Sunday, January 15, 2012

Whirlwind Malaysia Adventure

Kuala Lumpur
Our friendly hardstand neighbours, Des and Marilyn from Tasha D.M again offered to drive us into Lumut to catch our bus. Travelling with Sri Maju bus, the trip to Kuala Lumpur was smooth. Rene continued to work on learning Linear Algebra while I took the opportunity to sleep and look out the window at Malaysia. It's a beautiful country - if you shut your eyes while driving past the thousands of acres of Palm Oil plantations.

As our bus inched along in a traffic jam, I started getting a feel for KL – the capital of Malaysia. What I noticed was different to the smaller towns we’ve visited was the higher number of homeless men sleeping, sprawled out over benches throughout the city. I also noticed a lot more rubbish and LOTS more people. We arrived at a bus station somewhere and bumbled our way along trying to navigate the complicated train, LRT and Monorail lines. They don’t all match up and the tickets are not always transferable. I leveled up with my navigation skills and found the way to our hostel, the Matahari Lodge, near Pasar Seni station. We only got lost once. The hostel was welcoming and had a great little balcony lined with bamboo plants. Ben and Chihiro soon arrived along with one of Chihiro’s old school friends, Akame. She lives in KL and took us out to an up-market restaurant and performance venue. We were the first to arrive and dug into the wide selection of local and western foods available in buffet style. Rene and I gorged ourselves on lasagna – a deliciousness of cheesy wonder we’ve not been able to eat for over a year!!

Indian-Malay Dancing
Indigenous Malay performance
The performances were professional and well costumed, the MC was a very flamboyant gay man with an interesting way of pronouncing some English words. ‘Selamat Datang, Welcome, ladies and gentmen’. Both Rene and Ben thought he said ‘men’s testicles’ but Rene asked and he actually said ‘men tease the girls’. I had fun taking photos with my new camera, enjoying the 14x zoom and rapid shutter speed. The performances displayed dances and costume from each district and cultural group. I loved the Indian dances and the Dayaks who wore feathered head pieces and fur, reminiscent of Native Americans. One of these performers demonstrated shooting a blow dart to pop balloons. The MC asked for a volunteer to have a go at shooting with the blow dart and I looked over to Rene who was already on his way up on stage. He never lets an opportunity to perform pass by! Ben, Rene and Chihiro all ended up on stage with some other volunteers to learn some dances and try out a bamboo jumping technique.

Ben, Chihiro and Rene learn some traditional dance moves on stage.
Full of food and with the song ‘Malaysia, the heart of Asia’ in our heads, we walked out towards the Petronas Twin Towers – formerly the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere (Taiwan has now taken the lead). These towers are pretty spectacular – I ended up with a sore neck from staring up so much. Inside them is big-name brands and we looked around a little before heading back home using the LRT system which is a monorail over the city!
Kuala Lumpur - Us posing in front of the Petronas Towers
All too soon it was time to wake up and take another train, this time to Batu Caves. These caves are special for Hindus, so are decorated with colourful statues of various gods and their mythology. The most spectacular being a giant aqua monkey opening its heart to reveal Sita and Rama inside – and an even larger golden Buddha, nearly as tall as the mountain. We walked up, behind this golden wonder, scaling the steep stairs to reach a large limestone cave above. The air was deliciously cool – a welcome reprieve from the oppressive heat and humidity of KL. More statues decorated nooks and crannies of the cave, devotees were blessed by Swami’s – some having their heads painted gold beforehand. Monkeys ran about fighting over food and water dripped into people’s eyes as they looked up to see the cave ceiling. Pretty magical.

Batu cave floor
Batu Cave - outside
Can you spot Rama and Sita inside his heart?

Batu Cave - inside
Back on the ground again, we introduced Ben and Chihiro to fresh Coconut juice and Roti Canai before heading back to our wonderfully located hostel for a nap!
The afternoon saw us braving the sweat-inducing heat to explore Chinatown. Chihiro wanted to visit a particular restaurant advertised in a tourism magazine and Ben tried his hardest to find it. This usually easy task (in Australia) is incredibly difficult in the ever-evolving KL – a city with only the occasional street sign and maps that become outdated within months of being published! He persisted nonetheless and we stumbled upon some cool sights.
Beautiful floating incense coils discovered in a random Chinese temple - KL
KL is crazy - Cars, taxis, busses motorbikes and pedestrians all swarm along in a chaotic rush. In order to cross the road one must make a desperate dash. Getting off the train means pressing against all of the people rushing in while taking care to avoid the large gap down to the tracks below. We saw an accident outside of the restaurant where a motorbike was struck by a car. There was no blood but he was very shaken (I reckon in shock) and the car driver was irate!
KL accident - the roads here are dangerous!!
 The rest of the week we spent travelling with Ben and Chihiro passed in a blur of go gogogogogoogogogo! We visited KL, Malacca and Penang all in 6 days. We visited so many temples and historic sights. We ate sooo much delicious food. We walked a lot and I took over 1000 photos. Rather than explain our journey, I've decided to simply tell it through photos (with captioning). For my Facebook friends, some of these images are repeats to the album 'Whirlwind Malaysia Adventure' but I've tried to include different ones too. Enjoy!
Cool temple scultpure

Buddha salutes the sun!

Something about this photo is awe-inspiring

Beautiful. Simple.
New Year's resolution - donate to friendly street-beggars who are selling something
Brothers having their feet cleaned by fish.

I much preferred reflexology foot massage to fish eating!

The small balcony towards the top, middle of this image is the Matahari Lodge where we stayed in KL. Busy busy!

Guesthouse in Malacca
The oldest stool in the oldest Chinese temple in Malacca
Ben was always captain navigator!

Cool architecture in the old Portugese district, Melacca
Sunset over the Malacca Straits viewed from the old fort
Chihiro loves cute cafes and coffee
Sailbirds find a birdy boat!

Asleep on the job - a common sight here.
Eating in Malacca is serious business!

Sunset on the water in Malacca listening to Reggae
After an all-night bus trip to Penang, we arrived early morning in darkness.
Celebrating good times at a Hawkers Market

Rene was obsessed that we go here because of their promise 'where the enjoy never ends'. It wasn't enjoyable though, just a loud, smoky arcade-game level with shopping levels below.

A lucky shot - the clouds looked amazing just as I was passing under this cool dragon-topped entranceway.
Another temple (left) and another cafe (right). I liked the cafe more :)
By freeing this bird, I released one of my worries. Trying out a traditional practice.
It seems the more incense burnt, the better. Check out the furnace of incense to the right!
Serenity at the floating mosque, Penang.

A nice moment at the beach on Penang Island

Where the forest meets the sea = my bliss
Brothers unite after a hard day at the wheel in Penang
Wow - what a week of travel through this crazy country called Malaysia. It was so good to catch up with some relatives and to escape the monotony of boat work. Thanks for visiting Ben and Chihiro!!

No comments:

Post a Comment