Tag Archives: kuala lumpur

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Guarded by a giant golden statue, with the cacophonous yells of monkeys, you’ll find the Batu Caves looking down upon Kuala Lumpur. Weathered and rugged limestone hills steeply climb upwards, adorned with festoons of jungle foliage, giving way to one of the most popular Hindu shrines in the world outside of India.

Upon coming to Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves was one of – if not the – top thing that we wanted to see. The caves are very easy to access. You can take the metro directly to the town of Gombak where the shrine resides for RM 4.40 (~$1.50) from KL Sentral Station. However, we had to take an Uber to the caves, as we were in Petaling Jaya which did not have rail access. This was not an issue though – it was cheap, quick, and efficient.

Consecrated Gold Statue of Lord Mudrugan

Upon arriving to the caves, you will first notice the golden statue of Lord Murugan. It towers above you at the entrance to the long staircase. Which brings me to the second thing you’ll notice immediately – the stairs. There are 272 concrete steps bringing you to the cave complex within the hill.

Batu Caves Stair Entry

The Batu Caves are an active religious site, and you should come dressed appropriately. This means wearing shirt sleeves and covered knees for me, and to covering shoulders and legs for women. If you don’t meet these requirement, you cannot enter – however there are usually attendants at the base of the stairs renting out sarongs for only a few RM each. Actually entering the cave complex itself is free.

We began our climb in the late morning under the surprisingly warm January sun. We took our time climbing the stairs, but it only took ten or fifteen minutes to reach the first landing. Along the way, we took time to admire the jungle and local inhabitants of the caves – namely monkeys.

Climbing the Stairs
Monkeys Just Hanging Out
Mischievous Monkey

The monkeys keep their distance mostly, but as we’ve learned in other locations, they are wildly unpredictable, curious, and will take a swipe at any opportunity. On the way up, we saw a baby monkey had managed to swipe an entire ice cream cone.

Monkey With Ice Cream
Monkey Stealing a Waterbottle

Dark Cave

We took our first stop at the landing of Dark Cave. The Dark Cave is an undeveloped part of the cave complex, which offers tours. There is a 45 minute guided tour for RM 35 (~$10) running every 20 minutes. For larger groups and advanced notice, you can book a 3 – 4 hour tour, further exploring the cave complex for around RM 80 (~$22) a person.

Dark Cave Entrance

We didn’t take the tour, because we didn’t have closed-toe shoes. If you have the time and opportunity it is a great tour though. The caves are home to the rarest spider in the world, endemic geckos, and other fauna found only here. The 2 km complex exhibits a wide range of geological formations with stalagmites, stalactites, cave curtains, flow stones, cave pearls and scallops, and other features. Instead of taking of the tour, we read the informative plaques at the entrance to the cave, and watched the antics of the monkeys – very entertaining.

Cave Map
Batu Caves Flow Stone
Plaque at Batu Caves

Temple Cave

After a half hour, we continued up the last third of the stairs to the shrine. When you arrive at the top of the stairs you will find a large landing opening to a large cave atrium. You will actually need to descend more steps into the main “room” which houses several small shrines.

Kyle and Bri on the Steps
Inside the main room
Shrine within Batu Caves

Various vendors will sell you trinkets, drinks, and other items while up here. Keep in mind that the drinks in the shrine are more expensive than at the base because everything must be carried up by hand – no elevator or wheel-chair access here.

Proceed further into the cave and you find another shrine in the back. Here the roof gives way and light enters the cave. This allows the cave to feel more open and inviting than many other cave complexes you may encounter.

Staircase to Interior Shrine
Shrine Within Batu Caves

Batu Caves is actually a rather recent development. The caves are estimated to be 400 million years old, and has been used by the indigenous Temuan people for centuries. Modern day usage of the caves began in 1860 with Chinese settlers  excavating guano for fertilizer. The caves then became famous after being recorded by colonial authorities and the American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878.

An Indian trader named Pillai was inspired by the ‘vel’-shaped entrance to the cave. In 1890 he founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple within the cave. Wooden steps to the temple were originally put in, but concrete steps were placed in 1920 to accommodate the heavy number of visitors.

