Today was the day when I finally got out at the right bus station to get to my Guesthouse. Not one station too early, not one too late. I got out at the right one. I call it the day I figured out how to use public transport in KL. I did not take one single taxi ride today. Only travelling by bus, train and monorail. And it’s amazing. Love it. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out how to use the public transport. Somehow it seems like I lost that ability living for 5 years in Africa where apparently the only public transport is riding on the back of the zebra. That is at least what people in Thailand think about Africa 😉
Plan for the day: visit the Batu Caves! The Batu Caves are one of the major pilgrimage sites for Hindus all around the world. You have to walk up 272 stairs to get to the main temple which is built inside the caves. In 2006 they built a 140 feet tall statue of the God Murugan in front of the caves which is worldwide the tallest statue of Lord Murugan. Just to mention – it got painted in gold! As massive as it is.
I’m jumping ahead again. Let’s get to the caves. How? By metro the internet says. And if that’s the case I’ll figure it out. I know by now how to get to the nearest train station. Over there I ask at the counter if I can use my card and load more money on it. And there I enter the train station through the gates. It so modern. You can’t enter it without a valid ticket. There are different options of how you can pay for the train ride. You can buy a ticket for one trip. You get a token for it which you have to enter at the gate. Or you buy a touch and go card from KL rapid (that’s what I have) where you load money on it and it gets deducted every time you use it. You can use it in the entire public transport system in KL which is amazing. And I saw some people doing the same with their ID. I guess you can load money on the chip as well. However I just have to get to the Central station KL Sentral and find the train that goes directly to the Batu Caves. I manage that even without asking anyone at a counter since the end station of this train line is called Batu Caves.
You get separated from the train tracks with a wall and closed doors which only open up once the train arrived. To my surprise there is a whole waiting section at the train station which is reserved only for ladies. They don’t write women but say ladies. And inside the train you have an entire section where only ladies are allowed to sit. I decided to check it out, but they don’t see it that strict. Mostly women were sitting in this part of the train, but many men walked through (to look at the woman?) or just ignored the sign after reading it and sat down filled with ignorance. An elderly english couple sat down opposite of me and asked me about it. I said don’t worry, nobody really follows the sign. And we started chatting a bit. They are on a 9 month travelling trip through southeast Asia and just got out of Laos and Cambodia. Apparently very dirty, not only compared to Malayasia but especially compared to KL. The man asks me if I ever felt threatened in the city since I’m travelling alone. I shook my head and said not at all.
The one moment you feel like you are still inside the city and the next moment you see these massive limestone cliffs ahead of you. Wow, what an amazing change of scenery. The train stops next to the entrance of the caves. You walk along a path where locals sell Indian jewellery, clothing and food. And then you see it. The statue. It is enormous. Massive. Impressive. After a few minutes standing in front of it I decide to go inside the temple. There are 2 temples at the bottom of the stairs. Of course you have to take off your shoes, but you are welcome to visit the temple, if Hindu or tourist it doesn’t matter.
The Hindu stop at the different shrines and donate flowers or other items. I honestly don’t know a lot about the Hindu religion, so it is even more interesting walking through this temple. Everything is so colourful. The statues, the paintings, the wall, everything is painted in bright colours.
After a walk through the temple I step outside and put my shoes back on. Time to hike up those stairs. At the entrance of the stairs are officers standing and checking the clothing of the people walking past them. You can leave your shoes on for the journey into the caves, but your shoulders and knees have to be covered. Please respect this rule, it is part of the religion. Two women are standing on the side renting out sarongs to throw them around the shoulders or wear them as a skirt. They don’t ask you to pay any entrance fee to visit their religious site so please just follow their rules of the religion. I mention it because I saw a few girls in hot pants and single tops arguing with the staff at the bottom of the stairs. It’s embarrassing. Seriously. It is not that difficult. They even offer you clothing so just take it and go.
It’s about 10am when I head up the stairs and it’s already hot. While walking up the 272 stairs take a break and look back at the golden statue overlooking the city. It is very impressive. The size of it. The way it was built and placed.
But there is one more attraction about the caves. I would almost call it a plague but the tourists and Hindus see them more like something holy it seems. Monkeys. They are everywhere! You will see the first ones as soon as you get off the train. Running around through the crowd. Asking people to feed them or just help themselves with food. Jumping from poles onto the wall over the people. Giving some of them a fright. Others buy food just to feed the monkeys with it. Even inside the temple up in the caves is someone who is selling bananas and coconut fruits just for you to give to the monkeys. The mountains are filled with them. They are literally everywhere.
And back to the actual holy place. It rained last night. So does it now inside the caves. Since the water is running down the mountain it ends up running down the limestone cliffs and drops into the cave. Not just a little bit. A lot of people are wearing umbrellas. Inside the cave. And it’s not a bad idea. Had to protect my camera at a few spots from the water.
