The Hinduist ethics and the spirit of consumerism
Trip Start Jul 25, 2011
25Trip End Sep 01, 2011
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What I did
This morning I decided to give a try to Batu Caves, a complex of shrines built in a stunning set of caves surrounded by tropical trees and lakes. Climbing 272 steps under the rain was quite a struggle but hey, no elevators to holiness!
The complex is dedicated to Lord Murugan's struggle against evil, and is quite popular and packed with Hinduist pilgrims and the omnipresent Korean shoppers. After entering the first of the three larger caves you're required to take off your shoes and complete the experience at the upper level, where a large opening on the roof lets into the caves air, light, nesting birds and of course, floods of rain!
I didnt mention that the caves also host some wandering animals, didnt see a single monkey (guess they were sleeping) but I could see and feel the chicken shit after stepping on it barefooted.
On the way back the first wave of Hinduist pilgrims reached the inner temples, called by a man ringing a huge bell, into a smaller "chapel" into the wet limestone. A curtain covering a holy display was liftes and everyone raised their hands into prayer, all af this under the heavy noise of the rain, the bell ringing, the music and the scent of incense permeating the caves. I could just sit and awe for about half an hour before heading back to the outside of the caves.
Down to the base of the stairs I saw something quite amazing: several old women were climbing the stairs walking on their hands and knees, followed by an older man holding a metal plate full of food offering to the gods. Not a religious person here, but you have to admire such dedication and belief.
On the way back to KL a young kid of about nine years of age sat next to me and introduced himself.
"Hello mister I think you very handsome. You going to Kuala Lumpur? Want to come my village?"
At this point I started to imagine an upcoming police raid and some newspaper headlines such as EUROPEAN CHILD MOLESTER CAUGHT but it turned out that he was just a young kid trying to practice his English and saying lot of strange but innocent phrases.
The exchange was quite interesting:
"You from Italy, near Brazil? No, England?"
"You muslim? Sorry sorry for asking, I like pork but cannot eat it"
"You visit Mosque nice photos I pray five times every day, but I like play with beyblades more!"
"I have two brothers and two sisters and live with parents. You alone with parents? Incredible! Lot of presents! *big smile and laugh*
"When I finish school I go take Master and PhD and become scientist or engineer and travel to Australia, Singapore and Kenya to see the animals! But not like monkeys in Batu Caves, they break my schoolbag and steal my food"
The kid then reached his station and left after smiling and waving. I reached KL Sentral and decided to try visiting the Pavilion Mall.
At this point I should say it loud and clear: I imagined that all of KL looked like its Chinatown. This couldnt be mor far from the truth. In fact, most parts of the city look like Dubai.
The Pavilion is an incredible 6 floors HUGE mall with dozens of ethnic restaurants, an entire floor dedicated to Asian eateries and even an indoor cinema. And best of all, the recently inaugurated upper floor hosts a so-called "Tokyo road" with several shops and restaurants, from green tea to cosmetics, from Hello Kitty to Japanese crepes.
Since it's new I was able to eat there and receive a coupon for another ramen bowl anytime. Note that this upper level restaurant costed me the whooping sum of 25MYR-7 euros for the best ramen I ever had in my life. The rest of the mall offers budget friendly dishes for about 7-15 MYR, which is usually the sum that you pay for the table service charge only in Italy. I was still stuffed but what can you do when you can have delicious food for the price of a bus ride? (again in Europe, a monorail ticket costs between 0.25 and 2.15 MYR.
Closing note: I could kill for another Taiwanese ice-cold Pearl Tea.