SIN/KL 2014: Batu Caves

December 02, 2014

Arrived from Singapore at Sentral Station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! The first thing we did – have McDonald’s for breakfast. My first time visiting a predominantly Muslim country and an interesting fact was learned immediately: no pork products are offered on McDonald’s menus as their kitchens are certified Halal. We enjoyed breakfast sandwiches with chicken sausages for the first time, super tasty!

After breakfast, Nasir (my mom’s friend’s nephew) came to meet us. Always nice to have a friend join you in an unfamiliar country! We grabbed a taxi to Sky Hotel, where we would be staying for a night. The rooms are cheap and very spacious, however, would we recommend staying there? Likely not, One of the main reasons we chose Sky Hotel was its advertised free wifi, which did not work the entire time we were there. Luckily they had desktops downstairs we could use. Unfortunately, we were quite stressed awaiting the results of final exams and not having wireless internet that we paid for didn’t help!

We dropped our luggage at the hotel and immediately headed to Batu Caves, nearly an hour (13km) north of KL via the Komuter train.

(Quoted information taken from Wikipedia)

“The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India,and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. The 42.7-metre (140 ft) high statue of Lord Murugan was unveiled in January 2006, having taken 3 years to construct. It is the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world.”

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“Rising almost 100 m above the ground, the Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps.”

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“At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and paintings.”

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Some more photos taken at the bottom of the stairs.

I feel like I would never put myself in such a situation, unless I really wanted pigeons to poop on me.

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Many sweets and snacks to try

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“There are various undeveloped caves which contain a diverse range of cave fauna, including some unique species, such as Liphistiidae spiders and Eonycteris and fruit bats. The site is also well known for its numerous macaques, which visitors feed — sometimes involuntarily.”

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Try and visit early in the morning so the sun isn’t at its peak! And bring water 🙂

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Appropriate attire should be worn, especially for ladies – shoulders and knees covered!

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Halfway up, looking back over the statue of Lord Murugan at KL

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On the way up, we stopped to visit the Dark Cave. “Below the Temple Cave is the Dark Cave, with rock formations and a number of animals found nowhere else. It is a two-kilometer network of relatively untouched caverns. Stalactites jutting from the cave’s ceiling and stalagmites rising from the floor form intricate formations such as cave curtains, flow stones, cave pearls and scallops which took thousands of years to form. In order to maintain the cave’s ecology, access is restricted. The Malaysian Nature Society organises regular educational and adventure trips to the Dark Caves.”

Entrance to Dark Cave, about 3/4 of the way up the main flight of stairs, on the right. Please visit their website for more information about the cave, its conservation and tours.

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Some of the cave formations at the entrance to Dark Cave

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Nasir and my mom… chickening out of the tour of Dark Cave.

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Micheal and I paid RM 35 ($11 CAD) to take part in a 45-minute guided Educational Tour. The tour takes place with a small group and education officer who guides us through a talks about “cave history, the unique guano driven ecosystem and the geological formations as you marvel at the sights and sounds of the Dark Cave.”  Don’t worry, you are provided with hard hats (protection against guano/bat poop!) and flashlights. Our guide, Faiz, was knowledgeable, experienced and had a great sense of humour. He made sure everyone followed the rules (no flash photography, no shining torches above shoulder level, no veering off the pathway, etc), stayed together and didn’t get left out.

It was hard to take photos in the pitch black cave, but here are a few of the animal life we encountered.

The yellow blob is guano (bat poop) with nearby worms feasting on it

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Not your average centipede. As you can see, these ones have evolved extra long legs to allow them better accommodation in the darkness of the cave.

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Other animal life we saw but couldn’t take photos of included bats, cave cockroaches, and spiders (though not the trapdoor spider). We weren’t fortunate enough to sight the Cave Racer snake! We also saw numerous unique cave structures including: stalactites, stalagmites, cave curtains, cave pearls, and more!

Cave selfies!

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Unlike the majority of the tour, closer to the end you reach an area where some sunlight streams through. A great opportunity to take a memorable photo!

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From here, the tour ends and you are guided back out the way you come. Opportunities for further questions are available at the end, and if you want, you could even sign up for the Adventure Tour, a 3-4 hour guided tour that takes you further into the caves with elements of crawling, climbing and sliding 😉 Unfortunately for us, this tour is only offered on the weekends or we would’ve participated!

After visiting the Dark Cave, we continued up the 272 steps to reach the Temple Cave

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The interior of Batu Caves

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Main temple of Murugan inside Temple Cave

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Closer view of the main temple’s roof

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Regular inhabitants include not only monkeys but also pigeons!

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It was sad to see such a visited site so filthy. Garbage strewn all around, didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a long time. Such a shame.

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The cave is extremely tall with pockets of sunlight shining through

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We ended our trip to Batu Caves with refreshing fresh coconuts and a small snack to hold us over until we got back into KL 🙂

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If you have a few hours, I would definitely recommend a visit to Batu Caves! Extremely easy and cheap in terms of transportation from KL and we would definitely recommend a visit to the Dark Cave! A great educational opportunity and your fee will go towards conservation.

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