"Batu Cave Batu Cave Batu Cave!"

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January 28th 2008
Published: February 2nd 2008
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Just catching up on stuff since our last internet connection died on us after typing a long entry...

January 28th:
Woke up early to go to the Petronas Twin Towers but got there and found out they are not open for viewing on Mondays. We walked around the attached mall a little bit and took advantage of their "premium" bathrooms at a price of RM2 to get in. It was spectacular! They even provided toilet paper and paper towels! Next we took a stroll through the lovely park and playground behind the Twin Towers building. They had some really cool play equipment there but when we got on the teeter toter, a cop blew her whistle at us and signaled for us to get off. I personally think she was bored and just wanted something to do, but she blew her whistle at some other tourists too who apparently weren't following the rules. After that we walked around the shopping district - the bonus part of this was that we were able to strategically add some much needed A/C time in our walk by going through the malls to get to places. Basically we were killing some time until a cultural show that was happening at the tourist center...it was worth the wait and the measley RM5 (about 1.75 US) to get in...Dancing, singing and costumes representing all the different cultures present in Malaysia and we even got to participate in the show! After one of the dances showcasing how they used to hunt with blow darts, they asked for participants from the audience and Trevor was chosen. The challenge was to hit a balloon floating above a beautiful dancer (the key being not to hit the girl) from about 50 feet away. He huffed and puffed and took a shot. On the second try, he got the balloon, the girl lived, and Trevor won a CD! We also both got up on stage at the end and learned some of the moves from the dancers. This was a lot of fun but exhausting due to the heat.

We then headed over to the KL Tower, the fourth tallest communications tower in the world, standing 421 meters. Since it was getting close to dinner time we thought it would be fun to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner in the revolving restaurant up above the observation deck - however, we were a bit late on reservations. They were booked up through February! Instead we went up to the viewing deck and enjoyed great 360 degree views of the entire city. Wanting to see it after dark as well, we ended up killing about 2 hours walking around the deck, eating treats like a cup of corn and some ice cream cones, listening to the handy audio commentary that they give you for free, and reading every piece of information we could find in the place. Finally it got dark and it was a whole new scene to look at - worth the wait!

January 29th:
We got up early (again) and rushed over to the twin towers to be sure to get tickets (they give out free tickets but only so many each day). When we arrived, we found an already long line, but luckily we weren't too late. However, by the time we got to the counter, they were giving out tickets for the late afternoon times, which meant 3:45 for us. This worked out pretty well as we had also planned on visiting the Batu Caves that day and had plenty of time to do that before coming back to do our tower viewing. We made our way over to catch the bus, which was easy to find because of the guy yelling "Batu Cave Batu Cave Batu Cave" really fast over and over. Not only was this rather funny to listen to, but also very helpful since there wasn't really an obvious bus stop, just a bunch of buses randomly parked all over the place. On the ride out, at every stop, he would chant his Batu Cave thing over and over - maybe you had to be there, but we found this hilarious (try to imagine it really really fast with a strong accent). The significance of the Batu Caves is that this is where the Hindu Thaipusam festival culminates each year (see our blog from Singapore describing this festival). It is this huge cave with about 280 or so steps leading up to it and all around (both inside and outside of the caves) are statues of the various deities where people can make offerings. In front of the cave was a gigantic gold statue (taller than the set of steps) (see picture). Thaipusam had just recently happened, which meant that Batu caves was not so crowded with people, but covered in trash from all the festivities, so while it was really cool, it was also very smelly and gross. On the up side, they did seem to be working on cleaning it up, but I can't imagine what it was like with hordes and hordes of people marching up these steps (some of which were quite narrow) with their huge ornamental contraptions attached to them via piercings. We had heard from someone who was there during all the madness and they said the guys would have to stop and rest occassionally while their families fed them water (keep in mind many of them had large piercings through their tongues and/or cheeks. Anyway, we looked at going into the "dark caves" next to the main cave, but decided there wasn't that much to see that would be worth the RM30 they were charging. Before leaving the area, we visited a hindu temple nearby that was pretty interesting with lots of artwork decorating it. At this point, the stench of the place was getting to us and we headed back. On the way, we hopped off the bus early to check out a different part of town and find something to eat. We saw Pizza Hut and while this is normally not that appealing, it sounded really good at the time. This was no ordinary pizza hut though. They had a couple mexican fiesta specials, lots of options with chicken and rice, and most of the meals came with chicken soup. After our soup and pizza, we headed toward the twin towers.

Before going up in the towers, they have you wait in this area with lots of information about the towers, how they were made, and some brain teaser puzzles (which Trevor was better at than me), then they give you very stylish 3-D glasses and take you to an auditorium where they show a 3-D film about the towers, which is really a fancy commercial for the national petroleum company, Petronas. Sadly we had to return our 3-D glasses and finally we went up to the skybridge which connects the two towers on the 40th floor, only about half way up the building. These towers are one of the tallest twin towers in the world (maybe the 2nd) and they are really an engineering marvel. The view of the city wasn't as great as in the KL tower but it was still pretty cool to get the close up view of the towers themselves. As we were about to leave the skybridge, the guide asked where we were from and apparently we were the first people he'd ever met from Alaska so he had someone take a picture of us with him - he was very excited and couldn't stop talking about his friend who was going to go to Alaska (this lasted the whole elevator ride back down until we left).

As we were about to leave, a massive rain shower came out of nowhere. It was so heaving, nobody was going out into the street, they were all just waiting it out. Fortunately, we discovered that there was an underground connection to the nearest subway station so we were able to escape, then we just bolted from covered spot to covered spot between the subway station and our hotel. After drying off a bit, we got dinner and did some shopping to get some essentials to prepare for our upcoming jungle adventure. We purposely planned our shopping route to take advantage of a foot massage place we'd seen a couple days earlier...aaaahhh so nice! Then we braved the "jungle" of Chinatown. The street hawkers here were much more aggressive and persistent than in the Chinatowns of other cities we'd been in. It was difficult to walk between them and we almost gave up and turned around within the first 20 feet because it was so overwhelming. But we stuck with it and Trev got some great deals on a couple shirts. Then we had to turn around and go through it all again to get out!


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