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Lord Murugan Statue outside Batu Caves. This is easily the LARGEST statue I have ever seen. Unbelievable site to behold!

Lord Murugan Statue outside Batu Caves. This is easily the LARGEST statue I have ever seen. Unbelievable site to behold!

Today, I toured the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I was in a word, impressed.  Two of the places I visited – the Royal Palace and the Batu Caves – went far beyond being “impressed.” The Lord Murugan Statue is the tallest statue of Hindu deity in Malaysia and second tallest statue of Hindu deity in world, only second place to the Kailashnath Mahadev Statue in Nepal. It also the tallest statue in Malaysia with 42.7 metre in height. It took 3 years of construction and unveiled in January 2006 during the Thaipusam festival. I was simply wowed by how large it was. It dwarfed over every thing in sight.

Notice how I am sort of unnaturally "bent back?" Only because the monkey has twice tried to steal my glasses. I finally took them off, but I am still a bit wary of him.

Notice how I am sort of unnaturally “bent back?” Only because the monkey has twice tried to steal my glasses. I finally took them off, but I am still a bit wary of him.

Ken and his wife (who was quite nice, but I can't remember her name). They are both from Calgary and were part of our small tour group. Both of them have traveled extensively all over the world. I really enjoyed chatting with both of them.

Ken and his wife (who was quite nice, but I can’t remember her name). They are both from Calgary and were part of our small tour group. Both of them have traveled extensively all over the world. I really enjoyed chatting with both of them.

Chaifen and Charles (I hope I spelled his wife's name correctly). They were part of our tour group as well and were also staying at the Sheraton, as I was.  Wonderful couple that I enjoyed getting to know a bit while on this tour.

Chaifen and Charles (I hope I spelled his wife’s name correctly). They were part of our tour group as well and were also staying at the Sheraton, as I was. Wonderful couple that I enjoyed getting to know a bit while on this tour.

There are various undeveloped caves which contain a diverse range of cave fauna, including some unique species, such as Liphistidae spiders and Eonycteris and Rousettus fruit bats. The site is also well known for its numerous macaque monkeys which visitors feed — sometimes involuntarily. These monkeys may also pose a biting hazard to tourists (especially small children) as they can be quite territorial. Personally, I was very careful when I took a photograph with one of them. In fact, the sucker went for my sun glasses and I finally removed them and then had Charles take the picture.

These 272 steps you must climb if you want to visit and explore the caves. Each step represents a "sin" which will be removed from each person making the ascending trek. Me? I did it twice because I am such a sinner. Grin.

These 272 steps you must climb if you want to visit and explore the caves. Each step represents a “sin” which will be removed from each person making the ascending trek. Me? I did it twice because I am such a sinner. Grin.

Below the Temple Cave is the Dark Cave, with rock formations and a number of animals found nowhere else. It is a two-kilometer network of relatively untouched caverns. Stalactites jutting from the cave’s ceiling and stalagmites rising from the floor form intricate formations such as cave curtains, flow stones, cave pearls and scallops which took thousands of years to form.

Hindu temple inside the cave.

Hindu temple inside the cave.

In order to maintain the cave’s ecology, access is restricted. The Malaysian Nature Society organises regular educational and adventure trips to the Dark Caves. The following photos are all from the Batu caves.

Almost to the top.

Almost to the top.

Another perspective of this statue.

Another perspective of this statue.

Inside the cave.

Inside the cave.

Huge limestone stalactite.

Huge limestone stalactite.

Monkeys ran the joint. Ha. Actually, that isn't entirely true, since their were quite a few roosters and other animals inside as well.

Monkeys ran the joint. Ha. Actually, that isn’t entirely true, since their were quite a few roosters and other animals inside as well.

Waiting for a handout.

Waiting for a handout.

