Tuesday 25 February 2014

Batu Caves

Caught a train 13k north of KL to the Batu Caves. It is a Hindu shrine and at the base of the 272 steps up to caves is a massive golden statue.
I was worried about the steps as there are lots of monkeys on them and they march up and down, looking for any signs of weakness amongst the tourists.
They are after food, carrier bags and shiny objects such as sunglasses, and are known to scratch and bite if they see something that they want.
Fortunately we made it unscathed and walked through into the caves.
There are stalls at the entrance selling pictures of Hindu gods that light up and flash in time to chanting music.
Further inside the roof is very high and there are also little shrines in dark corners with strange sculptures and candles. There are also temples where worshippers come to pray, as well as pigeons, cockerells and a few monkeys wandering around.

Sunday 23 February 2014

New swimming record

We have been engrossed in the Winter Olympics for the past two weeks, and we set our own record this morning by swimming about a mile in our pool.
It is quite small - I measured it a few days ago with a broomstick and I think it is about 16.5 metres - and we swam 100 lengths.
A mile is actually 1609 metres, so we probably only needed to do 99 lengths, but we did an extra one for luck.
As a result, we sat around for most of today, but we went out for Sunday lunch and burned our mouths out on hidden chilli at Miss Kwan's cafe.
The sunset was pretty dramatic and as always our skyscraper neighbours are twinkling nicely.
Only a few more days to enjoy it and then we are continuing our travels.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Hands Percussion Concert

Decided that we needed a bit of culture this afternoon, so we went to KL's main concert hall, Istana Budaya to see the Hands Percussion Concert.
It has received fantastic reviews and is a modern interpretation of traditional Malaysian music.
We had our photo taken with a drum on the way in, and we sat next to a huge group of overexcited children on a school trip, but they were pretty well behaved.
We weren't sure if we would like it, but the time whizzed by and the concert was amazing, lots of drumming, dancing, and some great and imaginative special effects.
Afterwards, it was announced that the performers would be available to meet the audience, so we quickly made our way over to them. Nobody had asked them for a photo, so I plucked up the courage to speak to one of the silver faced drummers and all of his mates ran over to pose as well. They were all lovely and made a great afternoon very special.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Sleepy seats

Today we went to see a beautiful little traditional wooden Malaysian village house, that had been moved amongst the skyscrapers in the centre of KL.
It was a lovely little place, but all of the photos look really boring so I had to find something a bit brighter for the blog.
Nearly every day we walk through a paved area with square holes where tall, thin trees have been planted to make it cool and shady.
There are also about 20 painted concretes armchairs, and  it is as if everyone who sits down has a spell put on them, and they fall asleep.
We only stopped for a minute or two today, so didn't nod off, I think, but it is always full of taxi drivers, skateboarders, tourists (pics 1 and 2), office workers, students (pic 3) and construction workers (pic 4) having power naps.

Monday 17 February 2014


Klang is a town with a lovely name that is a 45 minute train ride from KL.
We decided to visit just because we could. There was nothing about it on TripAdvisor, so we were not expecting too much - which was lucky as we didn't find much.
Initially, first impressions seemed promising as there was a notice board outside the station telling us about its history, and a map of 17 other places of interest  together with a walking route.
Fortunately, I took a photo of the map as we couldn't find any more information about it.
The walk took us along busy roads, usually without pavements and across very fast dual carriageways.
We found a few of the attractions, but the river (which we found but was definitely not an attraction), was filthy and had loads of rubbish floating down it to the sea.
After about half way around the route there were no more notice boards and the last kilometre took us through an almost completely derelict area. I was drawn by the 'for sale' sign on one of the properties though.
I imagine that we must be among very few tourists ever to attempt this route, and we appeared to be the only tourists in town today.
We are totally anonymous in KL, but it was nice to be noticed in Klang and people waved, shouted hello to us and pipped their motorbike horns at us.
Not the most exciting day out ever though.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Little India

We went on a walking tour of Little India this morning.
It started well as our guide stopped in front of a market stall that sold fried vegetarian snacks. He handed round a selection and I chose a sort of doughnut shaped item that was delicious - spicy, crunchy, hot and greasy. 
We then wandered slowly around looking at temples, churches, mosques, the YMCA, old buildings, etc.
We took our shoes off, washed our feet and went inside a Hindu temple. There were strange knocking noises that sounded like building work being done, but was actually worshippers who bring coconuts, crack them open and leave them as offerings.
Everyone inside seemed occupied with rituals and tasks and we learned that every 12 years, water is brought over from the river Ganges and the walls of the temple - pic 2 - are washed clean.
After the tour ended we headed back to the stall, bought a load of different goodies and scoffed them on the way home.

