A photo and video summary of oddities and brief adventures during a recent trip to Malaysia.
First stop was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Though I often travel to Malaysia, I had never visited KL before. Usually I’m in Penang where most of my relatives are. KL was quite a different place. The following occurred there.
On the day we went to the Batu Caves it was packed full of people. We had arrived during some kind of religious birthday festival. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Thaipusam festival (known for its rituals surrounding severe body piercing) but we were grateful nonetheless. Normally there’s no one around at all.
The 42.7m statue of Murugun, a Hindu deity, God of War. The largest statue of Murugun in the world.
It takes 272 steps to reach the caves.
But it was worth it for the view.
Monkeys freely climb up and down walls and all over man-made structures.
Having little fear of humans, they would occasionally pose for photos. You could almost touch them before they scampered away.
Inside the caves were full of shrines and statues, and souvenir stores. An odd mix of works in progress, structures in various states of disrepair, walls inexplicably painted in flat colours and a lot of litter. Strange.
We headed further in where there were more steps to a cave opening.
Looking up it was a sight to behold.
We headed back down, thoroughly impressed and thankful that the stories of colonies of bats and aggressive monkeys were not to be.
A planned city located near Kuala Lumpur which serves as Malaysia’s administrative capital. Think Canberra except totally overblown and as locals cynically state, funded entirely by money generated from Malaysian-owned oil and gas company Petronas. All hail Petronas!
Most buildings in Putrajaya are middle eastern in style and very impressive. Most are located along straight and wide avenues akin to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. I would be surprised if that wasn’t the intention.
This particular one is the Perdana Putra building which houses the prime minister’s office.
A panoramic view of the 650ha man-made Putrajaya Lake. A number of bridges span the lake. Entirely uneccessary considering the lack of traffic congestion but impressive nonetheless.
To get close to the Putra Mosque, one has to don the appropriate Islamic garb. Women need to be covered from head to feet whereas men wearing shorts need to cover their legs. Thankfully they have a ready supply for those that are unprepared.
Petronas Twin Towers
At the KL city centre (KLCC) stands the headquarters of Petronas. They were once the tallest building in the world. Now they are just the tallest twin buildings in the world.
Imposing during the day.
Amazing during the night.
Contained within, in addition to the offices of Petronas, are offices of other multinational companies as well as a large shopping mall, petroleum science centre and art gallery. Make no mistake, this building is owned by Petronas. The tour to the sky bridge starts with a 3D movie describing what Petronas does and how much good it does for Malaysia. I got it, but nothing confirmed my love of Petronas like its interactive science centre, Petrosains (petro-sci-ence). I’ve never visited a science centre quite like it. It was enlightening.
Our journey through Petrosains began with a slow theme park ride that started at the beginning of time. After a long series of videos and voice-overs, we disembarked from our time capsule and entered the science centre. We passed through your standard exhibits consisting of optical illusions, funny mirrors, newton balls and classic physics setups – all while being watched over by strange blue creatures. I don’t believe they were ever explained or even had a name. Oh well. We encountered a singing t-rex. That was odd. And then we came across an epic battle between a rod of power and an anti-petroleum demon. Don’t worry, the rod of power won and transformed everything in a house into plastic. Victory to the rod of power!
As we ventured further into the science centre we noticed exhibits starting to take on a more petroleum-specific focus. By the time we encountered the elaborate children-driven black plastic ball factory line – you know, pulleys, buckets, levers, conveyor belts, all driven by tiny hands – we were prepared for pretty much anything, but then we were forced to take a virtual helicopter ride, to an oil rig. Yes it was fully enclosed like the Batman ride in Movie World and it was kinda cool, but when the lights dimmed and the cockpit door opened, we literally stepped out onto an oil rig. A to-scale replica of one in any case. Pipes full of petroleum, massive levers, pressure gauges, crew cabins, giant drill bits – the lot…
Thus began our education in oil production. Where it comes from, how they extract it, the amount of labour it takes. They even got us to practice. I can’t really remember what happened next but I recall re-entering the time capsule and sitting silently as stars and planets flew by, and then we were free.
All hail Petronas!
Way out in the suburbs is a shopping complex called Sunway Pyramid. I’m not sure why it is there but it is.
A sphinx guards the entrance.
Sarcophagi watch over the shopping mall.
In another shopping mall is this gigantic Star Wars scene of an X-Wing attacking Vader’s Tie Fighter in an asteroid field. I also do not know why it is there.
And then we left for Penang.
Kek Lok Si Temple
Kek Lok Si is a historical and holy Buddhist temple. The complex contains a Grand Magnificent Statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, a Goddess of Mercy.
Commissioned from China, it has been identified as the tallest such statue in the world. It is over 120 feet tall and is made entirely of bronze.
Unfortunately the weather is not kind to the statue so the caretakers had to build a pavillion for it.
A pavillion that size costs lots of money, so to raise funds they sell the right to write messages onto roofing tiles. So we donated.
It seems many many many many others have donated too. Hopefully one day it’ll be complete. A pretty clever idea that.
Kenko Fish Spa
A place where fish eat away at your dead skin leaving your legs and feet as smooth as a new born. Dr. Fish they call them. Obvious really.
We opted to dip out feet into pools of fish for 30 minutes. One can opt for a full body experience. Perhaps next time.
Look at them go! When these small fish nibble it feels like electricity running through your skin.
When their largest variety nibbles your skin it feels like you are being eaten alive.
All in all, Malaysia was an interesting place. Stay tuned for Hong Kong 2009!