I think my secret is out… I am a anxious traveler. Maybe it wasn’t that much of a secret, but Ray now thinks I have mental issues and is fearful for my future mental health. I will admit that I get pretty anxious on travel days. I like to have a plan and know what I am doing and where I am going and what time I need to be there. And I like to be early! It’s really hard to meet all of those criteria on this trip. Luckily for me, my family puts up with me and keeps trudging forward and everything seems to be working out just fine.
Even with my anxious tendencies, we made it out of Singapore and into Malaysia with ease. We took a seven-hour train ride to Kuala Lumpur and only encountered a slight hitch when we arrived. Turns out it was Malaysia Day in Kuala Lumpur and we were not able to take a taxi to our hotel due to either heavy rain or riots; we couldn’t understand what the driver said. Instead, we were pointed to the monorail, and a quick call to the hotel let us know which station to get off at. The KL Sentral train station was enormous and amazing. It is the hub for all major train lines, the intercity train line, and monorail line all converging in a gigantic mall. It was quite the hub of activity. As it turns out, there were riots and the crowds ended up getting shot with chemical-laced water cannons by police. And strangely enough, that does not give me any anxiety!
As a side note, I also had my first experience with a “squatty potty” at the terminal. I really had to go after that long train ride. I also felt bad about going on the train since I learned that it goes straight from the toilet right onto the tracks; you can even see the ground whizzing by when you flush! And thank goodness I had some tissue in my purse as that is something that is not supplied in most bathrooms, although there is a bidet in just about every bathroom I’ve been in, even the hotels. I’ll update you if anyone decides to give it a try and share their thoughts.
The hotel was a lot nicer than the one we had stayed at in Singapore (Lisa did the booking this time) and we even had a view of the Petronas Towers out our window, although it was still quite smoky. Ray and I ended the night with a beer at the rooftop cafe of our hotel listening to the Islamic call to prayer via loudspeaker from a nearby mosque, a first for both of us. I will have more to say on this subject at some point in the future, but I need some more time to gather my thoughts and do some research.
The next morning we set out to visit Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine north of KL. We had not told the kids there would be monkeys, so that was a fun surprise for them. The macaques were everywhere and although there are warnings everywhere not to feed them, that’s exactly what a lot of people where doing. I’m pretty sure Ray would have picked one up if he could have gotten close enough.
We walked the 272 stairs to the shrine at the top, which itself was not that impressive. This was a free exhibit, but I was still surprised at how run down and dirty and full of litter it was. What was impressive though, was the enormity of the cave. Also, about 3/4 of the way up, there is a small side route that is run by a conservation organization. This paid tour of “Dark Cave” was a much better experience. It was interesting to learn more about the geology of the area and about the creatures that are endemic to only this one cave system on this one hill. I would still recommend visiting the site, but add that Dark Cave should not be missed.
Based on Lonely Planet guide book recommendations, we followed Batu Caves with a trip to the Negara Zoo, where we were expecting to get to feed giraffes and elephants. Even though our guide book was published in 2014, the zoo information was far outdated and we ended up walking through a run down zoo and did not get to feed anything except the mosquitoes! There was a trained animal show that the kids enjoyed.
We ended the day with dinner at the open air Chinese market right outside our hotel. Walking through the market Ty had his first superstar moment. We were walking by a clothing stall and a girl called out, “Boy, boy, I want take one picture with you. Can I take one picture with you?” Ty agreed and she had her friend take the photo. They both giggled and said he looked like Justin Bieber. He was a bit embarrassed, but flattered as much as a teenage boy can be.
The next day we visited the Islamic Arts Museum. We had hoped to learn more about the Islamic faith and background like we did at the Buddha Tooth Museum, but this really was more of an art museum. There were a lot of weapons that intrigued RJ and there was a tile display that I found fascinating (see pictures below). The collection of artifacts was definitely impressive, but we didn’t come away with any background on the Islamic culture.
We left the museum and walked through town to the songs of the call to prayer over the loud speakers (the museum was right next to the National Islamic Mosque) and made our way to the planetarium. There wasn’t a whole lot going on there, so we walked on through an orchid and hibiscus garden to a butterfly garden. We ended the day with a shopping trip at the KL Sentral Mall. I had only packed a couple shirts with sleeves and, since the dress code was more conservative in Malaysia, I needed to pick up a couple more. Ray took the boys to the lower floor of the mall (there are six) to play foosball and claimed that he did poorly because the table was backwards.
We ended our day and our time in KL on the rooftop of our hotel for dinner. While we were eating, loud drumming began in the streets and then fireworks started going off at eye level. This was all in celebration of Indian Day. That is not technically what it is called, but that is what the waiter told me so that I would understand; the actual term was something much more exotic sounding.
The only thing I have been really disappointed in so far is the fact that it is so hazy in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Ray and I both thought a trip to the top of the Maria Bay Sands or the Petronas Towers would be fun and give us all a chance to look out on the cities. But, with all the haze there really was no point in doing so and I don’t think there will be a next time :’-(
Our trip to KL was short, but enjoyable. From catching the train to getting to the hotel to getting out and exploring the city… everything worked out just fine and there was really no reason to be anxious. From here on out, I am going to try to just go with the flow as that seems to be working out for everyone. Until then, here are a few more pictures from around Kuala Lumpur…
Monkeying around at Batu Caves.
Ray sporting his hard hat through Dark Cave.
The tile that appears to be somewhat random in nature is explained through math.
Photo ops at the Islamic Arts Museum.
I have a million pictures of flowers.
Here’s another one.
The towers at night from the rooftop cafe.
More monkeys. Not sure I want to be drinking that water.
The Dailey family waiting for a train at the old train station in KL.