My arrival in Kuala Lumpur was marked by excruciating stomach pain and utterly shameful trips to the bathroom in our hotel suite made of paper that Shane’s family of 5 and I were sharing. Every time I ran to the bathroom, the volume on the TV seemed to increase (it’s the little things in life, really). I had managed to obtain food poisoning, as I have a talent for finding every time I go on vacation. Whenever one gets food poisoning, they engage in the detective process of reviewing their meals of the day and speculate as to the most un-delicious thing that they ate, and that’s what it was from. Chicken nuggets in Carson City, Nevada; hamburgers in Monterey Bay, California; Soup in Pheonix Oregon. My family took a lot of road trips. I had eaten one particular kind of very un-delicious food all day, so the culprit was easy to single out: vegetarian airline meals. Although, I doubt there’s much of a difference between the regular and vegetarian meals besides the absence of grey or beige mystery cutlets. There’s still gravy like substance all over your food, and you’re supposed to believe that somehow plants make that goo. To further support my suspicions, no matter what the meal is, it always has the same smell, it doesn’t matter if you ordered vegetarian, chicken, or beef, it all smells like sterile, overcooked, soggy bell peppers and the color grey-brown-taupe.
The next morning sight-seeing was in order so, I recalled an old trick from middle school for when something embarrassing happens. Act like it didn’t happen. Ex: “Andrea, did you date the chubby guy on the chess team who is now openly gay?—No, no I didn’t.” So, I channeled Dora the Explorer for her unassailable enthusiastic adventurous spirit and Shane, his sister and I went to the Batu Caves and Thean Hou Buddhist temple.
Batu Caves are a series of caves that have been transformed into a Hindu Temple. There are statues and altars inside the cavernous chambers offering man made artistically painted beauty to compliment the natural beauty of the high ceiling and stalactites of the caves
The Thean Hou Temple is a Chinese Buddhist temple and was the most ornate gorgeous building that I have ever seen. The bright colors were complimented by thousands of hanging lanterns. We went right as it was about to rain so no tourists were there but we were able to observe Chinese people at the temple lighting beautiful lotus shaped candles that Martha Stewart would die for, putting incense sticks in altars and praying to the gorgeous statue of Buddha, surrounded by candles, flowers and golden spun decorations.
The next day we went to the Petronas Towers which were the largest sky scrapers in the world in 2004 and were pretty impressive.
Aside from the beautiful displays of religious buildings, the city of Kuala Lumpur is like a cleaner, more efficient version of LA with a great subway system. Its diversity of Indian, Chinese, and of course Malaysian populations all living together and mostly speaking English made it feel a little like home.