To the Bat(u) Cave(s)!

The Batu Caves are natural limestone caves right outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It happens to be the most popular Hindu shrine outside of India (and for various fees, you can see several other caves, galleries and gardens!). The Cathedral Cave (or Temple Cave) can be reached only by climbing 272 steep concrete steps. According to wikipedia, some Indian trader named Pillai liked how the cave was shaped and decided to make it a shrine. I don’t say this disrespectfully, but just walking around in the cave, the whole place felt a bit–haphazard and commercial.

I know that a 140 ft tall statue of Lord Muruga that took three years to make doesn’t come cheap. The annual Thaipusam festival occurs here, attracting Hindus from all over the world. The fact that the train station entrance is right at the gates of the shrine, the fact that statues seemed to piled in random corners of the cave, the amount of trash and graffiti in evidence… I didn’t feel like I was in a place of worship.

All that being said, parts of it were very beautiful, for the art of the shrine and for nature. I played the tourist and took a lot of pictures. Although that’s another thing to mention–I’m usually very hesitant to take pictures of places of worship. I’m not particularly religious myself, but as places of worship usually come with worshipers, I try to be respectful and not treat their deeply held beliefs as my next photo op. I don’t remember seeing any worshipers at the cave and I took pictures ad naseum.

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The Nerve!

On the KTM Komuter train line to the caves, there is a “women only car”. Every transparent surface surface has a type of pink sticker on it, admonishing each potential train-goer in English and what I assume is Malay that this car is for WOMEN ONLY.

See? REALLY obvious

So when a man wandered in and began to read the paper, I was a little confused. Obviously, he was literate, so he could read the signs (although, as you can see, they’re pretty damn clear even if you couldn’t read). One of the cops riding in the car came over and told him to switch cars at the next stop. They even told a little boy traveling alone to go (i think if he was with his mother, he could have stayed).

Train police are not always in the car though, as evidenced by my return journey, when I found out that an unspoken rule trumps each and every pink sign.

No cops = man in the car.