Our final day in Kuala Lumpur began with a taxi ride to Batu Caves. A very impressive ‘gold’ statue (15m tall – supposedly the tallest such statue in the world) guards the caves and the temples within. The climb up 272 very steep steps was definitely made easier by the fact that they are in shade for the whole morning, and also because the diversion of the macaques trying to steal water bottles is highly amusing, that one isn’t even affected by the many steps. The view, however, is another thing – almost brings on a bit of vertigo.
Inside the cavern, the sheer size takes you by surprise – it’s 100m high and about 80m long, but actually feels much larger and would hold thousands of people. The walk down was equally entertaining, thanks to the antics of the monkeys – especially the teenagers, who enjoy a bit of argy-bargy (made all the more exciting when it takes place atop a globe-like light on a 5m high pole!). A particular delight was a mother and baby posing serenely for the camera.
We caught the LRT (light rail transport) to the Islamic Arts Museum, near the old train station of Kuala Lumpur – a truly gorgeous piece of architecture that seems far too regal a grand dame to house a train station! The Islamic Arts Museum was home to some stunningly beautiful and intricately detailed jewellery, textiles, ceramics and fine ‘homewares,’ as well as having a diorama room with models of many of the important mosques throughout the world; the one of Mecca was meticulously crafted. We attempted to go to the museum’s restaurant for a set lunch, but despite waiting 5 minutes, no one came to seat us, so we left to find somewhere more eager for our patronage.
Madam Kwan’s at Pavilion won that lucky dip – traditional Malaysia at reasonable prices. Although it did take 3 attempts to get a cab – the first 2 were trying to do the haggle thing, rather than use their metres (which is a common tourist trap), but we said ‘no’ and kept walking. It only took another 10 metres before finding a very polite and honest taxi driver who wanted to play by the rules (there is a big difference between 30 ringgit and 10, cheeky buggers!).
Dinner that night was basically us helping Sam to get rid of the perishables from the fridge – so salads, cheese and wine all round! (Not that an unopened bottle of Marlborough pinot noir is really a ‘perishable,’ but we needed SOMETHING to have with the cheese, we’re not Neanderthals!).