We woke at 2:30AM Tuesday morning, ate jackfruit, and twiddled our thumbs until it was time to catch the first commuter train from Kuala Lumpur Station to the Batu Caves.
At 4:30AM, the streets were dark and empty except for taxis, delivery vehicles, and dump trucks.
We walked along Jalan Pudu, past construction walls, empty hospitals, and closed storefronts. Idle youth on scooters and the mentally ill lurked in the shadows of Jalan Petaling, and we got out of it hastily. It was the first time in a while that I had felt uncomfortable wandering in a foreign country.
We arrived at the station at 5:30AM. The station was open and unsecured: the turnstiles were disabled, and there were no staff. Unfortunately, the men’s room was padlocked.
Only a handful of people were waiting on the platform as the trains hadn’t started running yet.
Once the attendant arrived, we purchased our cheap, unofficial looking tickets and waited for the first train north.
Food and propaganda.
A mostly empty Jalan Petaling.
Kuala Lumpur Station.
The empty platform.
The Batu Caves are 8 miles north of the city in the Gombak district. The limestone formations are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India and are dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam. While the place felt ancient, most of the construction is less than two hundred years old.
Since it was still early, there were few visitors. In fact, there were as many long tail monkeys as there were people. Only a scary amount of pooping pigeons at the base of the stairs formed a crowd. The wild pigeons flying overhead seemed to use the dripping limestone cliffs as their natural habitat.
Head to toe.
Man and god.
Altar and limestone peaks.
A Hitcockian amount of pigeons.
These pigeons are up to something.
A 42.7 meter (140 ft) high statue of Lord Murugan.
Hunk on the stairs.
The main chamber. Beautiful, cool air, and echoing of rooster crows.
Inside the massive main chamber, the air was cool and still. Roosters pecked and crowed. At an interior altar, we stopped to listen to a Hindu ceremony involving mystical and gut-stirring music. I got my photo taken with a family from another district and a man visiting from Indonesia.
A view of the sky.
Monkey drinking milk.
We took the train back to KL station and walked back to our hotel in time to catch the end of free breakfast. After a little rest, we went back to the mall area to try out the food in the Lot 10 Hutong food court. The basement eating area was clean, colorful and chaotic. After scoping it out, J ordered roast duck and noodles and I got a spicy bowl of soup. For dessert: shaved ice with lichee.
Too tired to keep walking but not ready to head to the hotel, we crossed the street to a bakery and got some pastries and coffee. The large upstairs window offered a good view of the pedestrian, road, and monorail traffic.
Newspaper sorting area.
Concrete sidewalk breast.
A water machine.
A variety of fortified front yards.
There was a man inside this sad room.
Revving at the starting line.
A food vendor in the Lot 10 basement.
My spicy soup with horse intestines.
Woman preparing our shaved ice desserts.
Mango and strawberry with lichee.
Pastry filled with kaya, a Malaysia version of coconut butter.
Rested, we sweated in the midday sun while walking eastward towards The Royal Selangor Golf Club. Once we reached the edge of the course, we circled back a block north to try to find the base of a gaudy and massive tower we had seen earlier.
The tower belonged to the Royale Chulan Hotel, but the adjacent Kompkleks Budaya Kraf was of the same brutalist Asian architecture. We wandered through a textiles show as it was getting set up in the convention center. People looked at us with confusion but never asked us to leave.
I rested on a couch in the air-conditioned hotel lobby while J took an elevator to get a higher view. She was unsuccessful.
The tower. Seriously, WTF kind of architecture is this?
I thought I was inside.
A massive property guarded by a very bored man at a desk.
Some kind of lecture.
Food holding robot.
Gutter water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
Small shrine outside a construction site.
They had legs up to here.
Back at the hotel around 5:30PM, we shocked our bodies by air-conditioning, then a hot shower. We had planned on taking a quick nap before finding dinner, but fell asleep around 7PM and didn’t wake until Wednesday.