Thaipusam

The Batu Caves serves as the premier place to be outside of India for the Hindu holiday of Thaipusam. We are still kicking ourselves for not visiting the temple during the holiday (we were in Kuala Lumpur during it).

The festival begins in the early morning hours and features devotees walking several kilometers from the the city. During their march, kavadi bearers pierce themselves will metal skewers, and elaborate shoulder carriers (Kavadi), as a display of their devotion. Priests tend to the devotees sprinkling consecrated ash over the flesh of the participants.

Thaipusam

This display is made to offer milk to Lord Murugan, the god of war within Hinduism – though he also features prominently within some sects of Buddhism in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India as well.

Thaipusam

Photo courtesy of: nina.bruja

While the display can come off as extreme and macabre, the surreal experience is viewed as a purifying bringing good luck in the coming year.

The festival is extremely crowded, attracting over a million visitors on the day (which takes place in late January or early February.

Thaipusam

Other Attractions In Batu Caves

At the base of the stairs, there are two other cave temples: the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave. Both feature Hindu statues and paintings. For those interested in the history and lore of Murugan and other Hindu teachings, these are excellent places to check out – though not free like the cave temple.

Art Museum Cave

There are numerous shops and stalls surrounding the entrance to the complex selling souvenirs, clothes, food, and drink.

I enjoyed my first of many coconuts on our travels here. Briana also managed to grab some vegetarian food easily and for a very reasonable price.

Kyle with Coconut
Veg food at nearby stall

We really enjoyed the Batu caves and recommend it for anyone visiting Kuala Lumpur. It’s a great activity for most anyone, especially families and active adults.

Things To Keep In Mind At Batu Caves

  • This is an active religious site, and as such you should dress and act respectful and modest
  • The complex is large and will take several hours to properly explore
  • The temple requires strenuous physical activity as there is no elevator or wheelchair access
  • Pay attention to the monkeys, we recommend not carrying food, and keeping water out of site when not actively drinking.
  • Keep all loose items on you or in a bag, don’t let the monkeys grab your stuff
  • Monkeys have personalities, some are far more bold and aggressive than others
  • Once a monkey has an item, it is no longer yours – don’t get bit by fighting a monkey 

~B & K

Briana Descending Stairs
Angry Monkey

Kuala Lumpur Central Market

With having finished the National Museum of Malaysia, we decided to make our way towards the Central Market and some food. We hadn’t eaten all day, and it was getting towards late afternoon, so food was the only thing on our mind.

A Stroll Through the Lake Gardens

The route would be through the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens. From the museum, you can take a short walking tunnel under the highway opening up to a large, well manicured park. A large lark goes the length of the park.

We made our way along the paved paths, through the shadows of palms for a good long while. The heat and lack of food was slowing us down a bit, but we had plenty to look at.

The Lake

Interesting Trees

After about a kilometer, we came to a large covered pavilion surrounded by baobab trees. This area of the park housed many unique trees as well as various bridges crossing the lake. There was even an edible garden area (you’re not allowed to eat the edibles though). We stayed for a short bit to rest and look, but with a long way to go, so we proceeded on.

Bridge in the Park
Kyle at the Park
Lily Pads

Nearly another kilometer had passed, and we had gone by a large children’s park, and had come to a main road. From here, you can proceed further north and you’ll find yourself at the National Monument, or you can turn south and you’ll wind up at the Bird Gardens. The Lake Gardens themselves are a very large complex that contains the previously mentioned, as well as Butterfly Gardens, Deer Park. Along the outside rim of the Lake Gardens are the National Mosque, Islamic Arts Museum, and various hotels.

However, we proceeded down the main road, away from the Lake Gardens, still in search of food. We could see the Petronas Towers off in the distance and knew from previous experience that there was at least food there, but that we would hopefully find some before that. The road continued on for about another kilometer passing a nice fountain and smaller park, and then we finally made our way into the city streets.

View of KL Tower
Water Fountain
Downtown KL

Getting Into the Thick of It

Quickly, the quiet changed into the chaos that is KL. We ended up passing by an Irish place that offered vegetarian ciabatta sandwiches, so we stopped here and got Briana something to eat. I decided I could wait a little bit longer and try to find something else later on.

