Hi Love Bugs! Wow, it feels good to be writing again. It has been way too long, and I am a few posts behind where I’d like to be. To be honest with you, my body has had an extremely tough time adjusting to Southeast Asia. Since leaving Singapore on the 8th, I have been very sick, sprained my toe, and been focusing on my health. I finally feel well enough to update you on our travels! I know you are all wondering what the heck happened to me, so for the sake of time and bearing you the gritty details, the enviornment here has taken me a long time to get use too. The cities in Malaysia are very hazy and polluted. I only expect this to get worse or stay stagnant as we make our way through Southeast Asia. I’ve noticed through traveling people are always sick (coughing & sneezing all over the place, close to food, and/or on public transit), so my immune system could not keep up, and my sinuses went horribly out of whack! As for the toe, the streets are very uneven here, and often have metal slabs sticking out of the cement. If I have learned one lesson, it is to constantly watch for your next step! I kid you not, yesterday [while in Kuah, Langkawi] Sean and I were walking home from dinner, and he almost stepped in a 1- foot hole, and 150 yards later, we saw a random 3-foot hole just chilling by the sidewalk ready to break someone’s leg. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way by stubbing my toe very hard into a metal casing sticking out of the sidewalk, and I went flying. Needless to say, I AM A-OKAY!
Back to Kuala Lumpur, what a drastic change from Singapore! I think this was our first taste into what Southeast Asia is really like. Looking back, Singapore truly was the most mild transition into Southeast Asia, since it is incredibly Western and just like the United States. I loved spending time outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. Our biggest problem there was transportation. Unlike Singapore, public transit in Kuala Lumpur is very confusing and hard to navigate. The language barrier was more extreme, and we got lost plenty of times. Luckily, we never felt unsafe. Kuala Lumpur is very busy and overcrowded. It overwhelmed me, and being in the main drag was not my cup of tea. There were many beggars, which was incredibly hard to see, yet extremely humbling. I did however, absolutely loved the famous Petronas Towers in the CBD, and our short trips outside of the city to the Batu Caves and the Thean Hou Buddhist Temple. How could you not?
Sean and I visited the Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine, just outside of Kuala Lumpur. While driving to the cave, we could see the gigantic 141 foot gold statue of Murugan, the Hindu God of War. Of course, seeing this statue and gigantic limestone cliffs in this distance built up our anticipation and excitement. Little did we know, we would see 100s of monkeys scurrying around the cave as well. In order to reach the main Temple Cave, we had to climb a very steep 272 colorful steps. We could not believe our eyes when we entered the cave. It was dark and wet, exactly how you’d expect a cave to look; however for some reason, I did not expect this [cue laughter]. I knew I was walking into a cave, but I was so focused on seeing the colorful Hindu shrine, I forgot we had to walk into an actual cave in order to see the shrine, so naturally I was taken back by the beauty of this cave, with the most natural sky light beaming through.
I have always loved learning about other religions and the history behind them. I think I got hooked after my Freshmen year elective, Contempoary World Religions. I am also drawn to everything and anything colorful, so seeing the Hindu and Buddhist Temples are truly a treat for me. The Thean Hou Buddhist Temple was absolutely stunning. The vibrant reds stuck out from a mile away. This Temple is everything I imagined a Chinese Buddhist Temple to be. It brought me back to learning about the dancing Chinese dragons, the deep red colors associated with them, and the passion that goes into celebrating them. Seeing this Temple made my old school textbooks come alive. The architecture of the Temple encompasses four terraced levels with bright big lanterns, dragons, Chinese symbols, and beautiful mosaics. Behind the Temple was an amazing garden and turtle pond. It was pure magic.
Although it seems like you may not like a destination initially, it is so important to think outside of the box and find the hidden gems in every city. I promise they are there. For me, it was seeing the wild monkeys at the Batu Cave and the vibrant colors of the Thean Hou Temple. So much more to come on the blog with our visits to Malaysia’s foodie capital and my personal favorite, the island of gorgeous Langkawi.