We also visited the Royal Selangor Visitor Center, which introduces you to the largest pewter factory in the world. Founded in 1885, Royal Selangor is the world’s foremost name in quality pewter. Their brochure says, “Royal Selangor is synonymous with design and craftsmanship. In the hands of our skilled craftspeople, this versatile alloy of tin, copper, and antimony is transformed into an endless variety of homeware and gifts sold in more than twenty countries around the world. today.” I was certainly impressed with their factory. Here a some photos of what we saw there.

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Factory floor. Notice the woman covering her head with a scarf.

Me holding one of their pewter products.

Me holding one of their pewter products.

Giant pewter beer stein. Not even I could drink this much beer in my drinking hey day.

Giant pewter beer stein. Not even I could drink this much beer in my drinking hey day.

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Factory floor.

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The money tree was quite common hundreds of years ago in Malaysia. Of course, back then it was usually made of tin. This representation is made of gold I think (although it could be the reflection from the glass container, i.e., I am not certain) and when someone wanted to purchase something, they would break off the appropriate amount of the tree and buy the product or service.

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The Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers made out of pewter beer steins.

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Pewter and gold weight comparison.

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Similar to the money tree that Malaysians used many years ago to buy products and services, sometimes the money came in the form of crocodiles and other animals native to Malaysia. Again, they would break off a portion of the tin animal to pay for a product or service.

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Expensive pieces of Art stored in their museum.

As I mentioned earlier, I was impressed with the National Palace, commonly called Istana Negara. According to our tour guide, “Frankie,” the King does not live in any residence for longer than 5 years. Consequently, a new palace must be built for him every 5 years. WTF? I have no idea if Frankie was pulling our leg or telling the truth. Regardless, this home which sits on 13 acres is truly impressive. It cost 800RM (I have no idea what that converts to in U.S. dollars, but it’s a lot). These are the photos I snapped while there.

Istana Negara National Palace.

Gates to the Istana Negara National Palace.

National Palace.

National Palace.

No one gets past this guy (or his horse)

No one gets past this guy (or his horse). The umbrella is not for rain, but the sun. It was cooking yesterday at about 34-35 C degrees.

This guy wont let me in either.

This guy wont let me in either.

Your ID has to say "King" if you want to pass through this gate . . . or be invited by him.

Your ID has to say “King” if you want to pass through this gate . . . or be invited by him.

We also stopped at a few other places on this tour, including the Petronas Twin Towers; National Mosque; Independence Square; and a few souvenirs and product centers (leather, chocolate, etc.)..   Although I didn’t get to stay very long in Kuala Lumpur, I would visit it again. The city has much to be proud of and I only scratched the surface during my 2 day layover there. Here are some other pictures I took on this tour, as well as a few I took the day before.

Interesting building near the National Mosque.

Interesting building near the National Mosque.

National Mosque. The largest Muslim mosque in Malaysia.

The National Mosque, which was constructed in 1965. The largest Muslim mosque in Malaysia. Minaret is 73 meters in height. The mosque can accommodate 15000 people.

National Mosque. The largest Muslim mosque in Malaysia.

National Mosque. The largest Muslim mosque in Malaysia.

Another picture of the National Mosque. Notice the "blue umbrella" to the right of the minaret. The umbrella is a 16 point concrete star roof and is synonymous with the tropics.

Another picture of the National Mosque. Notice the “blue umbrella” to the right of the minaret. The umbrella is a 16 point concrete star roof and is synonymous with the tropics.

Petronas Twin Towers.

Petronas Twin Towers. At one time, it was the tallest building in the world.

British government building at one time - now being used by the Malaysian government.

British government building at one time – now being used by the Malaysian government.

Clock tower located across the street from Independence Square and cricket field.

Clock tower located across the street from Independence Square and cricket field.

Cocoa beans. Malaysia has excellent coffee and chocolate. We sampled both during this tour.

Cocoa beans. Malaysia has excellent coffee and chocolate. We sampled both during this tour.

Notable Malaysian television station.

Notable Malaysian television station.