Islamic Arches In KL
Downtown KL

Later on ended up being a McDonalds only a few hundred feet away, but it was ok – I got a large burger and fries, and we got an ice cream as well. The McDonalds was pretty nice all in all, but didn’t offer any unique items like the South Korean McD’s did.

Exploring a Concrete Jungle

With our stomachs satisfied, we began our more serious search for Central Market. By this time, I’d managed to get data working on my phone, and we’ve managed to at least use the maps and gps to get around town. But we needed to be wary. The bikers around here are notorious for stealing phones and purses from people’s hands – and several were eyeing my phone and had that calculating look in their eye about how to make off with it.  So I kept it close, and put it back in my pocket. We had to cross the street, but for whatever reason, KL doesn’t seem to do cross walks, so we had to just time ourselves with the light and try to avoid getting hit by the bikers who ignore every rule.

Downtown KL
KL City Streets

Arriving at the Central Market

After a close call with a bike, we had finally made it across and proceeded on to the Central Market. It was only a few more minutes walk there and we finally arrived.  Central Market was first established in 1888 as an open-air wet market, but was renovated to it’s current state in 2004 to meet the needs of tourism and modernity. However, it still retains it’s charms and is a great place to wander and find authentic items.

There is a main street that has many street venders, but upon turning inside, you’ll find dozens of shops and stalls. Ranging from clothes, to trinkets, to antiques – food, drink, toys, and everything between, you can find anything. Briana bought some pants in a local style, which have worked out quite nice here. I would have liked to pick up a souvenir, but we could not have sent it back to the states, nor carried it with us on our travels.

Be Careful With Your Purchases

I was saddened to see a lot of ivory for sale. Many of the items on display, and stores, explicitly say no photography.  I’m pretty sure it’s because of the ivory pieces. Although the ivory trade is illegal, it still occurs in South East Asia, with China and the US being the biggest buyers. The Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand closely follow. We also came across real weapons from antiquity. Yet another item I doubt would make it through customs.

Central Market KL
Central Market Juice
Central Market Coconuts

Gotta Love the Ice Floss

Upstairs, we found a food court, we we decided to take a rest. I was still a little hungry, so I got us Strawberry Ice Floss. We really like the Ice Floss here.  Upon finishing our food, we continued on in the upper floor and checked out a few more antique shops, and then made our way out of the market.

Central Market Ice Floss

Go Check it Out

We were basically done for the day, but Briana really wanted to get a good picture of the Petronas Towers. However, no matter how far we walked, it never seemed to get any closer. Ultimately, with it dark and our feet tired, we gave up, took a quick snapshot and called our Uber.

~K~

Night Time KL

6th largest mall in Malaysia

1 Utama Shopping Center

~B~

One piece of information I did not know about Malaysia before we went is that it’s home to many amazing malls! Asia and the middle east as a whole are populated with gigantic, clean, and modern malls which are filled with shops, restaurants, activities, and more (like grocery stores).

1Utama

I have always enjoyed malls. I remember going to the Mall of America a few times in my youth and I always found it both impressive and fun. I have now somehow been to 4 malls which are larger! 1 Utama is the winner so far, though, ranking at 6th largest in the world according to Wikipedia, and 4th according to CNN. At 5 million square feet, it’s the largest mall in Malaysia.

1 Utama is technically located in the city of Damansara. We visited a couple times when we came to Malaysia the first time and stayed in Petaling Jaya. Still, it’s not far from Kuala Lumpur so it would not be unreasonable to make a visit there from KL using Uber. There is an old wing and a new wing. Your driver will probably ask which you prefer to be dropped at, but if you are not going for any specific purpose it doesn’t matter because they are connected.

There are 6 floors (though it’s slightly more complicated than that) but if you have trouble navigating, there are a few directories. We even found a touchpad/interactive map in one area. They also have a website you can check out before visiting.

