Thursday, April 22, 2010


Note: Pictures are borrowed from various places on the internet. I'll explain later.

I was so confused for a bit about what was Malaysian. In my first 4 hours in Malaysia I'd wandered through Chinatown and Little India and had no idea what a Malaysian looked like, what exactly Malaysian food was, etc. I guess this is part of the beauty of Malaysia. Many cultures and ethnicities living together harmoniously (at least now, history has record of the unfriendly times).

There were mosques and temples abound of Islamic, Hindu, and Muslim faiths. My favorite the Batu Caves. A bit of a jaunt outside of Kuala Lumpur, but worth it. It's teeming with little macaque monkeys that I thought were so cute at first. On the way up the stairs though I watched the little buggers steal a lunch bag out the hands of a girl I met on the bus. They're aggressive and sneaky little buggers. After making your way up the steps you arrive in a cavernous limestone cave with light pouring in from the opening on the other end. Lots of shrines adorn the cave and there are two areas for prayer and offerings.

The Hindu shrine at the entrance to the Batu Caves

Inside the Batu Cave

While in Malaysia I also spent some time in the Cameron Highlands which were a bit more temperate than the sweaty heat of Kuala Lumpur and its surrounds. Did a good jungle tour, visited a tea plantation, strawberry fields, waterfalls, and an Orang Asli (aboriginals of Malaysia) home where the use of a blowdart was demonstrated and a bit of dancing and drumming was done. The main Orang Asli looked a bit like a washed up Mowgli as he pet his monkey (tied to a post with rags) with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth.

The Tea Plantation was cool. As you travel through the highlands you see fields and fields of tea so it was neat to learn a bit about it. Every 3 weeks they trim the plants. By hand on steep slopes and with a machine on gentler slopes. They then allow the tea to wilt a little to remove excess moisture. To promote oxidization they then bruise the tea using these rollers that press the leaves. Next up is more oxidization in a climate controlled area. The amount of oxidization allowed affects the flavor and quality of the tea. To stop the oxidization at the desired time they put the tea through a firing. After all this is done they shape the tea, dry it, sift it, and then it's ready for packaging...or steeping.

Tea fields in the Cameron Highlands