272 concrete steps.

In August 2018 the 272 steps were painted in an extraordinary colour scheme, with each set of steps painted in a different range of colours.

While the Batu Caves are free to visit, there’s a smaller temple that is worth a visit for 5MYR.

The Ramayana Cave is decorated with models illustrating legends from Rama’s life. It’s not clear whether the story is told entirely in order or whether key details are missed out from the narrative.

Example: Rama marries Sita… for some reason she is persuaded to send him into the forest for fourteen years… they are then crowned…Rama then has to go into battle with an enemy and at the end Rama and Sita give thanks to god for proving her chastity.

I must have missed something in the Cave.

I headed into KL Sentral as this seemed to be the most likely place to buy the advertised travel pass.

This was where I discovered that actually Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have a metro system. I think I could be forgiven for thinking it did based on the maps displayed.

At first glance, this looks like an underground map.

It is, but it isn’t one system. There are four or five companies running the different lines and Lines 1 and 2 are run by a company that are not part of the travel pass system.

An integrated system? Try wishing for unicorns.

The travel pass will allow you to use the other eight lines though not the buses. Is it worth it?

At 35MYR for a card plus three days travel, you might think that you would struggle to get value for money when journeys up and down Lines 1 and 2 come in at only 2-3MYR each.

However, the starting fee for a ride on the monorail is 5MYR and other than the Batu Caves, all of my journeys are going to be off Lines 1 and 2.

So, yes, it does work out at really good value… and you also get a really good view of the city.

After an hour’s stroll around Brickfields, mostly to see some of the stunning Hindu temples, and the area where the Tamil Indians who had a major role in the construction of the city, I jumped back on the monorail.

We passed the blue painted dome of the Al Bukhari Mosque, new development projects amid the older buildings and it helped me to get my bearings.

Kuala Lumpur doesn’t really have a city centre – it’s got several hubs. I was on my way to one of them, the brilliantly named Chow Kit.

It pretty much is a chow kit – it’s a huge market selling everything: fruit, veg, fish, meat and row upon row of whole chicken carcasses, some of which were being blow torched.

I’m not sure what was going on there so it’s another one for Google.

Coronavirus warnings abound. The city and especially the Chow Kit market, was quieter than I would have expected. Markets throughout Vietnam were bustling and Ho Chi Minh City had barely any pavement space available.

My wandering around Kuala Lumpur hasn’t been as quiet as Melaka but it hasn’t had the crowds of a usual capital city.

This isn’t only travellers and tourists staying away. This is people staying home, avoiding public spaces and especially markets.

I finally caught a busy train, the first one where I haven’t found a seat, to the Petronas Towers.

Having spent yesterday evening and this morning looking at the Twin Towers, I thought that I should go and see them.

Finished in 1998 as the headquarters of the state owned oil company Petronas, they cost $1.6million (USD). Building was almost a race with Japanese and Korean teams in charge of the construction of each tower.

The Japanese reached the top first but the Koreans engineered the Skybridge which connects the two towers at Levels 41 and 42.

It is a fantastic structure and after wandering around… I haven’t decided on whether I’m going up the Towers. I think the best view of the city includes the Towers and I won’t see them from up there.

Have I mentioned the view from my hostel?

Categories: Malaysia, Public Health, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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