Today we continue in Malaysia to the capital Kuala Lumpur. Another bustling Southeast Asia city, growing fast. Our tour is outside of KL at the Batu Hindu temple complex built inside a 330 ft high limestone cavern. There are 275 stairs to climb to the cavern as it is located halfway up a limestone cliff. Outside is a 142 ft statue of Murugan, Hindu deity, son of Shiva. Pretty impressive as we drive up. Mel gets stopped at the bottom of the steep stairs because her knees are showing. Today she wore one of her shorter shorts and gets stopped by the fashion police. She could rent a sarong for $2, but elects to not go up the 275 steps at all. I think she planned it, at least subconsciously.
Its misty, sprinkle as I start the trek. Thank goodness there is a flat landing every 17 steps and the steps are not too tall. Our guide, Suresh keeps pace with myself and another guy as we are the slowest ones. A couple of people are carrying a pail of sand from a pile at the bottom next to a sign that asks volunteers to take a pail up with them. At the top is a sand pile they use for ongoing construction. One way to get things up those stairs.
See several people wearing orange/brown robes with shaved heads who are going up the stairs as a pilgrimage. There is a formal name for it, but sorry I don’t remember. They walk the stairs barefoot and bring an offering to the Gods, usually milk. See the picture with the guy with the urn on his head. He was trucking right along. Monkeys perch on the railings looking for food or cameras to grab. Suresh, our guide told us repeatedly “Leave the Monkeys ALONE! They are NASTY!”. He was right, one threw a coconut shell and hit the guy I was walking with on the top of the head. He said it was hard enough to hurt. Made it to the top, a bit light headed only to find the main temple was a couple hundred yards further in the cavern. Up and down another set of stairs. The main cavern is huge and open to the sky. Green vegetation growing down the sides, almost to the ground. The main temple is tucked to one side in a side cave. Its pretty small and underwhelming after that big climb up. Its starting to rain harder and I take a moment to stand in the rain, under the opening with all the green plants and tress to take in the incredible work of nature this is.
Going back down is almost as intimating as going up because of the steepness. Don’t be afraid of heights. One slip and it’s a long way down. The rain and cross traffic of people going up and down at different paces made it an intense experience. Glad it was raining though because in the sun, the heat would have been brutal.
Mel investigated several of the other temples in the complex, taking pictures of the monkeys and birds until the rain started coming down harder. She then retreated to the bus.
Next stop was as different experience as you could get. The entrance to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory is an escalator which whisks you up to the museum. No stairs here. We got a history of pewter, tin mining and Royal Selangor (over 100 years old). All of the work is done by hand. We got to try for ourselves in the School of Hard Knocks. We each get and apron, flat sheet of pewter, a wooden hammer and a wood shaping block. After stamping our name on to the plate, we are off pounding our hearts out to turn the flat plate into a rounded bowl, using the wooden block as a template. Mel’s came out nice and smooth. Mine was a bit lumpy as I was using the wrong side of the temple. Great fun by all.
On the ride back to the ship we got a picture of the KL skyline including the Petronas towers. We heard from others that the tours into KL were horrible as traffic was gridlock and there was little time to see the sights. Our trip was a bit quirky with the two completely different topics and an Oat snickers bar as our snack but we enjoyed it. We did not enjoy our guide Suresh very much. He was rude and crude. Very inappropriate. For example, on the way to the Pewter factory, he explained tin mining used water hoses to wash the tin from the hillside. The men would understand how to stream water. I will say, he was nice to me on the way up the stairs at Batu. Three quarters of the way up, he saw myself and the other guy huffing and puffing. He called us over the showed us a camphor pellet which he lit on fire and left on the railing, explaining camphor was used in incense. It gave myself and the other guy the break we needed to catch our breath to make it to the top. Otherwise, his shtick was a loser.
KL seemed like a nice, clean, vibrant city. Lots of lush foliage and terrain.