Selamat datang! (Welcome in Malay)
We stayed in the Melia hotel on Jalan Imbi a couple of blocks away from the Park Royal where Heather stayed last year and right opposite the Times Square shopping mall. The day we arrived (17th February) was the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations so all the decorations were being taken down and replaced by lanterns with peony flowers on them and lots of artificial cherry trees or branches of blossom started appearing outside shops and businesses. Cherry blossoms are symbolic of the Chinese New Year and peony flowers represent riches and honour.
On our first full day we spent an hour or so deciding what we wanted to do. We phoned last night’s taxi driver and arranged that he would pick us up at 12.00. In the meantime we booked a couple of trips and went to have a look at Times Square shopping mall – expensive. At 12.00 our driver picked us up and drove us to the Batu Caves, about half an hour’s drive outside KL. We spent a couple of hours climbing up and down the 272 steps and looking in various temples that make up this large complex. Mercifully the festival of Thaipusam had already taken place the previous month otherwise the place would have been swarming with pilgrims and pierced kavadi bearers, which I would not have particularly wanted to see although I am sure the celebrations would have been very colourful. I’m also not a fan of big crowds.
a young monkey eats a flower at the side of the staircase
Our driver picked us up again shortly after 2 and drove us back to the hotel where we had a brief rest before leaving for another trip at 4pm.
Norman, our driver for the evening trip, drove us through the countryside, mostly covered with oil palm and coconut plantations, for about one and half hours to the Kuala Selangor nature park and our first destination of Bukit Malawati. This was a landscaped hill with views over the Selangor coast towards the straits of Malacca. A British-style lighthouse crowned the summit. Silver leaf or silver langur monkey are also found on the hill. There were a number of locals selling food for the monkeys mostly in the form of fruit, green beans and packets of crisps and the monkeys were definitely not shy in coming forwards to help themselves to this free food supply. We were lucky enough to see a baby silver leaf monkey – they are a golden orange colour when born – and we were told that the baby we saw was two days old. They lose their golden colour as they get older and we saw one other that was already losing its golden colour.
note the length of their tails!
this baby is gradually losing its golden colour
There was a huge thunderstorm while we were eating and we were stuck in the restaurant for another hour until it passed – torrential rain, thunder and forked lightning lit up the sky. Fireflies don’t come out when it rains so there was some doubt as to whether we would be able to see any. The rain finally stopped and we were able to board our little boat for the short trip upriver to the firefly colonies where we could lots of them blinking in the bushes, it looked like Christmas! This is one of the few places left where there are still substantial firefly colonies so it was a real thrill to see them. On the way back we were shown trees full of roosting herons. Unfortunately my camera wouldn’t cooperate and take photos in the dark. When we finally got back to KL and bed at 11.15 we were completely exhausted.