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If there’s anyone out there still checking the site for updates, I’m sorry, you’ve been wasting your time these last few weeks. What have I been up to? Ah, not too much – this and that.

Here we have one of the Batu Caves' locals (and probably one of my best pictures I'll ever take)....

So, really, what have I been doing? Well, since I wrote last time, things have been pretty much all over the place, to the point where I’ve hardly any idea what I’m doing myself half the time; this weekend for example, I’m flying north to Thailand, to the island of Phuket for a relaxing long weekend (not actually that long, flying Thursday night, arriving back to KL on Sunday late night, in time for work early the next morning), while last week I was standing at our booth at the iGEM green technology exhibition, coming across all sorts of local dignitaries from Ministers, to His Majesty the King of Malaysia, to the Prime Minister himself. Since I wrote last in fact, I don’t think there’s actually really been a quiet time to speak of – work’s busy, no doubt, but we’ve still tried our hardest to find time to get out and do things whenever we can. Alas, I still haven’t found time to make it to the elephant sanctuary (which by all accounts sounds like one of the most pleasant day trips), but we did find time, a few weeks ago, to head out to the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are something I had, for no apparent reason, absolutely no interest in visiting the first time I was out here travelling – but when you’re living here, things become a bit different when there’s time to play with. So, just for the laugh, we braved another trip on the KTM Komuter, mentally preparing ourselves for its love of being late and travelling slightly slower than an ageing pensioner trying to cross a busy road. We were greatly surprised to find that we actually arrived at the caves not too many lifetimes after we’d left KL Sentral.

The inside of the caves...minus tacky souvenir shops...

Now, first things first; the caves are not something to bring an actual ageing pensioner along to. There’s what feels like an absolute eternity of steps up into the caves, while local ‘retailers’ try and sell you some souvenir tat every opportunity they can. In fact, even when we got to the top of the steps, the first thing I saw looking down into the caves was a little portacabin stocking all sorts of junk, neatly decorated in a whole city’s worth of neon lighting. On the other side of the steps, you can walk down into the caves properly, all of which has been generously concreted and floodlit throughout, which sort of gives you the feeling you’re walking through a primitive entrance to the old Landsdowne stadium or something. Inside there’s all sorts of shrines and little temples and an absolute abundance (on the day we visited anyway) of overweight Western visitors who took me by great surprise at having made it up the steps without all needing a coronary bypass. If you can, and it is difficult, ignore the absolute tack that people have sort of turned the caves into, then it’s actually a pretty cool place – it’s quite natural, it’s packed full of monkeys (as pictured) and everything looks a bit primitive…until your eyes find the next neon sign that is. But a daytrip it certainly isn’t and it wasn’t long before we were sitting back on the KTM Komuter preparing to while away another chunk of our lives trying to get back to KL.

Here's the front garden...aka, Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve...

Another day, we went to visit the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, which is quite conveniently located out the front gate of our condo. Now, here’s the thing – our condo is a snazzy (or rather, it was, back in the day) downtown affair, and snazzy downtown affairs show off by having ‘facilities’ (and we do have a pool, a gym, and a fair bit of other stuff I don’t use) and ‘space’, and nothing says ‘look how much space we have, you all suck’ like an entrance driveway that goes on for a good kilometre from the nearest main road. The only problem, and it is a bit of a major one for me, is that I don’t have a car so I never have and probably will never again use the main driveway – I, instead, use a little pedestrian gate behind the car park (that takes a minute to get to from the lift, not 20 minutes like the front gate) that looks like something straight out of dodge central since it more or less dumps me out right in the absolute centre of town opposite the local projects – i.e. a small corrugated-metal shack that countless impoverished locals live in. I’m always quite surprised none of them wait by the gate and mug us as we come in and out, because it appears anyway that our guards excel in being exceptionally lazy. Anyway, moving back on-topic, we walked the lengthy driveway (which is sort of like a ‘snazzy condo tributary’ since other driveways from other snazzy condo’s join up with ours along the way to the main road), by which stage I was already sweating it out, only to find that the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, while being just across the main road, begins with about five minutes worth of steps. By the time we made it into the forest reserve properly, we both looked like we’d just taken a shower in our clothes – it wasn’t a pretty sight.

An empty plate accompanied by something I hate to see...a bill...

Don’t get me wrong – very few people I know anywhere else can say ‘oh my back gate leads me right into the city centre, while my front gate is just opposite a forest reserve’…but why so many steps? Either way, we wandered around for a while once we finally regained our composure slightly – and no doubt, it definitely is something to have a look at. Meanwhile, my ‘food quest’ continues; to be honest, while I love the food here, I have two main requirements if you will, with regard to getting my daily sustenance – the first is, it must be cheap. We seem to have this sorted by alternating between places every night, one night going to the Pavilion (KL’s ridiculously upmarket shopping centre) and getting something from the food court, maybe cooking at home another night (not as cheap as I’d like it to be) or going to SK Corner (what can only be described as an institution, in terms of getting a complete vegetarian buffet for about €1). The second, which is becoming more of a serious requirement as time goes by, is to get some proper meat by itself. In Ireland, I don’t know why (and no offense to vegetarians all over the world), but I always consider the vegetables/potatoes/whatever else you get with your meal sort of ‘accessory’ to the steak/lamb/etc – the problem is, over here, it seems to be the other way around and meat products are actually quite expensive. All I can say is, I’m working on it.

In the meantime though, I’m dying to get to bed and you never know, I might even surprise everyone by getting a second post out before I head to Thailand…

Don’t hold your breath though…

Reformed backpacker & former ultra-cheap traveller, Andy now atones for his past by overspending on premium travel experiences and failing at making the most of the miles & points game. Based in Malaysia, he is a product manager by day, and travel aficionado by evening and weekend.