Thursday, March 18, 2010

Climbing 272 steps of the Batu Caves and Surviving Their Aggressive Monkeys

Batu Cave's Hindu diety Lord Murugan, standing at 140 ft (42.7 meters) of concrete, locasted 13 kilometers north of KL. The statue is a sight to behold!

It was a very early start of the morning. Sleep was ever so light and I kept waking in the middle of the night, worrying I'd miss my flight. I did not. My taxi drove in front of my guesthouse 15 minutes early. Penang at 5:30AM is poetry, cool gentle breeze from the ocean, the streets are bathed with the romantic glow of the street lights. Not a soul stirred. My taxi slid through sights and my heart was light, head was giddy from the short sleep.
Penang International Airport looked welcoming. It's a well planned airport with a very relaxed atmosphere. You check in at the extreme right then enter the pre-departure area at the extreme left side of the building. The flight took 50 minutes and I was back in KL. The bus back to the city was comfortable and cool, I dozed off part of the way.
Upon reaching Puduraya Terminal, I took my 8kg luggage to the Left Luggage at the back of the building. They call it Luggage Centre here. Compared to the same service in LCCT, my "large bag" just cost me 2 ringgit. A big discrepancy from LCCT's rate of 30 ringgit - get 6 days and you have 1 day free, but that would amount to a ridiculous 180 ringgit! Oh dear!
I wanted to visit a religious cave temple first before checking into a hotel since it was relatively early, and check in is officially 12PM. That worked well. I found the Intrakota Bus 11A at the Central Market Annexe Terminal - located just in front of Bangkok Bank and Le Village, along Jalan Tun HS Lee, a block from Central Market! Fare was 2.50 ringgit and should have taken 30 minutes. Unfortunately, like typical Malaysian fashion, times stretches several times over. This one took more than an hour to get to Batu Cave.

Batu Caves - The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. Rising almost 100 m above the ground, Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m-high ceiling, and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors have to climb a steep flight of 272 steps.At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave.

I did climb 272 steps of very steep flight of stairs. Along the way, i was avoiding annoying monkeys who kept taking forcibly taking plastic bags that people are carrying. This was scaring me a bit. I didn't want my camera snatched by these wild animals.

The airy, spacious cave was decked with Hindu deities and partially bathed with color spotlights, and the view of the town down below is spectacular.

To get back to KL, I had to cross the street, then cross again at the other side (it is a conglomeration of criscrossing streets). I was instructed by a helpful soul to look for Bus 11A or U6. A Brazilian guy joined me, and it was fun discussing and comparing our trips. He told me that once he learned the English language, he started to travel. He has a long way to go - most of Asia, including India, before he flies home to Brazil.

We said our goodbyes and i secured my luggage back. After getting a room near Puduraya, I went to my favorite Berjaya Times Square to cool down. The sun had been harsh all day and my skin was starting to burn into a brown toast, and I haven't even started Sri Lanka yet. There was a Hong Kong movie that looked interesting - "Hot Summer Day" - a series of little stories by a cast of interesting characters involving, among others, a chef, a lovestruck teenager, a chauffeur who misleads his textmate that he owns his Ferrari, One surprise is a cameo by Maggie Cheung! I heard people gasp as Maggie is shown crying at a bar. Back in the Manila, only a few know of Maggie. Not in KL where a good percentage of the population is Chinese!

This is the Eye in the Sky.


Trotter said...

Hi Eye! 272 steps; you must be in good shape; furthermore with wild monkeys around... ;)

Blogtrotter 2 has moved to the Cayman Islands. Enjoy and have a great weekend!!

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, Trotter. 272 steps - i knew then how out of shape I was. LOL