Touchpad 1 Utama

Some of the attractions at 1 Utama (and no we did not see all of these) include 2 movie theaters, 2 karaoke centers, a bowling alley, a batting cage, an indoor gym, a kid’s play land, an escape room, a rooftop garden, and a diving center. There is also an indoor rainforest.

Rainforest
Kyle in the rainforest

You’ll find many stores here that you might find in a mall in the US. There are all kinds of fashion/retail stores ranging from casual to upscale. There are bookstores, toy stores, makeup stores, etc.

Toys r Us in 1Utama
Makeup Store
For Americans

One great thing about Malaysia (particularly Kuala Lumpur) in general is the selection of food. It’s as diverse as the people there. You can find great food from all over the world here (though especially Asian food)! Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. Here are a few places we either tried or got photos of:

Korean Food. It was neat seeing this sign because we were like hey! we have been to Myeongdong (a neighborhood in Seoul), this must be Korean.

Myeongdong Restaurant

Thai Food (So good!). Pictured here: Mango sticky rice, Red ruby dessert, mango salad, and some kind of shrimp pad thai.

Yummy Food

Taiwanese Food. These are sweet potato plum fries!(Also so good!)

Taiwanese PlacePlum Fries

McDonalds

McDonalds

Ice Cream and Desserts

Spiral Ice Cream cones
Korean Desserts
Milkshake Bros
tuttifruiti

A piece of cheesecake we treated ourselves on our very first visit.

Cheesecake

We watched the people at “Sticky” make candy.

StickyPeople making dessert
Making Candy

And more!

Little Cravings
Menu

Places like Starbucks seem pretty common all over the world, but this mall even has some options you wouldn’t expect to find outside of the US such as TGI Fridays.

We also had to check out the grocery store even though we could not do much cooking at the time we visited.

Grocery StoreProduce Selection
SamplesIce Cream Selection

We also checked out an herbal remedy store and restaurant (we just checked out the store). I was just getting over a cold and was curious about their remedies:

Herbal Store
White Fungus

It was such fun just walking around and exploring the mall in general. It’s pretty kid-friendly.

Flowers
Spinny Things
KyleinspinnythingFor Children

The toilets are normal and clean as well.

Our biggest problem with 1Utama was that it was hard to get an Uber to leave. There is quite a bit of traffic in the area and many times they’d end up on the wrong side and then it’d be a while (if they didn’t cancel) before they’d make it to our location. I assume parking here is also a nightmare though.

Underpass Between the Old and NewWaiting for Uber

It’s busy for a reason, though!

1 Utama

Bukit Nanas bamboo forest leaves in the rain

Bukit Nanas Rainforest In Kuala Lumpur

Our second visit to Kuala Lumpur was far easier, and more enjoyable than our first time. It’s not that we didn’t enjoy KL our first time, but that we were in such a great and central location our second time. Our AirBNB was on the edge of Bukit Bintang, with a great view of the KL Tower, Petronas Towers, and Bukit Nanas.

Kuala Lumpur City View

Bukit Nanas had attracted our attention when we were first here, but we just weren’t able to make it there then. Our second time around though, it was literally just a two minute walk from the front door.

View of Bukit Nanas from AirBNB

A Rainforest In The Middle Of The City

Bukit Nanas, formerly Bukit Gombak, is the only virgin tropical rainforest remaining within the city of Kuala Lumpur. City planners decided to preserve the jungle and turn it into a public forest reserve. It is essentially a large and elongated hill, at the top of which resides KL Tower. At the main entry, you can find a visitor center with a mini museum.

First Stop, Canopy Walk

We made our way to visit it in the late afternoon (be careful, it closes at 5pm) and really enjoyed our time. Our main interest was the canopy walk, which is a sequence of bridges and platforms suspended in the jungle canopy which you can walk across the park on. It provides great views of the jungle below.

Briana at the Canopy Walk Entrance
Canopy Walk at Bukit Nanas
Kyle on the Canopy Walk

A storm was rolling in as we walked through, and as we descended the canopy walk into the jungle, the rain began to set in. We came prepared though with umbrellas and we enjoyed our times in a real rain forest. Trails run throughout the park, and are quite easy to navigate – some are paved and others are just dirt. The park is home to monkeys, monitor lizards, birds, and snakes. We saw none though, most likely due to the storm.

