We arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia a little later than we had anticipated because we had an unscheduled stop in Bangkok on the way out. To cut a very long story short, Royal Jordanian (the airline we were flying with) had cancelled our flight to KL and re-routed it to Bangkok – but hadn’t bothered to tell us! So instead, we flew with them to Bangkok and then they booked us on a Thai Airways flight down to KL. Royal Jordanian also informed us at our Madrid check-in that our return flight has also been cancelled and we will now be returning the following day – shortening our already brief stay in Paris on the way home to Spain in March. We were seriously unimpressed with RJ, but very impressed with Thai Airways. Anyway, I digress….
It’s probably ten years since our last visit to Kuala Lumpur, so it was good to re-aquaint ourselves with this busy capital city. We wandered around the ChinaTown district to the Petaling Street market which offers an explosion to the senses. The smells, sights and sounds bombard you from every angle. Of course, I recognise different cultures have different practices, but nonetheless, I was sad to see live chickens sitting quietly, crammed into cages beneath butchers slabs selling chicken portions. It was as if the chickens knew their fate and had already lost the will to live.
It wasn’t long before we heard the call to prayer drifting across the city from the Masjid Jamek mosque, the oldest Mosque in the city, having been built in 1909. During the time the prayers were taking place the mosque was closed to visitors, so whilst we were waiting to return, we took the opportunity to see Merdeka Square which is situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It was here the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight (time: 12:01 AM) on August 31, 1957.
No trip to Kuala Lumpur would be complete without a visit to the Batu Caves, 13 kms north of the city. We climbed the steep flight of 272 steps to the main temple complex – one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. This is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia, held each year in January or February.