Monday, April 1, 2013

Exploring Batu Caves With Lokhman

^ "You shall not pass. Unless you want to get really sweaty."

^ Oh sure, she's made out of stone but she gets an umbrella for a bit of shade. Wish I'd thought of that. 

^ Alright. The views from the top are stupendous and worth the hike. Probably. 

^ Those stairs look just as intimidating from the top as they did at the bottom.

^ This was my favorite man-made feature of the caves. 

^ My camera-happy companion, the always-cool Lokhman.

^ You, monkey, are creepy and much too bold.

^ Yes, I'm talking to you. Don't give me that over-the-shoulder trick, trying to pretend I'm actually talking to the monkey standing behind you. 

^ Back down on terra firma, Lokhman the Birdman waded right into the middle of this pigeon-filled fray. I was equally impressed by his boldness and repulsed by the strutting flock. 

^ Cascading pink flowers took my mind off my troubles. 

^ And a sweet, refreshing drink of coconut water brought me all the way back to my happy place.

One cool afternoon, my friend, Lokhman, and I went for a relaxing stroll up a short set of stairs and explored the beautiful Hindu temples in the pristine Batu Caves.

Alright, fine. That is about five big fat lies all rolled into one.

1 it was not a cool afternoon. It was a sticky, sweltering, wickedly warm afternoon. The sun beat down on us without mercy.

2. Our journey was more of an arduous, breath-robbing, killer workout than a relaxing stroll, and as usual, I had no water.

3. The steep, shallow stairs were numbered. There were 306. This was a staircase of magnitude such as I have rarely seen before.

4. Sadly, the temples were dirty, disheveled masses of manufactured ugliness. Cheap decor, wobbly railings, dusty bare bulbs on straggling electrical cords - the fixtures did precious little to inspire a religious experience.

5. The inherent beauty of the natural caves was ruined by the distraction of man-made features. Besides the tacky temples, there was garish paint on the stone steps, poorly lettered signs and notices scattered haphazardly, and worst of all, litter heaped here and there in steaming, stinking piles.

Sorry. No offense, Hindu people, but Batu Caves is not your best work.

Still, Lokhman and I had a great time hiking those stairs- such a sense of accomplishment! - and wandering around the caves. The views were outstanding, and the wild monkeys that played near the steps were captivating. We even saw a barefooted yogi, dressed in his ceremonial robes, zigzagging up the steps in the proper Hindu fashion. We took tons of pictures, then climbed back down to snap even more shots at the bottom. Finally, we wound up our visit with a cool drink of coconut water taken straight from the shell. Delicious.

Which just goes to show that with a good companion, any outing can be fun.

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For the first part of my adventure day with Lokhman, read:

Exploring Lines With Lokhman

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To find all the stories of my amazing adventures in southeast Asia, go here:

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