It is just a short flight from Java to Kuala Lumpur and an even shorter hop on to Singapore. Again, I lucked into a situation. The hotel I had blindly selected thru Hotels.com turned out to be directly across the street from the World-Famous Petronas Twin Towers and upscale shopping mall (one of KL’s biggest tourist attractions).
My KL to do list in KL was pretty short, consisting of only the Sri Mahamaimman, Chan See Shu, and Kuan Ti Temples, the Central Market, Merdeka Square, the Chinese Night Market, and the Batu Cave. I managed to see it all in a short 24 hours then back to the airport for the quick hop to Singapore. I will let the photos of the KL temples speak for themselves. But two stops were interesting enough to point out.
First the Batu cave is one of the stranger religious shrines I have ever visited. To reach the entrance to the cave you must make your way thru a gauntlet of stalls of all sorts of food, drink and trinkets you would never give a second look back home. But somehow out here people just can’t seem to live without. Once you have made it thru the gauntlet you then must march up over two hundred brightly colored steps to reach the cave’s entrance. And once at the top the cave has been turned into a surreal hodgepodge of Hindu Shrines and statues. The cave is enormous and offers the Hindu faithful multiple alters from which to worship and nonbelievers plenty of eye candy to ponder its purpose.
The second interesting highlight of KL was a busy Halal Café next to the Central Market. This huge complex offers the Muslim faithful a dining experience with food prepared to Muslim religious standards. I ordered a house specialty of a non-breaded fried chicken that had been rubbed with the most incredible tasting concoction. The chicken was served with briyani rice, nan (bread) and a curry soup. And after lunch I enjoyed a delicious desert I had bought on the street called kue putu. This tasty desert consists of rice flour, color and flavor from the pandan leaf, coconut water, the middle is filled with brown sugar. All of this is put into a bamboo shaft and steamed in the bamboo and once cooked covered in shredded coconut. Best eaten warm and I would dare anyone to try to stop at just one.
Singapore is a first world city surrounded by third world countries. It is the financial hub of Southeast Asia and is a melting pot of transplanted Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Pakistani, Brits and French nationalities. The official language is English and they drive on the wrong side of the road.
The city has a ton of modern landmarks like the Marina Bay Sky Park, Gardens by the Bay, Cloud Forest, Sands Hotel and Casino, Orchard Street Mall, Ion Mall, Takashimaya Mall, Lucky Plaza Clarke’s Quay, and Boat Quay. Sadly, two of the city’s historical landmarks I was looking forward to visiting were closed for renovation. Raffles Hotel, home of the original Singapore Sling cocktail and the famous Singapore Lion Statue were both out of commission.
Also, a jazz bar that I had looked forward to visiting on Boat Quay has discontinued live jazz performances which was a bummer. On the bright side – The Crazy Elephant on Clarke Quay was alive and well. I spent a great night in the Elephant enjoying Tiger Beer, great Blues Music, and hanging out with a couple from Perth.
I also made time to explore Chinatown, the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Singapore Buddhist Lodge and Temple. One bad thing about visiting temples across southeast Asia in May is removing your shoes and walking on hot pavement. Since I had seen everything I wanted to see in Singapore it was time to move on to Thailand.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Singapore Buddhist Lodge