Batu Caves and its monkey gangs
And there we were after almost 30 days crossing SEA, finishing our longest journey until then, in Malaysia. This country was never on our plans, there are a lot of things to do and see before and its location was too much out of route for our plans. However, the fact that we have a friend living there (a local girl btw) changed everything. 4 years before, we created our CouchSurf profile and hosted an Asian girl. You can guess the end of the story.
Our only plan for Kuala Lumpur was a visit to Batu Caves. I have to confess that the main reason was to check the “aggressive monkeys” but it would be also nice to see a Hindu temple for the first time.
For those who do not know this place, the Batu Caves are one of the most important Hindu shrines outside India. It is well know for the giant golden statue representing Murunga, the Hindu god of War and its 272 steps stairway, where all the the fun begins.
The Batu Caves Monkeys
The religious importance of Batu Caves is unquestionable, but the high pick for most part of travellers is the opportunity to interact with the “monkey gangs” that rule the place.
Let it be clear, they own the place. It is like enter on hostile territory. To them, people means free food and they will do everything they can to rob your water bottle or a pack of Oreo (our case). If humans are exploiting animals in Argentina, Batu Caves is the place for a payback.
Our Malaysian friends gave three simple rules to be followed so we can avoid problems with the primates:
- Don’t show your teeth: That includes not smile as they face it as an aggressive manner.
- Don’t feed them: they will never stop asking for it. Indeed, they will take whatever they could. Those are cold heart creatures
- Don’t bring your purse: They associate purses with food (more than a backpack for example)
Fortunately, some are not aware of this, resulting in funny scenes of people running after monkeys, yelling and laughing at them. The more you go up, the more you have fun. From mama monkeys breastfeeding their kids to 10 seconds intercourses. Be prepared for anything
The good side is that you can’t even notice the number of stairs you are climbing. But never lower your guard.
But what is inside the Batu Caves?
I am not sure if we did not know what to expect or if the interior of Batu Caves is not that great. Of course, the caves are huge, natural illuminated by fissures in the celling. Very impressive!
Those alone would be enough for a nice experience. However, when you finish the 272 steps you will face also overpriced souvenirs shops, poor maintained temples, beggars, dirt, urine smell, pigeons, chickens… Many things we were not expecting to find in a holy place. All of them combined make you spend not more than 30 minutes on the inside. Kind disappointing.
Getting to Batu Caves
It is surprisingly easy to get into the Batu Caves. From KL Sentral, the main rail station in Kuala Lumpur, there one line (KTM) that drops you right in front of the caves. From the station a 5 minutes walk will lead you the beginning of the site.
The entrance is free and women should have legs covered to enter the caves. If you are unprepared, a long skirt can be rented for a decent price. Remove your shoes before enter on the shrines, otherwise you will have an Indian guy yelling at you. Considering the amount of tourists that visit the place, the number of signs indicating what is forbidden is very little.
Afterwards, we saw a place that waste a lot of potential. We’ve been in several temples (also inside caves) but this one is kind of abandoned, what is unacceptable due to the number of people visiting it. The Batu Caves could the reason for somebody to visit Kuala Lumpur but is indeed just another place to go. Sad if we take in consideration its religious and spiritual importance .