Jungle Trail in the rain
Bukit Nanas Trail Sign
Pulai Tree plaque

Trek Through The Rain

While we didn’t have the time to fully explore the park, there are also various gardens and pavilions. We did get the chance to walk through the bamboo forest though, which was enjoyable.

Bamboo Forest
Table at Bukit Nanas

Keep in mind though, that mosquitos are abundant in the park. I normally don’t find the need to wear insect repellant, and most of KL is well controlled. But if you want to take a hike here, you should consider having a bit of protection.

Also, rains in KL can be torrential at times, so while it may be fun to explore the jungle in the rain as we did, be prepared in case you hit a sudden flash flood.

Flower Petal
Briana Climbing the Road
Church outside Bukit Nanas

Bukit Nanas provides a great nature reprieve in the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur. If you find yourself in the area, it’s well worth checking out. To get there, just head to the KL Tower and you’ll see the signs.

~K~

Bukit Nanas Canopy Walk

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur in Photos

~B~
Some photos are from the surrounding areas such as Petaling Jaya. We were in Kuala Lumpur in January and then again in April/May of this year. The first batch of photos are all film (35mm) and the second batch is made up of photos from our digital camera and phones.

Film:

Our View
Rain in KL
Petronas Towers
Leaf with raindrops
Yellow flower
Kuala Lumpur from Bukit Bintang
In the National Mosque
Outside the Mosque
Wat Chetawan in KL
At the Caves
At the market
Graffiti in Kuala Lumpur
Worn building in KL
Police Building
Feeding Parrots
Peacock at the Bird Park
Pretty Peacock
Bird with Fish
Monkeys
View out the window
Red flower
Petaling Jaya Sunset

Phone and Digital:

Structures
More KL
Around the city
KL Sunset
KL Skyline
Stormy KLBlue Sky
Polaroid of KL towerFountainBatu cavesParkAt the ParkSmall_KL_MallFlowersCandles
WatStray cat

National Museum of Malaysia

A seemingly hidden gem within Kuala Lumpur is the National Museum of Malaysia (AKA Muzium Negara). For whatever reason, the museum is not as widely touted as other attractions within the city, but it is certainly worth a visit. Compared to the National Museum of Korea, it’s of course smaller, but that doesn’t mean that this museum didn’t still pack a punch.

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Getting In

We arrived via Uber shortly after noon, and made our way towards the museum through the grounds. But, we needed to use the bathroom first before anything, and we ran into the first case of having to pay for toilet use (rather disappointing considering this is the national museum) and being charged extra for toilet paper. The toilets were also not the cleanest facilities we’ve seen – no horror shows like we’d read to expect luckily though.

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Anything To Eat?

We were also quite hungry, without having eaten anything, we were pretty eager to get some food. So we decided to check out the museum cafeteria. They offered the standard fare we’ve come to expect here in Malaysia: a plate of rice where you pour various meats and curries on top.

While this would have been fine for me, Briana couldn’t have any of it because none of it looked vegetarian. So Briana attempted to order french fries from their menu – to which they seemed to have no clue what she was talking about. Pointing to their menu didn’t help, and the people operating the cafeteria seemed to have a rather poor grasp on English.

Ultimately, we decided to just walk out hungry because we couldn’t trust the place and get food we wanted. Oddly, we’ve noticed that many restaurants here in Malaysia will have a menu which has nothing to do with what they actually serve. It will seem as if only half of the menu is available, the other half is completely foreign to them, and then there is a secret menu that is not written or in any way advertised which is actually the food they serve – we just don’t get it.

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But, the food really isn’t the important part of this, nor the reason we came. It was for the museum. Tickets for non-locals are 5 RM, which really is a pretty good deal (~$1.25). After getting our tickets, we proceeded inside the building.

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Well Organized With Plenty To See

The museum is a pretty simple place, and easy to navigate. It is divided into 4 sections, 2 sections on each of it’s 2 floors. On the first floor you’ll find the Early History and Governments of Malay exhibits. On the second floor you’ll find the Colonial Era and Modern Day Malaysia exhibits.