But look at this beauty. Such an amazing temple. So much detail. Colours. Lots of statues around it and inside of it. I love it.
This is the main temple of the Batu Caves and this is the first one inside the big cave.
If you keep on walking you get to a few more stairs which lead you to another temple. Protected by doves and overrun by monkeys.
There are many signs inside the caves. The signs are warning especially about the rule that you are not allowed to smoke inside the caves.
Very spectacular place. It makes me curious about this religion. The culture. It makes me wanting to read more about Hinduism. Very fascinating place.
But I like as well how this spot was chosen. A religious place covered and built into the nature without destroying the scenery.
As I get back down I’m not only wet from the water dripping on me but as well from sweating a lot. What else. Time for a refreshing coconut I would say =)
And after a bit of wondering around, checking out the souvenirs shoes and Indian food stalls I head back to the train station. This time a security guy walks through the waggon (or coach, this is how they call a section inside a train in KL) and sends all men out of the ladies coach.
If you’re doing research about things to do in Kuala Lumpur you will step over a few names of shopping malls which are must visits how everyone describes it. I am not a big shopping queen (not possible if you’re travelling with as little as possible). And I did not decide to visit any shopping malls, but I ended up every day inside at least two malls. The one is at the bottom of the Petronas Tower and I always walked through it to get to the park on the other side and then there is a shopping mall at every single train station, so as soon as you leave the train you’re inside a mall. All of these mall were not interesting for me. Just looking at the brand names of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and how all these expensive brands are called, is enough for me. Not my thing. What I did like though and where I went to because I wanted to is the Central Market. Very nice place. Not too big. Tiny little shops. Affordable prices. But there was one more mall mentioned in the articles I planned to check out. The Berjaya Times Square. Apparently a massive shopping mall and it has a theme park inside of it. A what? Yes a theme park inside a shopping mall. Sounds crazy. Is crazy. But how to get there? I told you that I fell in love with the train system. After getting back to Sentral station I walked up to the information center asked the lady how to get to the Times Square. Take the monorel and get off at imbi station. But how do I find the Monorail train? Walk up there and follow the signs. Now I feel stupid, thanks for the explanation. I take the escalator and see already the first sign Monorel. Too easy. Following the signs through the shopping mall. At the Main station is of course a massive mall. And then I get to the little Monorail train. Part of Kuala Lumpurs amazing public transport system. The previous train I used was by the way a fully automatic train which works without a driver! So impressive. I was standing at the front of the train and could look directly onto the train tracks. Weird feeling. Ultra modern system. And it seems to work. One entire Line in KL is using that system.
That is a picture of the Monorail station and the Monorail train. But back to the shopping Mall. This Mall is huuuuuuuuuge. It has lots of smaller shops, lesser known brands and no name brands, but it doesn’t end. Each level has several corners and extra „streets“ so I never managed to walk up an entire level. Moved eventually to the next one. And it’s high! Doesn’t seem to end. I went all the way up just to check if there are still shops on the upper levels and yes there are! Less shops and fewer people, but it’s still part of the mall. And then somewhere on the middle levels I see the entrance to like a side hall. The theme park. And suddenly a rollercoaster runs on top of your head and people are screaming. It’s crazy! There are a lot more attractions happening in the themepark, but I wasn’t interested in using them so I saved the entrance fee and just watched from outside the theme park inside the Mall..
Oh, it started raining again. Massive thunderstorm and lightening happening outside. I think I can rest for a few hours. With the Monorail, then train and bus I get back to my guesthouse in half an hour. Using the public transport system 3 days in Kuala Lumpur cost me 30 RM which is about the same price I paid for one single taxi ride within the city. And with the taxi you still wait in traffic. Plus point for the train. Anyway I highly recommend using the public transport. It’s modern, easy to use and if you don’t know where to go simply ask. People will help you because they speak English!
The next day I’m flying out, but before leaving the city I head one more time to the KLCC Park for breakfast and a chilled hour in the park. Love this place. Next time I’ll definitely go playing in the public swimming pool over here. Looks fun. And it’s free =)
I made my decision yesterday already to definitely not take a taxi to the airport which took me on the day of arrival about 1,5h from the airport due to traffic in the centre but to take the train. KLIA EKSPRES it is called and is apparently the fastest train in southeast Asia. Driving in one go from the Central station to the airport. No stops in between. 4G on board. 30 minutes total time. 60 kilometres distance. Amazing.
The drive went by that fast, that I didnt even manage to finish one part of this article. But I’m not complaining. Got some time to kill at this massive airport and then I’m on my way back to Thailand =)
I will definitely be back here. In Kuala Lumpur. In Malaysia. To see more of this fascinating country…