After our simple breakfast we headed out to the National Mosque. Kirsten wore her head scarf (purchased earlier) and I remembered to wear long pants, I even shaved well just in case. The mosque was very beautiful, and from the inside did not look so much like the Jedi Temple, there was a comfortable feeling to the place – perhaps inviting would be the word. I took lots of photos.
Our next stop was the butterfly park, which is basically a massive net strung in the trees, about the size of a football field. Inside the net was a concrete landscaped garden with fish ponds and of course many butterflies. The net must make a mini greenhouse effect because it was much more humid inside and I was saturated within a minute. I guess if butterflies are your thing then you would like it there, Kip enjoyed it.
Next stop was Sentral to buy our train ticket to Singapore, we got a first class ticket for the 7 hour journey for only AUD$23. Thought we’d try the public transport so got the light rail to Chinatown, very easy. Navigated through yet another market, where I discovered that L is the largest size tshirt available, so no tshirts for me. We found a food area, where I had another type of kway teow, this time with “everything” and “spicy”. Everything turned out to be some kind of small shellfish, possibly cockles. They tasted a bit like fishy oysters. It was alright but not really very spicy. Kirsten once again chose poorly and admitted that I am the best at choosing food.
We decided to catch a bus to Batu Caves, but as we don’t know the city we got a cab to the bus stop. En route the driver convinced us to let him take us the whole way. His name was Charlie and he was Chinese-Malaysian (Malaysia comprises 3 main ethnic groups: Malay; Chinese; and Indian). Charlie was very chatty and helpful. One attraction that he told us about is an area not far from KL where many fireflies come out at night, which is apparently the “8th Wonder of the World”. Of course like many cabbies he gave me his card and offered to take me there and back at any time for a good price. We got to Batu Caves in about half an hour, the trip cost RM15 (about AUD$5).
The caves contain a Hindu temple, and are perhaps best known as the site of an annual festival where the devout go into a trance state and place metal hooks through their skin. From the hooks they hang burdens, ranging from pieces of paper to heavy metal objects. We climbed the 272 steep steps to the Temple Cave, where we were rewarded with the sight of many cat-sized monkeys. This was the first time I had ever seen wild monkeys, and as a bonus first I also saw a squirrel. We sat for a while and watched them play, the little babies were very cute and amusing. On the way out we admired the many cool statues, of course ignorant of their meaning or who they depict. Another cab back to KL, strangely the ride back, following the same route, cost only RM8. Perhaps Charlie took us on a bit of a ride while he spoke.
I have been planning to get a new suit whilst in South East Asia, Jem recommended a tailor in Bangkok but I don’t have enough time to go that far in this trip. Phil suggested Singapore as a cheap place, but looking at their prices for everything else I think they might be (comparatively) pricey. I decided to get a suit made in KL, maybe not as cheap as Bangkok but it fits in best with our travel plans. We went to a taxi rank and asked the drivers if they knew of a tailor. One piped up that he knows a man very well and offered to take us there – on the meter no less! He took us straight to Chew’s, but unfortunately Mr Chew was not there, so as the second option he took us to a shopping centre that has a few tailors. Not the best option as this was a pricey place – suits cost RM4900 which is slightly out of my price range. This shopping centre could have been in Australia, all of the same shops and brands. Not what this trip is about.
We decided that it was time for a beer, so set out walking for a bar we had seen on the way. Took a while but we were rewarded with great views of the Petronas Towers (from below), and eventually we were nursing some cold Carlsbergs and noticing the gathering storm clouds. Not noticing well enough, though, as we were caught in a downpour not 5 minutes later and had to huddle under a bus shelter. We could not hail a cab so made the 100m dash back to the bar now saturated. We got a few more drinks and finally satay. A tasty meal.
Off looking for a cab back tot he hotel, the Universe was looking out for me, as the driver was a former tailor so we diverted to find one. Mr Chew was of course still not there so he took us to another old Chinese man, Mr Yap. The cabbie actually came in with us and sat waiting during the 25 minute measuring and negotiation. I have never had anything tailor made, there are so many decisions to make. I never realised that suits have so many options and features. I chose a nice charcoal for the suit and two white-based cottons for the shirts. All up it cost under RM900, perhaps not the best price but still much better than Sydney and much better than Europe. And of course it is tailor made so will fit me perfectly. The cab driver took us back to the hotel, and only added RM6 to the fare to cover his 25 minute wait! We tipped him very well for his trouble anyway.
Back at the hotel, a few beers in the bar while I write down notes for this post in my trusty moleskine, and off to bed early for our early start tomorrow.