Malaysia Madness: There and Back Again
(Continued from Malaysia Madness: An Unexpected Journey)
The next morning, we switched hotels. Three rooms in two nights did not leave us with a great impression of the hotel, and the fact that another guest was complaining about bed bugs did not help matters. We easily found a nicer, cheaper hotel within walking distance from where we were staying. The other hotel looked newer and had friendlier staff. They even cleaned our room every day – if we asked them to.
We were eager to visit the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. With map in hand, we headed out on foot, but as soon as the sun made its presence known, we used the magic word: “Taxi!” What makes KL taxi cabs unique is that although they have meters, they aren’t ever used. You have to negotiate the fee with the cab driver before you embark.
On our way to the Bird Park, we spotted the Butterfly Park. Like the erratic insects we were now interested in, we quickly changed course. Walking with butterflies, so to speak, was interesting. Surrounded by butterflies of every size, shape and colour, it was like being in a Skittles commercial.
To take in more flight-ning fun, we finally headed to the Bird Park, which boasts the world’s largest free-flight, walk-in aviary. Being a bird-lover, I really enjoyed the park, but felt the entrance fee was a little steep – especially considering that the Hong Kong Park offers a similar attraction with no admission fee. I cannot recommend the Hornbill Restaurant – at least not based on their burgers.
Near the Bird Park are the Deer Park and Orchid Garden – which were free! We headed off to the Deer Park only to find that it was locked. The Missus and I were not prepared to let a tiny padlock stand between us and the deer. Summoning all my Ninja powers, I scaled the wall and helped the missus over … following the advice of a fellow tourist. The animals were beautiful and absolutely worth breaking the law to see. Okay, maybe that was a bit reckless of us, but free is free, and you can’t come between a tourist and a freebie – especially in Kuala Lumpur!
By the time we made it to the Orchid Garden, the weather had turned, so we decided to head back to our hotel.
Taking advantage of the Monorail and KMT commuter train, we explored KL’s concrete jungle. The iconic Petronas Towers were remarkable. Not only are the towers an attraction in themselves, but a beautifully landscaped garden and a swimming area are also on site.
The KL Tower also offers a great view of the city, and even has a zip-line available for the adventurous.
Of course, a trip to Malaysia would not be complete without some shopping. We were able to visit a few malls, but the best deals we found were at China Town’s night market and surrounding stores. Anything from pirated software to imitation big-name clothing brands is likely to be found there. We even spotted a pair of sandals baring both Adidas and Reebok logos.
Within walking distance of China Town is Central Market – a permanent craft market complemented by a variety of restaurants. As we were admiring trinkets, we stumbled upon a very unique form of massage therapy – fish massage! For a small fee, you can put either your hands or feet into a pool, and the fish will “massage” them. It was difficult to keep a straight face while it was explained to us, and even harder to do so during the massage – toothless fish nibbles tickle like crazy! But I have to admit, my feet did feel a lot softer for it.
Empowered by a shoe-string budget, we were able to find yet another “admission free” tourist attraction: the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are a definite must-see – and possibly the most extraordinary sight we visited during our stay. Rising almost a hundred metres above ground, the caves are are accessible by a flight of 272 steps with many more monkeys. Near the base of the stairs is a statue of Lord Muruga which stands one-hundred-and-forty feet tall – the world’s tallest Lord Muruga Statue.
More impressive than the man-made statues or Hindu shrines were the limestone caves themselves. With a one-hundred metre high ceiling, walking through the caves was like walking into a forgotten, timeless world.
The next morning, our flight departed on time and we arrived in Taipei. Exhausted from our trip, we decided to take the quickest route back to Tainan – the High Speed Rail. Unfortunately, due to a bad electric storm, our train was forced to stop for forty-five minutes at two stations. The only food available on the train at that time were snacks, which were more of a tease than a hunger buster. To make matters worse, we were not allowed to get off the train to buy food at the station. Finally, after four hours, our train pulled into Tainan’s High Speed Rail Station. To make amends for the inconvenience, all passengers on our train were fully reimbursed and offered a steamed bun (a Taiwanese equivalent of a Sloppy Joe). Considering our misadventures in Malaysia, this was a fitting way for our trip to end.
Our trip to Malaysia was far from magical, but despite the setbacks, I’m glad we seized the opportunity. In a very short time, we were able to see and do a great deal. The impressions left on us by the places we visited easily overshadowed the troubles that ultimately led us to unforgettable experiences.