A little bit of writing, a little bit of knitting...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One Last Day in KL

It was late on Monday night when we arrived back at our hotel in KL. We returned to the hotel we'd stayed in the week before -- mostly because it meant that we could keep some of our extra baggage stored there while we were on the island, but also because it was a pretty nice place. Or so we thought.

Knowing it was our very last day in KL, we got up early, planning to squeeze in as much as possible. Paul had asked me what I wanted to do on Tuesday, and my response was "Everything." And we came pretty close. We got up early -- Paul getting up first, as usual, since I'm not a morning person. When he woke me up, he had bad news.

"I think there's something wrong with the shower. It's like a swamp in the bathroom."

And he wasn't kidding. Not only had two of the three bathroom lights burnt out. Not only was the toilet not really flushing all the time. But when we showered, the whole bathroom flooded, leaving an inch or two of water on the floor. It was not pretty. It was especially unpleasant because we'd gotten a late checkout time -- so we could come back after our morning adventures and take a shower before heading out for the afternoon. But that meant more showers -- and more swampy bathrooms. So before we left for the morning, we warned the girl at the front desk, who promised to have it taken care of for us. And then we left on our morning adventure.

One of the things we still wanted to do was visit the Batu Caves. The caves were discovered by an American scientist around 100 years ago. How no one had seen these things before is beyond me. They're located not all that far north of the city -- and they're huge. Not only are they a cool attraction on their own, but the caves are now home to huge Hindu shrines as well, which I found to be really intriguing.

To get to the caves, we called a cab driver who had given Paul his card after driving Paul to work one morning. His name was Jeff. When he picked us up, we informed Jeff that we had two hours -- and then we needed to be back at the hotel. For Jeff, that was no problem. Not only would he take us to the caves, but he'd take us to see some other stuff, too. And he wasn't kidding.

We started out at a batik factory, where we learned how artists make hand-painted batiks.

Next, we stopped at the king's palace. Malaysia has nine sultans, and every five years, the sultans get together and decide which of them is going to be the next king. Since Malaysia also has a Prime Minister, the king's job, according to Jeff, is pretty much to eat and sleep. He also gets to live in a nice house. Not a bad job, if you ask me.

Jeff insisted on taking all kinds of pictures of us at the palace. It really made me wish I'd worn something other than my baggy old shorts -- but I'd planned on climbing around the caves, not having my picture taken at the palace. But Jeff insisted, and who was I to say no to Jeff?

After that, Jeff also took us past the mosque and some new government buildings before bringing us to the caves. Here we are at the entrance. Note the 272 steps behind us, which is what you have to climb just to get to the entrance of the caves (keeping in mind, of course, that it's about 90 degrees and very, very humid). The statue behind us, incidentally, is approximately 140 feet tall. It's amazing.

The climb to the entrance was exhausting, but it was well worth it. Blogger would never in a million years let me post all the pictures that I'd like to, but here's one from the inside of the cave:

One of the main attractions of the cave -- besides the fact that it's cool...and it's a huge Hindu landmark -- is the monkeys. There are monkeys everywhere -- all, of course, taking full advantage of the naive tourists and their supply of munchies. Paul took a million pictures of the daring little guys -- more, in fact, than he took of anything else. I, on the other hand, was pretty busy just trying to make it to the top of the steps without dying. I paused in my climbing once, only to have a monkey come flying right past me -- maybe a foot in front of my face -- and land on a post next to me. I was so excited that I called to Paul, "HEY! Look at the monkey!" So Paul snapped a picture of a very excited me and a pretty indifferent monkey.

After wandering around for a while, we met Jeff back at the car, and he drove us back to the hotel, where he proceeded to charge us an arm and a leg for our journey. According to Jeff, the standard cab-driver hourly rate doesn't apply when you're going to the Batu Caves. He forced Paul to pay him RM140, or about $40. Sure, that's not really that bad for a two-hour cab ride, but it's highway robbery when it comes to a cab in KL. Paul was SO MAD -- especially since we'd pretty much budgeted the rest of our day, and that meant we'd need to make another trip to the ATM -- but we did learn our lesson. Next time, we'll know to get the full price up front. Assume nothing with these guys. And if you happen to come across a cab driver named Jeff in KL, beware. He only *looks* sweet and innocent.

Assured by the girl at the front desk that our shower was fixed, we returned to the room, only to find that the shower wasn't *really* fixed. But I didn't care. I was way too hot and sweaty to care. I showered quickly and threw on some fresh clothes before packing up our bags. We left out an extra change of clothes for the flight home, and then we brought everything down to the lobby, where we checked out and left our luggage in the able hands of the concierge. Then we headed for the monorail.

After all, we had more shopping to do. First, we made a trip back to the electronics mall, where we needed to pick up a video game for my niece and nephew. Then we went to the *other* mall, so I could find a wacky cell phone case. I also found another yarn store -- one that seemed way friendlier than the other one we'd stopped by, but we didn't really have time to waste. It was then that it started pouring. Of course, that shouldn't have surprised us, but we really weren't thinking -- and we'd already packed the umbrella away. So we decided to get on the monorail and head for Times Square, a huge mall-type place that has millions of stores (including a Borders -- I wonder if I could have used my rewards card there...), a hotel, apartments, and an amusement park called Cosmo's World, complete with a roller coaster.

Then, once the rain calmed down a bit, we got in another cab and returned to Chinatown, for a little more last-minute shopping.

While we were there, we got to watch the police make their way through, causing mass hysteria among all those whose goods aren't necessarily of the legal variety. We got to watch all kinds of guys with racks of faux Nikes on their backs, making a run for it.

Then we hopped back on the monorail and walked from the station, past our hotel, back to the KLCC, where, exhausted from all the running around, we crashed at KFC for dinner. We wandered around the mall for a while before making our way back to the hotel for a pre-flight cocktail. After all, though it was after 9 at night, our day wasn't over. In fact, it was only just beginning.

Our trip to KL, however, had come to an end.


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