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Second day in Malaysia – 27/10/11

Our second day in Malaysia started by being very rudely awakened by the ringing telephone. Not only did we fail to set our alarm properly -clock was still on SA time- but we had 5 minutes before our tourbus arrives. With mad hair, pillow marks on our faces and barely dressed we fell into the bus with only a few grabbed pastries as breakfast.

Kuala Lampur owes it’s existence to the tin mines that once covered the area, but plastic and aluminium became the cheaper options. Now most of the mines have been covered and built-over. Any remaining lakes are recreational areas.

Our first stop was at the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory, the largest and most modern factory in the world. What an amazing tour!! We saw ancient logbooks and original tin mixed with lead items to a scale Patronas Towers made from pewter tankards. Next we were served a delicious cooling drink in visitors pewter cups. Pewter will keep this cool temperature for 30 mins! We also viewed the pewter being cast, shaped, polished and decorated. We even tried our hand at hammering a tankard – not as easy as it looks! The factory produces silver items and jewellery as well, but their legacy lies in the pewter and they will not use machines for things that workers can do better.

We had a tough browse through the gift-shop where agonizing decisions faced us. The adorable chinese zodiac figurines, or the beautiful tankards? The gorgeous pendants or the cute chop-stick holders? Pretty cups or airtight canisters? Finally with our decisions made we crossed our fingers and handed over our credit cards. Yesterday’s card fiasco still fresh in our minds. (Thank You Standard Bank for phoning us in the middle of the night to unblock our cards.) Finally with our packets of treasures in hand we passed the last wall of handprints. These cut-outs are for each worker who has been with the company for 5 years.

Back on the tourbus we sped through a more industrial area to the Kuala Lampur Batik Factory. This is a painted silk type sarong or dress. They draw patterns on the silk with melted wax, then shake different colours of dye over it. Once the wax has been ironed out it makes a one-of-a-kind silk sarong. The ladies showed us how to tie different dresses and tops from scarves and sarongs.

Then during the hottest part of the day we arrived at the Batu Caves. 272 steps of penance alongside a massive gold Buddha to the top opens up to the cool and wet interior which houses the Shrine of Lord Murugiah, a hindu deity. Deepavali is still in full swing and the area was strewn with fruit, flowers and oil lamps. Watch out for the super cheeky monkeys who will quickly and forcefully relieve you of your food items! Another 144 steps inside the caves and we had had enough exercise for one day. Back down at the bottom there was a fishpond filled with gigantic fish. We got lovely henna tattoos on our hands by an indian lady who seems to know each design by heart, and braved the boiling sun to go and view the 2 storey tall Monkey king statue. Finally the air-conditioned van and amused driver Ravi sped us back to our hotel.

We had lunch at the hotel and then a lovely cooling bath. A mad dash for closed shoes sent us running through the afternoon monsoon rains, messing up our freshly washed hair. After rewarding ourselves with decadent doughnuts, the tourbus picked us up once more for our evening tour. China Town by night wasn’t particularly alluring but we did find our way back to the gorgeous tea shop and my 3 cups adopted a little teapot and two little (matching) orphan cups. We also discovered why the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is such a popular choice for Hindu weddings. It is gorgeous inside!!!

The last stop was an interesting Malay Buffet and a show of traditional dancing and performance. Members of the audience were invited to try and pop a balloon with a traditional blow-dart-pipe and also to try the bamboo dance. The Malay version of ‘Nataniel’ was our host and made for lots of giggles. We ended the evening with a coffee and biscuit run and this time setting the alarm correctly…

The BEST holidays

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