So, I went on an impromptu trip to Malaysia for a week. We had a school break coming up, and I knew I had to get away from the island (though it had only been two months since I arrived—that speaks volumes to how high stress things are around these parts). I knew I wanted to leave the island, and Ross was going to be visiting me, so I figured we could escape together and check out a tiny piece of another continent. So I did what any frugal person does, and I found the cheapest tickets to anywhere in Asia, which happened to be Kuala Lumpur—the capital city of Malaysia.
Perfect. After some hiccups with trying to buy tickets (because, you know, AsiaAir was apparently no longer going to be operating in Mauritius, and we somehow snagged up tickets before that all ended), we were ready to go. I knew absolutely nothing about Malaysia, but was excited for the food, the culture, and whatever ridiculous stories might develop.
The first few days were mostly walking around and exploring. Actually, most days included many, many miles put on our poor little feet. We explored a bunch of restaurants in the area, and eventually got to check out some amazing markets–namely Central Market, the China Town on Petaling Street, and Little India. Ross and I tried durian for the first (and last) time. At first, it tasted like a Swiss Miss roll, and then quickly changed to engine grease and farts and garlic. The latter taste never seemed to go away (especially when burping). And I do apologize if I’m being culturally insensitive. It’s just not my most favorite taste of all time.
Malaysia has some BEAUTIFUL temples, so we got to check out some of those as well. Pictured here is one of the smaller temples near Petaling Street (China Town), called Sri Mahamariamman Temple–the oldest Buddhist temple in the city, built in 1873 and relocated + rebuilt in the 1900s. We didn’t know it existed, but we were walking around China Town, and two men stopped us to talk to Ross about his t-shirt and tattoos, a fairly regular occurrence everywhere we travel (Ross has this natural talent for inviting really strange encounters with other humans). But yeah, they invited us to the temple at 4:30 for the prayer, and so we went. BEAUTIFUL architecture. Beautiful traditional music. So many colors and such intricate work. Would ya just look at it????
Of all the temples, my favorite was the Batu Caves, where a 140 ft statute of Lord Murugan (the Hindu god of war) stands outside the mountain. The main temple requires hiking up the staircase and going through a cave, up another staircase and into a second cave. The acoustics inside are pretty amazing. Also, some really gnarly stalactite and stalagmite formations. Outside, there are monkeys everywhere, and they are assholes. But the babies are so darn cute. We both got to interact quite a bit with them, which was exciting and awful (a bigger one jumped on me and wouldn’t let go as it climbed up my legs, up my waist, and eventually jumped off). Ross fed some baby monkeys water from his water bottle. Then I did it. Then they tried to unzip my purse. I guess that’s what it’s like having children. You care for them, and then they raid your wallet?
Oh yeah, then we checked out the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park, which I sort of thought might be kind of lame, but it was in my dorky tourist book under must-see places, so we went. And it was amazing! So beautiful inside—butterflies and bugs everywhere. Bridges and water and tons of greenery. Some of the butterflies became our buddies and landed on our hands and went for walks with us. After losing our minds over butterflies, we went into a bug gallery area with dead bugs and live bugs… tarantulas and giant walking sticks. We discovered what might be the most hilarious and amazing creation on earth… the Man-Faced (Stink) Bug. These bugs have faces on their… shells? Backs?Each one with a unique face. Giant eyes. Flared nostrils. Fat lips. An old man mouth. Squinty eyes. Whatever. But they all had the same hair—this badass bouffant on top with cool black-and-white striped sides. We watched them crawl around, laughing and wondering what the hell was going on. Could this be real? Why didn’t we know about these little guys before? For cute.
After that, we visited the National Mosque of Kuala Lumpur for a bit. For some reason, there was a row of massage chairs in the giant open space outside of the prayer hall. So we decided—though it felt so wrong—to get full body massages à la those massage chairs. And I don’t regret it. One, because it always feels good to get your back muscles ripped to shreds like that. And two, because I made some slow-motion videos of Ross that are both disturbing and comical. You can bet your boots that I’d upload the videos to this blog if the Wi-Fi weren’t so awful.
We also went to the top of the KL Tower, which is (according to my friend Wikipedia) “the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world”… whatever that means. It’s pretty tall. There’s a sky deck, an observation deck, and a revolving restaurant. We walked quite a distance to get there (and up a giant hill). At the top, we were breathless but determined to try to eat dinner at the restaurant, only to be told that we needed reservations. We were also told (pretty bluntly) that it was a ‘black tie’ kind of place… and that perhaps our dirty outfits weren’t quite cut out for the atmosphere. Okay, the worker didn’t say that exactly, but he definitely made it clear that our outfits weren’t nice enough (since when is a stretched out cotton shirt with flying geese print not formal?). But if you know us, you know that we don’t own nice clothes… so yeah, we decided to go up to the sky deck instead. It was $18/person or so just to ride an elevator up there… and then stand around and take a few photos. They have these glass box things (pictured here) that you stand in to be photographed, but there were so many people wanting photos. They had a worker that stood there with a timer and gave everybody 2 minutes each to do their own photo shoot. Which is a really long time to stand there and pose with a bunch of strangers watching you. But soooo many people took the full 2 minutes, posing in every corner of the glass box, standing, squatting, sitting, looking over their shoulders. It was kind of funny. One thing I’ve noticed in other countries/cultures is that men really enjoy their photo shoots. When it got to our turn, we got into place, posed, and left. Max time, 6 seconds. Not entirely sure that it was worth the $40 but hey, not sure when we’ll get back to Malaysia. And it’s a good story, anyhow.
The rest of the trip was filled with mostly walking around, playing drums at our AirBnB, eating $2 bean curd clay pots or talking to taxi drivers about their lives. Learning about Hinduism and seeing all of the temples was great. I loved watching the ceremonies as the gods or goddesses were showered in milk, honey, fruits, and other offerings. The music was beautiful, and everybody seemed to be at peace. The temples are so colorful, too. Certainly a stretch from my experiences in a Lutheran church in the Midwest. I can’t pretend that I remember all of the names or stories of the gods and goddesses of Hinduism. I don’t. Not at all. But reading about or listening to the stories was quite an experience. I’ve always loved Greek Mythology, and in a way, that might be why I enjoyed this part of the trip. So many awesome stories, so many epic battles. So many odd deaths or acts of treason or infidelity or sacrifice. If only I had the memory capacity to keep those stories with me. This is definitely an area that I wouldn’t mind learning more about in the future.
So that’s my trip to Malaysia in a nutshell. This is mostly a summary for my family and friends who I completely ignore or forget to respond to.
I’m sorry. Forgive me. And also forgive me for the fact that things probably won’t change.