Before I left for my trip to Malaysia, I found out that my friend Paige will also be backpacking across South East Asia around the same time. Hence, a verbal agreement that we would meet up somewhere in Kuala Lumpur was born. A few days before she was due to arrive in Malaysia, we got in touch through Facebook and arranged to meet up at Batu Caves.
As all travellers know, plans don’t always work out. On June 14, 2013, my group arrived first at the caves, with Paige and her friends an hour or so behind us. In my mind, I had a mini-panic: What if we don’t end up meeting up here? How am I supposed to find her amidst all these tourists? Then my rational side told me that we could always try to meet up another time. With that in mind, my group left the train station and began to explore.
The first thing that caught our attention was not the golden statue of the Hindu deity that is synonymous with Batu Caves. Instead, it was a giant green monkey who greeted us with his crossed arms and imposing stance.
After a few photos with Hanuman, we walked into a Hindu temple next to the statue. We saw many ornate statues brightly painted and decorated with fresh flowers. A few Hindus were maintaining the shrines as well.
A few more steps took us closer to the stairs leading to the caves.
The massive gold statue of Lord Murugan (the god of war and victory) was to the right of the stairs, inviting visitors to enter.
We began to climb the 272 steps the led to the top, but we took plenty of breaks to take photos of the journey and of the monkeys we met along the way.
These monkeys were like a band of mischievous munchkins. While cute and adorable from afar, they are not at all afraid of people and can get aggressive towards tourists. On the way down, a friend was opening his bag of chips when a monkey grabbed on to the bag and won the tug-of-war for the fried snack. So hold on tight to your personal belongings and leave the snacks in your bag until you’re far away from the monkeys!
After meandering up the stairs, we came across our first cave: Bat Cave. This cave was very dark beyond the entrance, and tours (approx. RM 35-45) were offered for those who were interested in up-close encounters with the winged mammals.
Higher up than Bat Cave was the entrance to the caves. As I arrived at the entrance, I was greeted by a familiar face waving at me. I instinctively waved back while trying to figure out where I have met him before. Then I hear an excited “Cathy!” behind me. I turn around to find Paige facing me. We hugged excitedly and I remembered that the person I first saw is Kingsley, whom I’ve met a few times before. Soon, I was introduced to the last member of their group in KL, Kelvin.
It was a little bit of a surreal experience to meet up with people from Vancouver half way across the world. It was as if a bit of my past “real life” came into my present “surreal life” to say “Hey! This is real too.” It was great to catch up with Paige and hear some of their travel stories across S.E. Asia as well.
Inside the caves, large openings in the limestone formations allowed natural lighting to come in, illuminating the many shines and sculptures inside.
After coming down the steps, we walked into one of the Indian restaurants catering to the visiting tourists. I ordered a masala dosa, and a fresh coconut to wash it down with.
The dosa is a crepe made from fermented rice and bean batter, and this one was stuffed with potatoes that’s been pan-fried in spices. It was served with a range of sides/sauces which came in buckets and we spooned onto our plate. The white coconut chutney(?) was rather bland, but the others (one was dhal and I was not sure about the other) gave some spiciness if nothing else to the dosa.
The coconut water was very hydrating, I was really surprised by how much liquid was inside the coconut! Don’t expect a very intense coconut taste. The young coconut water is actually slightly sour, not sweet.
Batu caves was definitely a worthwhile experience, especially if you have an interest in Hindu religion or mischievous monkeys.