Alongside my usual breakfast selection I couldn’t resist a bowl of bread and butter pudding and custard, a little heavy for so early in the day but delicious nonetheless. Weighed down with our puddings we took the monorail to KL Sentral to transfer onto a KTM Komuter train to Batu Caves located to the north of Kuala Lumpur. The journey time from KL Sentral to Batu Caves is 35 minutes and costs only RM 2.30 (43p). The 9.36 a.m. was indicated on the board and as a train was sitting on that platform we naturally climbed on board and sat down. There were no announcements but we became suspicious when the train departed five minutes ahead of schedule. We soon realised that we had inadvertently boarded the earlier train to depart from that platform which was delayed but had disappeared from the board.
There was nothing else to do but get off at the next station and wait 30 minutes for a train back to KL Sentral and to then finally board a Batu Caves train one hour later than intended. Other passengers had made the same mistake so do take care if travelling by train from Kuala Lumpur as services do not appear to be tracked.
From Batu Caves station it was just a five minute walk to the holy site of the Hindu temple and shrine set on a limestone outcrop. Stalls line the route stacked high with gaudy trinkets and food. Monkeys are everywhere, some of them carrying their babies and others eating food given to them by visitors. Although few people seemed to have arrived by train, there were coach loads of tourists making the area very crowded.
The cave is one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside of India and is dedicated to Lord Murugan with a huge 140ft (42.7m) statue of the Hindu God dominating the entrance to the cave.
There is no charge to clamber up the 272 brightly painted steep steps to the cave entrance but a strict dress code is in force for females who must have their knees covered. Ladies arriving wearing inappropriate clothing were being ushered to a kiosk where they needed to hire a long scarf to tie around their waists. A nominal charge of RM 5 (93p) was charged for this including a RM 2 (42p) refundable deposit.
Long-tailed macaque monkeys sit on handrails and steps ready to pounce on unsuspecting people and are quick to steal sunglasses, scarves, bottles of water and in fact anything they can get their hands on, so visitors need to hold on tight to their belongings.
It was very hot climbing the long staircase and on reaching the top we entered the largest of the caves, known as the temple or cathedral cave with its very high ceiling. Several smaller caves lead off from the main shrine and after exploring them we made our way back down the steps dodging the monkeys who were still scampering around us.
Back at ground level we viewed the 15m (50ft) statue of Hanuman which stands at the entrance to a smaller cave located on the left, nearer to the railway station. Visiting Batu Caves is certainly an experience but a very touristy one, so although I would recommend going there once, it’s not somewhere I would rush back to.
Leaving the hordes of tourists behind, we took a train back to the city centre alighting at the beautiful old Kuala Lumpur station which is still in use today. From there, we crossed the road via an underpass in order to visit the nearby Islamic Arts Museum which has a standard entrance admission of RM 14 (£2.60).
This absolutely beautiful building features permanent displays over two floors and was so peaceful after the crowded scenes of Batu Caves. We spent the majority of our time in the Architecture Gallery as this contained a collection of scale models conveying the splendour of the Islamic world’s most significant buildings from the Taj Mahal to lesser known but equally beautiful mosques. We found this so interesting as we had enjoyed visiting Doha’s Grand Mosque at the start of our trip.
Other galleries contained examples of Islamic textiles, jewellery, armour, metal, wood and ceramics. From the upper floor there was a tinted window overlooking the roof from where we were able to view the museum’s elaborate dome. The museum has an attractive restaurant where afternoon tea is served on starched tablecloths at only RM 20 (£3.72). All of the artefacts on display in the museum are exquisite and I highly recommend a visit during a stay in Kuala Lumpur as it is easy to get to being near the Perdana Gardens and the old Kuala Lumpur railway station.
We then returned to the hotel on the free GO KL bus service which connected to the monorail at KL Sentral and after a short rest and some tea and biscuits we were suitably revived and ready to venture out once again. This time we weren’t planning on going very far as the KL Menara Tower was located very near our hotel.
The KL Tower is the 7th tallest telecommunications tower in the world and the tallest in South East Asia standing at 421m high. There is an observation deck and revolving restaurant at 300m but we just viewed the tower from ground level. The main reason for our visit was to take a walk in the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve (also referred to as the KL Forest Eco Park), a tropical rainforest reserve covering 9.3 hectares and one of the oldest in Malaysia.
Several trails run through the park with a tree top canopy walkway starting from near the car park entrance. It was approaching 5.00 p.m. as we strolled along the raised walkways, the sounds of crickets deafening our ears. The walkway is constructed in several sections with connecting towers allowing access from numerous points. It provides good views over the forest floor and also of the cityscape surrounding it. Just as we were nearing the end of the trail it started to rain and we needed to make use of our umbrellas for the first time in the holiday.
As on previous evenings, we ate dinner along the Jalan Alor food street staring two dishes and a large bottle of Tiger beer, total cost approximately RM 100 (£18.60).
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