The early history is very interesting, giving a brief lesson on the pre-historic aspects of the Malaysian peninsula and archipelago, and how people migrated during the last ice-age. Many ancient artifacts and skeletons were on display here.

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The governments exhibit dove into the more medieval era of Malaysia. Here you could see how the people turned themselves into a powerful kingdom. There were various weapons – most notably kris – and armors as well as textiles and even a throne. 

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At this point in our journey, hunger overcame us a little, so Briana broke into the backpack to finish off some mixed nuts. It wasn’t much, but it helped a little as we climbed the stairs to check out the second floor.

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Malaysia Has Seen Many Colonizers

Here in the colonial exhibit we could see how early European explorers had a heavy hand in shaping Malaysia. First the Portuguese, and then the British placed Malaysia under colonial rule. Exploitation of rubber and coconut plantations led to struggles to control Malaysia. As we’ve noticed in Asia, Japan also had a pretty brutal bout of command and conquer in the region.

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A Look At Modern Malaysia

The last section covered the modern history of Malaysia from it’s creation shortly after WWII until today. Here we were able to see how the current government came to be, how it functions, as well explanations to certain aspects of the country (such as the flag, multiculturalism, and it’s 13 states).

We also looked at some of the regional clothing over time.

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While we could have stayed a bit longer, hunger was really causing us to lose focus. So we proceeded on our way. We spent around 2 hours there, but if you really take your time you could extend a visit to 3 hours easily.

As well, there is a temporary exhibit in a hall outside of the main building. We did not visit it, although it looked like it was an exhibit of Arabic Ouds which really intrigued me. This area changes throughout the year.

Visit The National Museum of Malaysia

Open every day from 9AM to 6PM.

Closes on the first day of Eid and Eid al-Adha.

~K~

Our first AirBNB

~K~

Coming into Kuala Lumpur gave us our first experience using AirBNB. It’s a pretty nice app for the traveler. For those who aren’t aware – AirBNB allows for people to rent out a place for a predetermined amount of time, much along the lines of a Bed and Breakfast or hotel. The variety of accommodations you can get vary widely as does the price. Some places will rent out individual rooms, some will give you an entire apartment to yourself, some are little bungalows, some are actual hotel rooms, and others still are hostels. We like utilizing AirBNB because it allows us a far cheaper means of traveler as well as a more authentic stay. Sure it might be nice to stay in a Hilton or Marriot, but not as much as an authentic way to see the place you’re visiting. It is also far more expensive.

We had a tough time deciding upon which ABNB we wanted. It ultimately came down to three choices, one near the Batu caves, one close to my interview, and a third which I ultimately forget. Our first choice was the one near the caves, but they denied our request and stopped all ABNB services, so we decided on the one closest to my interview. The pictures showed a pretty nice pool complex so we were sold on that.

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Replica of the complex that we found.

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We arrived pretty late for our check-in, but our host Zeke was good and managed to get us. We had an issue with the fact that our phones weren’t working so we couldn’t get a hold of him, but he realized we must be waiting at the drop off point. He showed us to our private room, and a brief tour of the apartment and then we crashed.

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The next morning we took a tour around the place and got a nice feel for the place. The whole place was a condominium complex with 4 pools, a few tennis courts, a bunch of fountains, an outdoor grill and a connected area with food and shops. The complex was completely gated in and guarded at all times by a full security team – we definitely felt pretty safe. 

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We made good use of the pools during our time there.

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We also had a great sunset view every night.

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We also got to see a couple good storms.

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Other views from the apartment/condo.

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There were good views in other areas of the complex as well but we weren’t able to capture them very well.

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Some decorations were put up for the time leading up to the Lunar New Year as well.

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Our options for food within walking distance were a little sparse: a Dominos Pizza, a Chinese place, an Indian place, and a convenience store. We frequented the Dominos a few times when we needed bread, but we mostly visited the Indian place. They had pretty decent food, although it wasn’t consistent, the same meal could inexplicably change every day as well as the price, and their understanding of English seemed to change every day as well. I was fine with everything I got there, but Briana had issues considering they only sometimes seemed to understand the word Vegetarian. The convenience store was decent for us, we managed to get some fruit, ice cream, and coffee. We were able to get some great food whenever we would venture out further though, such as to the mall. 