Friday 14 February 2014

Mass Wedding Ceremony

What a surprise today.  We went to see Thean Hou Temple, which is usually a very quiet temple that is a bit out of the way, and is at the top of a hill.
Although we knew that it was Valentine's day today, we had no idea that it was also the annual Chinese Lantern Festival. They only fall on same day every 19 years, so it was a double romantic celebration.
As we walked up the street towards the temple we could see that it was packed full of beautifully dressed people and we arrived just in time for a Mass Wedding Ceremony. I have no idea how many couples got married today, but I would estimate at least 100.
Of course, the Lions were there (over the past two weeks we must have seen them almost every day) and lots of couples posed for pictures with them.
There was also a backdrop covered in pink hearts and cupids, and a queue of couples waiting their turn for a photo.
We were given a lovely heart shaped pink balloon that I was going to take back to our apartment, but I waved it a bit too close to a prickly plant on the journey home and popped it.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

National Monument

Went on a trek to the Malaysian National Monument that commemorates the soldiers who have fought in wars since 1914.
We had a map from Tourist Information that we knew was a bit dodgy, but it was a surprise to find that the lake shown near a large hotel on the map was nowhere near it in real life. Also, some of the attractions appeared to have been carefully spaced apart on the map, maybe to make it look pretty, but were actually all over the place.
We tried to follow the few signposts that were around but they took us in a circle and then stopped.
I was ready to chalk it up as a 'fail', but Darren was keen to carry on, and eventually I spotted the Monument on top of a hill behind some trees.
It was enormous and imposing, and the whole area was very peaceful. Behind the Monument was a lovely fountain and an area where poppy wreathes had been laid.
We then made our way back and managed to quite easily find the National Flower Garden (hibiscus), but disappointingly there were not many of them in flower, and the best one was a plastic one in a fountain.

Monday 10 February 2014

Swimming pool worries

Is it just me, or do other people worry slightly about swimming so high up in the air?
The views are fantastic, but the cars do look very tiny so far down below.
For some reason I have started making mental contingency plans in case of incidents and I have two that involve this pool:
1. If the side wall collapses and water starts pouring down the building, then swim quickly to a pillar and hold on very tightly.
2. If the weight of water is so heavy that water falls through to the floor below, then try and avoid the hole and jump out very quickly.
Is there anything else I should be aware of?

Friday 7 February 2014

KL Bird Park

Exciting day today as we went to KL Bird Park, which has the world's largest free-flight walk-in aviary. That is a very complicated way of saying that most of the park is covered with enormous nets. They are so high that you forget they are there, and you wander around in a wonderland of jungle and birds, and it seems completely natural.
In fact, this is what jungle nature viewing should be like - unlike our previous numerous bird watching attempts in Borneo where we hardly ever saw any birds. Here you can practically trip over them.
You can also get your photo taken with a huge array of birds from across the globe - unfortunately we were too tight to pay for it ourselves, but pic 1 is of a total stranger enjoying the experience.
A highlight was seeing hornbills flying around and coming down to catch fruit thrown to it by a keeper, as we tried hard but never saw any in the wild.
Daz had a try at feeding cabbage leaves to a bird that was taller than he was (ostrich if you are wondering) and I loved our visit to Bul Bul land.
This was a large aviary within a giant aviary, filled with brightly coloured Bulbul birds.
As we sat on a bench enjoying the view another tourist came in, switched his iPhone on to play swing music pretty loudly, took his shoes off and dipped his toes into the fish pond, then sauntered around barefoot. We were sorry when he left.
Ps, just checked my bird chart and pic 5 is actually not a Bulbul, but disappointingly is a Golden breasted starling.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Little Ben and the Spotted Dog

Went on a guided walk this morning around the Merdeka Square area of downtown Kuala Lumpur.
Most of the buildings were built by the British during the late 1800s and are clustered around a large grass square where cricket was played.
The original Government building has a clock tower and is known Little Ben - obviously after Big Ben in London.
We also went for a drink at the Royal Selangor Club, which is where the rich British settlers used to socialise. It originally was a men only members club, but it was eventually changed to allow women in.
Once they were admitted they used to visit with their dalmatians. (Sorry but I have no idea why they all owned spotty dogs.)  As dogs were not allowed they left them tied up outside of the club, where they were seen by all the passersby.
When the Club caught fire and almost burnt to the ground in 1990 the local paper had the headline 'fire at the Spotted Dog'.
No sign of any while we were there though.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Living well in a KL

Not got a lot to report at the moment. We are relaxing in our apartment, Darren is running every morning, I am persevering with the French and we are both swimming every afternoon in the pool.
It is on 34th floor of our block and has been pretty busy for the last few days. However, now that the Chinese new year holidays are over and everyone is back at work, we found that it was completely empty today.
We have also been eating well - today we had an Indian Thali meal that cost just over £2 each. It came with ten little dishes and as I learned from previous experience, one of them is pudding. The trick is to work which one it is and not to pour curry sauce over it, as they always very sugary sweet.
Yesterday we also had a curry each, that time at a street side 'hawker' cafe. We had a lovely curry each and a soft drink and it cost £2 in total for everything.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Yet more lions

Out and about today enjoying the holiday atmosphere. Everywhere we look are red lanterns, pink plastic cherry blossom and quite a few strange statues. I don't know what this one is, but loads of people were posing with it, so I felt compelled to join in.
As I mentioned before, this year is the year of the horse. There are twelve different types of years and disappointingly, I am an ox, but I think that beats Darren's goat.
We were in a shopping centre when we came across another set of lions and they were just about to start dancing. The Chinese family next to us were really excited, particularly the youngest boy. However, as soon as the drums started and the lions started leaping about, he crawled behind his dad's legs and stayed there for the whole show.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Lion Dance

Went to see a Lion Dance outside the Petronas Towers this afternoon, that was to celebrate the Chinese new year .
It started with a lot of drumming, then suddenly a lion appeared from behind the crowd. It was quite shy at first, just walking around on all fours, then it started jumping and waving about, blinking its eyelids and opening its mouth.
The best bit was when it jumped up and pranced along the posts in front of the band. It moved just like real lion and it was impossible to see how the two men inside could leap so smoothly.
Very, very good show.