I’ve traveled to Kuala Lumpur to attend a business conference twice, once in 2009 and again in 2012. The city is one of those exploding cities of southeast Asia. A lot of new commerce, a lot of young folk getting into computers. Impressive buildings and malls with interesting food courts, and a metro system.
So a modern city, but exotic to me because I do not speak their language, I am not familiar with their mannerisms, and the heat and humidity sprout jungle everywhere. Jungle that wants to take back the land, and one day, I suppose it will.
After the conference in 2012 a group of us from Rocket Software hired a tour bus and visited the Batu Caves, a kind of natural cathedral of limestone, with spooky openings to the sky, and Hindu temples inside and out along with somewhat aggressive monkeys that will steal anything from your hand hoping they can eat it.
After our visit to the caves, we headed to the elephant sanctuary, where we fed elephants, rode on elephants and bathed with elephants. They are monstrous beasts, that could so easily kill you, so it is a bit unnerving to be touching them, climbing on them, wading in the river with them.
From there we went to a monkey sanctuary on the top of a small mountain, where whole families of monkeys seemed to be in control of the tourists, though with much infighting and jealousy. The parents were gray-black with long tails, the babies orange. I was walking around when an adult monkey tapped my shin gently. I looked down. He tapped again, a little harder. Ah! I had stepped on his tail – was in fact still standing on his tail. I quickly stepped back and apologized. They have such almost-human expressions, though intense brown-orange eyes. And sharp little teeth.
Our final stop, after dinner by the river, was a magical night rowboat tour of the Kuala Selangor firefly colonies, the largest colonies of fireflies in the world. They gather in trees along the river and blink in rhythm, like stars in a far dark heaven. The river trip felt both romantic and mystical. Especially when the boatman stopped paddling, and we coasted, in awe of the spectacle, my heart syncing to the rhythm of the flashing lights.