Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Hey we're the monkeys!

Tuesday 7th December 2010

MP3 track of the day: Hey hey we're the Monkeys - The Monkeys

Weather: Actually quite nice; it's not too hot today and it's not raining. Still quite humid though.

Waking up around 8:30am I got ready to go to the bus station. Before leaving my hostel I checked my email to see if my accommodation was confirmed at the Cameron Highlands ... it was not; I decided to head to the bus station anyway as maybe my accommodation would be confirmed when I got back (plus, on hostel.com, there were a few private rooms vacant within the Cameron Highlands so I knew that there would be accommodation somewhere).

As I mentioned earlier the main bus station is underdevelopment and all services are moved out of town. After asking the receptionist where the temporary bus station was, it turned out to be quite easy to get to, though it did take an hour and one transfer on the train. Once at the bus station I was hounded by official looking women asking where I wanted to go. I decided to look for myself as I was still a little sceptical of free help. I looked at the information boards and it soon became apparent that I did need someones help due to the illogical and baffling information given. This lady took me to a bus stand where I bought a bus ticket, for tomorrow at 1pm, to the Cameron Highlands, for 35 ringgit (£7). I thought that this was pretty expensive so, after the transaction, I looked around the rest of the bus stalls to see if I had been done like a kipper.

After getting hounded a bit more, it appeared that there was only one coach operator to the Cameron Highlands, and I had booked with them. Feeling a little happier I headed back to my hostel, but first I had to get some lunch. I headed into a shopping center that I hadn't been in before. I stood, jaw wide open, when I noticed that this shopping center had ten (yes ten!) floors with an indoor theme park and roller-coaster. I wondered to myself how can a nation like Malaysia justify such a good set of shopping centers (even better than in the west) when there housing infrastructure is so dire; being a business student I know it's important to attract foreign investment, and retail is a major player in a countries economy.,However theres a huge gap between the facilities of shopping centers and residential developments here; it seems people won't be seen dead without the latest football shirt, but they don't mind going home to a thirty story, concrete 1970's design tower block, with black dirt all over the outside. Bizarre and beyond belief are two words that come to mind. Having been in Malaysia quite a while now I feel that the quality of residential buildings is the most pressing issue.

Whilst looking for somewhere to have lunch I passed McDonald's. The queue was huge, which made me wonder why (is the Malayan food that bad). There was rubbish left all over the tables as the staff struggled to keep up with the huge flow of people. One family of three struggled to find a table; eventually they found one with rubbish on. They moved the rubbish to the side of the table; still not content the dad signalled to a McDonald's work to clean their table, even though the bin was right next to him ... he didn't even say thank you. Now the rubbish shouldn't have been on the table in the first place, but why couldn't this guy put the rubbish in the bin, it's not difficult, it wouldn't take long and the worker was extremely busy. It actions like this that make me think the world would be a better place without the slobish human race seemly unable to clear up after ourselves (I'm also finding that in shopping centers, when food courts are full, it's difficult to get a seat. I keep asking people if the rest of the seats are taken, on their six-seat table, to which the reply is always yes ... I have a feeling they maybe lying).

After lunch I got back to my hostel, checked my emails again to see if my accommodation had been reserved (still no email), picked up my camera and headed out for a ten minute walk to the train station. My destination, the Batu Caves.

'The Batu Caves is an area of Hindu temples with loads of monkeys' - my guidebook stated. However its much more than that. When you approach the Batu caves you are greeted by this huge green statue of some god or other, and a temple with gold coloured carvings on it's roof. As you continue to walk along the path you are greeted by this huge (and I mean huge) god, head-to-toe in a golden colour. It was massively impressive and the sheer size of the statue was unbelievable, it made people look like ants. To the left of the statue was a stair case to the caves; as my guidebook stated that the caves were free, I decided to have a look. As I climbed the two hundred steps into the caves I was surrounded by monkeys, eating and drinking food that they had stolen from people visiting the caves (my guidebook said do not get food out as the monkeys might turn violent as they try to take it of you); they were drinking cans of coke, eating bananas, and crisps, and generally larking around.

I went into the caves; they were really good and created a pretty cool, but humid, environment. All around the cave walls were Hindu statues which were okay. Up another flight of stairs I came to the main temple located in a circular cave with no roof. All around were monkeys running this way and that (there were also quite a few pigeons which you don't see in Malayan cities ... I think it's because there are so many street cats within this country) with one large monkey getting into a flight with several smaller monkeys.

The whole place was great, however it was also very humid and so I left the caves after spending around forty minutes there. On my way back to the train station I looked at all this religious wonder, the buildings, the statues, the caves. This is one of the things I don't like about religion; all the money spent on religious buildings, statues and monuments could have been spent on providing people with better facilities, like better housing. Why do we need cathedrals, temples, mosques to pray in ... why not just a humble structure. I reckon all the money spent on religion could be put to a better use in helping the poor get out of the vicious cycle of poverty that they seem to be stuck in. I loved the Batu caves, definitely a must in Kuala Lumpur, however they did leave a little sour taste in my mouth.

I got back on the train (which cost me one ringgit to get to the caves and two ringgit to leave ... figure that out) and headed back to my hostel. I plan to eat early tonight and then head out, when dark, to the Petronas Towers to get some night shots.

My Cameron Highlands accommodation has been confirmed (hippie ... however I also found out that they have a shuttle service from Kuala Lumpur for the same price as my coach ticket ... doh!). My Guidebook states that a sleeping bag might be required in the highlands ... I hope not.

Toodle Pip!

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