Chinese Laundry

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
1
14
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Trip End Apr 25, 2013


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Flag of Malaysia  , Kuala Lumpur,
Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm getting a bit behind with the Whittlog so time to revert from present tense to past.
We took the early morning coach from Pangkor back to K.L. and booked into the Citin hotel. The room was a bit shoddy so we had a bit of a think until Jon spotted a tiny creature on the bedsheets. Thanks to an unfortunate incident with a locum in Portsmouth hospital, the insect was quickly identified as a bed bug, caught on a piece of micropore and presented to the receptionist. She thought about protesting but wisely upgraded us instead. Bonus! -we thought until we found more bugs in this room and the third room so off we trotted towards China town where the hotels were less itchy.
Chinatown is bustling and busy wherever you turn, from people cooking chicken feet over coals to the huge market crammed full of fake designer goods, 'Rolecks' and 'Guchi' if you're not too careful. At the end of the road is something that neither of us have seen for over a month (Jon somewhat longer) - a washing machine. Oh joy! The domestic goddess in me rejoiced. Clothes go in various shades of brown, come out like a travelling rainbow. I was shocked and ever so slightly appalled by how filthy we have been.
As I managed to ruin my own birthday with Burmese belly, Jon's thoughtfully pre arranged celebratory meal had to be postponed. On our second night back in KL he took me to 'Dining in the Dark'. If you want to do something truly different, something that is entertaining as well as being a completely new sensory experience, I would recommend this and I think there might be one in London. All the serving staff, musicians and waiters are blind or partially sighted and customers eat in complete darkness. Anything that can emit light, even the dial on a wristwatch, must be put in a locker before entering the restaurant. I have never experienced such complete darkness and it it's almost claustrophobic. It plays games with the retina and we both have a short glimpse of what it might be like in the world of the people who so carefully serve us. 
We were given a fork and spoon to eat with but the fork was soon abandoned in favour of digits. Thank God they didn't arm us with knives or there would have to be a suturing in the light experience afterwards. It is quite amazing how much more you can gain from food when you can't see it. The texture and little bursts of taste are quite bewildering and we both failed quite miserably at identifying at least a third of what we ate. It's apparently not uncommon for customers to eat and enjoy ingredients that they normally dislike. 

Whilst in KL again, we visited the world's largest covered aviary along with half of South East Asia as it was another public holiday. In Malaysia, there has been a multi-cultural push recently which has resulted in every religion's holy days and festivals being acknowledged. Our friend Hoey Teing told us that there's a public holiday practically every week and there have been three since we've been in Malaysia. Back around the main streets on the edge of Chinatown and Little India public holidays bring a huge influx of men between the ages of 16-40y who fill the streets in little clusters, smoking, fiddling with mobile phones and generally looking quite shifty. They don't seem to talk to each other, don't move anywhere and there is a noticeable lack of women which makes me feel very uncomfortable so we don't linger long, opting to retreat to the Reggae Reggae bar where happy hour lasts for nine hours each day.

The Batu caves are a forty minute bus ride from the city centre and are one of the biggest pilgrimage sites for Hindus outside India as well as hosting a diverse ecosystem within their limestone walls. They have also been a rich source of guano for hundreds of years. Some of the creatures here such as the trap door spider are unique to this cave system. We climbed the many steps to the to upper cave being carried along by the never ending flow of Sunday best saris but there wasn't much up there except rubbish and hens. The lower caves contain all the wildlife but we didn't see much of it on out little tour as most things sensibly hide away in the restricted area.

Next stop diving, can't wait!
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