Last time we went as a family was in 2006, a few months before my mum passed; the last time I went was in 2007 for her memorial ceremony. After that I had no desire to go back, even though I still have family there, but without my parents, especially my mum, it just wasn’t the same.
Now, with the boys being older and curious enough to reacquaint themselves with their extended family and meet new members, we felt the time was right. And it’s been a loooong time since we’ve had a long holiday away.
Gordon only had 2 weeks for Easter break, and Neil couldn’t take any longer than that off work … 2 weeks seemed long enough until we got there then, wow! Talk about trying to squeeze as much as was humanly possible into the suddenly short 2 weeks. It was great seeing my family again – oldest sister and her family, my aunt, cousins…
Our hotel was more like serviced apartments with loads of room – a living/dining area, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, 3 bathrooms, a utility area with a washing machine (which meant I didn’t have a huge pile of washing to sort through when we got home!) We had a great view of the KL Tower – the 6th largest communications tower in the world (M’sians are obsessed with statistics *lol*), and the Twin Towers.
KL Tower - daytime and nightime
The location was fab; walking distance (even in the heat & humidity) to shopping malls and a fantastic foodie street, especially busy in the evenings with a huge range of restaurants, albeit all Chinese. The boys did well, sampling different foods. Liam, who used to be such a fussy eater, was determined to try as many new things as he could and I must say, he did himself proud.
At night, this road is transformed into a seemingly never-ending food street
We made like tourists (!) with lots of sight-seeing and a spot of shopping. We visited the Bird Park, a free-flight, walk-in aviary with so many different species of birds walking about unrestricted, although some were fenced in. We were there for about 2 hours, not enough time to see everything. Close by was a butterfly farm but had to give that a miss as we’d run out of time.
Vulturine guinea fowl
Victorian crowned pigeons
Peahen & 2 chicks
Birds nesting in trees directly above us
Flamingos & a couple of pelicans
Hibiscus, national flower
Twin Towers ...
Standing near the base, looking right up
The one thing I’d been looking forward to the most, was visiting Batu Caves (‘batu’ means ‘stone’ in Malay), a system of limestone caves. There are 3 main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest one is known as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave; its ceiling is over 300ft high! There are temples built in and around the caves, with the main one dedicated to Murugan, Ganesha’s younger brother; their parents are Shiva and Parvathi.
There are also temples to Ganesha, Hanuman and Vishnu ... In the Hindu religion, Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, so there is always a temple or shrine to him in every temple, regardless of who the main temple is dedicated to.
Temple to Vishnu
Batu Caves has the tallest Murugan statue in the world, standing about 130ft high!
Murugan is a popular deity among Tamils (he was my mum's favourite) and is worshipped throughout the year, including ‘Thaipusam’, a festival celebrated mostly by Tamils on the full moon in the Tamil month o ‘Thai’ (Jan/Feb). ‘Pusam’ refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvathi gave her son a ‘vel’ (lance) so he could vanquish the evil demon, Soorapadman. According to the legend, the demon used many tricks and deceits to get the better of Murugan, until finally he changed himself into a tree. Murugan threw his ‘vel’ at the tree, splitting it in two, and defeated the demon. But when Soorapadman genuinely repented and begged forgiveness, Murugan was merciful. When he asked to serve Murugan, the god changed the split halves of the demon into a peacock (his vehicle) and a rooster, which adorns his banner.
The only way to reach the shrines in the Temple Cave is to climb 272 steps!! But we did it, even me, not any fitter than when I climbed them 6 years ago *lol* But we did have lots of breaks in between, which helped.
Off we go ...
In the Temple Cave ... about 300ft above us ...
Inside the caves ... more steps up to the main Murugan temple ...
The far end of the Temple Cave, which opens up to the sky ...
The part the boys enjoyed the most was seeing the hordes of long-tailed macaque monkeys that have free roam of the place. The cheeky things know that only orange plastic bags contain fruit and flowers (offerings for the gods) and try to snatch them from people. One did grab a Pringles tube from a little boy, ran off with it and settled down to enjoy the crisps!! There were loads of adorable baby monkeys …
Eating coconut in the caves...
In the end, the 2 weeks didn’t seem long enough. The 2 Sundays we were there, we had lunch at my sister’s with her family, which was chaotic fun with a 1.5 year old, a 23-month old, and a 6-year-old; another evening we had dinner at my oldest nephew’s place; yet another day it was lunch with my aunt and cousins; I spent a couple of days with my sister while Neil and the boys chilled by the pool.
Most mornings, we had a visitor outside our room window, a mynah ... not sure if it was the same one each time but I liked to think it was ...
The day before we left, Neil decided to go up the KL Tower ...
There was a bit too much haze to get a clear view, but that's Batu Caves in the distance
The last night we were there, we had one heckuva thunderstorm. The rain came down so heavily, we lost sight of the KL Tower and could hardly make out the buildings across the road. The lightning was spectacular, the thunder awesome and then there were flash floods!! The road across from the hotel turned into a river! The traffic was horrendous after that – so glad we weren’t out – and still hadn’t cleared when we went to bed about 9:45pm!!!
The KL Tower is in the space to the left of the trees!!
We arrived back home in the early hours of Friday morning (12/04), about half past midnight, after a 13hour flight (not including the transfer at Singapore) and a 2hour coach trip ... think we're over the jet-lag. And now, it’s back to work for Neil, college for Gordon, and back to our routine for Liam and me. Though I feel I could do with another break to get over the busy 2 weeks we’ve just had ;o)