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Unfortunately, one of the rules we had for the AirBNB was no cooking, and this presented quite a problem, once we realized that we really didn’t have much options in terms of food. Over three weeks, we got quite tired of going out and buying every meal. There was another place nearby, but it required walking down a very dangerous road for food that was more expensive and not much better. Zeke allowed us to bake potatoes a few times, but once his mother came back she got quite upset and wouldn’t let us cook anything anymore. So we had a few hungry nights.

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Our host Zeke was very nice and hospitable to us. He was always eager to talk with us and discuss life over beer. He also took me out to get some authentic Malaysian food – Bak Kut Teh. All in all, our experience was good. We certainly would have liked to have use of the kitchen and have complete privacy, but we knew what we were getting. We also learned a lot getting to talk with Zeke, since he was a local. I spent many nights talking to him for hours. We would have never learned the things we did had we not stayed with someone.

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Wat Chetawan (Kuala Lumpur)

A great thing about Malaysia is the multicultural aspect of the country. We had done research on places to go and found a Buddhist temple in the Thai style – Wat Chetawan, so we decided to make our way there. As was our ritual for Kuala Lumpur, we got an Uber and then proceeded on our way.

It’s located at 9-7, Jalan Gasing, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Getting to Wat Chetawan

The temple itself was about fifteen minutes from our AirBNB, it would have been a bit shorter, but traffic was pretty bad. We arrived to the compound, and our driver dropped us off down in what appeared to be a little alley way.

First a Few Shrines

The compound was not quite as grand as some of the temples we’d gone to in Korea, but I wouldn’t call it small. It was constructed in 1962 and received a large donation from the King of Thailand. We initially came upon a building to the right. 

There was a shrine room with some carvings and wax molds of monks that we took a look inside. There were also some fortune telling devices but we did not try them out.

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Off to the left was a compound for the monks to live in, it looked quite nice, but was closed off to visitors so we didn’t get to see inside.

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The Primary Wat

Straight ahead, though, was the central building which was what attracted us to see the temple in the first place. It consisted of a large marble staircase, leading to a grand open air room. The outside of this building was intricately decorated, and the inside was lined with dozens of gilded buddhas, burning incense, and offering altars.

A single monk sat within, to whom devotees would go up to pray and give offerings to. The temple itself was quiet and calm, with a light breeze occasionally causing a small bell to ring up above.

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There’s Even a Gift Shop

We proceeded out of the temple and noticed a gift shop. We went into it, but found it to be very crowded. The objects were really quite interesting, but were out of reach for our budget, so we made our way back out to explore the rest of the compound.

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Pay Your Respects at the Altar

On the other side of the central building was a open altar, to which many devotees were praying to. They would take incense sticks, and bring them to their forehead. They’d then mutter their prayers while bowing repeatedly before placing the sticks in an ash pot and then ringing a gong.

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The ritual was very interesting to see. At first we weren’t sure how appropriate it was for us to be in the area with cameras – but once we saw a monk taking selfies with his (better than ours) smart phone, we decided we were probably fine.

Proceeding even further, we walked between two giant dragons that lined a wall and entered another part of the compound to which there were two more buildings.

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Many, Many Buddhas

The first was a large and wide, open-aired building containing many statues of various bodhisattvas. They were various stages of being gilded with gold leaf. While not clear, I think people come and donate gold leaf. Slowly, devotees add to the statues until they are covered in solid gold.

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The second building in the area, was a solid marble building that contained a large statues of buddha. Within the building were dozens of insets which contained smaller statues of the same buddha. Each of the statues was donated by someone and was deemed to bring good fortune to the family that donated it.

There was some construction taking place on a new shrine. But it wasn’t that close to being finished. All we could really tell is that it was going to be tall.

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Having finished the compound, we slowly made our way back towards the entrance. While it was small, we still managed to get a good hour’s worth of exploring. We highly recommend checking out the temple and seeing for yourself.

~K~

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