Saturday, June 13, 2015

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

One of the highlights and most visited sights in Kuala Lumpur are the Batu Caves. It is an easy tourist spot to get to as one of the train lines end right outside the gates of this attraction. As we were staying at Reggae Mansion the closest station to us was Masjid Jamek where we had to head to KL Sentral and transfer to get on the train heading to Batu Caves Komuter station. It may sound confusing but everything is easily sign-posted (in English) and all the transport staff were very helpful if you did need to ask a question.

Cost: Masjid Jamek - KL Sentral = 1.30 per person / KL Sentral - Batu Caves = 2.00 per person

Within one of the Hindu temples.
You purchase your entry ticket at the gates (3.00MYK fee) and the moment you step through there are different sized caves to your left and right. It was amazing! The statues and the colours are electric and the story they tell are so mesmerising you could easily spend 3 or more hours here. Even if it was just to sit down and take everything in; watch all the tourists, hawkers or locals interact, everything about this place seemed magical. The only gripe I had was that there were no English signs explaining what each little display meant but it made it more fun trying to come up with your own conclusions.

Within one of the Hindu temples.
A little walk to the right of the entrance is the main sight- the Batu Caves. This is apparently 400 million years old and has about 272 steps leading to the top. It is also home to many thieving monkeys that are very, very used to close human contact. While they aren't aggressive (if not provoked) just do be careful because they are still very wild.

Inside the Dark Cave
One thing that a lot of people miss as they don't advertise it wildly, is that about halfway to three-quarters of the way up the steps there is a mini cave to the left- the Dark Cave. Here they offer a 45 minute tour (35MYR) every 20 minutes. The groups are kept relatively small and you get given a torch and helmet before entering. The guides are very professional and informative. They give you a rundown about the history of the cave, it's exploration, foundation, the environment and it's habitants. Very interesting and very well worth the money. Also, it is a good reprieve from the hot and humid Malaysian weather.

Walking towards the main attraction.

The actual Batu Cave itself is pretty grand in size but unfortunately not in appearance. I didn't think it was well maintained and unfortunately they couldn't get rid of all the pigeons that must call this place home. Consequently, a large number of pigeons also meant a large amount of bird droppings all over the place- even on statues and carvings. I guess they don't really want to "modernise" or change the authenticity of the place, as it is very sacred to the community, but a little cleanup here and there wouldn't go amiss.
A truly wonderful sight.

All in all, the Dark Cave was definitely my highlight here at this place but overall it is a great tourist attraction and definitely an iconic landmark for Kuala Lumpur or Malaysia in general.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Burleigh Heads - health, fitness and surfing

 Burleigh Heads is situated halfway between Coolangatta Airport and Gold Coast. Mainly famous for it's surf conditions (which attracts all levels of surfers to the area) it is starting to grow in popularity due to it's location and increasing devotion to health and fitness centred lifestyles. Families, couples and solo travellers flock here for the near nightly free events at the Burleigh Heads Surf Club and the pristine beaches that are never as packed as Surfers Paradise.

Also, as it is only a 10-15 minute ride to the Gold Coast tourists can easily access the lively nightlife that is Surfers or get away from the havoc and relax in peace in Burleigh. The Gold Coast Highway is always in an easy walking distance so getting a bus in either direction is effortless. The buses run very frequently and hit all major tourist attractions.

The one thing I did notice as soon as I arrived was just how active people were. From five in the morning right into the evening there were people of all ages either running, walking, working out on the fitness equipments provided by the government or MILFs practicing group yoga on the beachside as their young ones amused themselves on the playground nearby. Also, every fifth or so restaurant I walked past was an organic, health-food or paleo store. They even had an amazing farmers market held in their local school grounds that sold a variety fruit, vegetables, meat, takeaways plus arts and crafts. Don't think that this place is super hippy with angry vegans running amok, but a town full of locals that are conscious about staying healthy and wanting to live a long, awesome life. Because of this, it has produced a very calm, relaxed vibe - perfect for a relaxing retreat from the real world or a cure to a hard night of club hopping in Surfers Paradise.

Burleigh Heads is definitely the place to be next time you are in Queensland. Just pack your paddle board, running shoes, some acai berries and coconut water and you'll be one of the locals in no time!

View from the top of Burleigh Heads National Park

View from Burleigh Heads Surf Club to Surfers Paradise

View from Solnamara Beachfront Apartments

Burleigh Head bugs