Sunday, 3 January 2016

Out and About with friends from Hyderabad

One of the perks of owning my own home and being single is that I get to entertain friends as often as I want to, and can have guests to stay without any inconvenience to myself or my guests.

I was thrilled when my old friend Jayasimha, who I met at the Asia for Animals Conference in Chengdu in 2011, informed me that he intended to visit Peninsular Malaysia with his family around Christmas, and I immediately offered them a place to stay.

The best thing about having guests from abroad is that you get to see your own country and city through different and new eyes all over again. Playing host and tour guide to Jayasimha, Divya and 3-year-old Vedanth gave me great pleasure. They arrived on Boxing Day and we visited my favourite places in the Klang Valley for 3 days. They left for Puteri Harbour and Legoland in Johor on Day 4, after which I returned to work.

Katniss has a new best friend. I don't think she wants to let Vedanth go home to Hyderabad now.

First stop: Batu Caves!

The interior of the main cave was under construction :( Most disappointing! They should leave it as natural as possible. Tourists and devotees are not here to see a built-up temple and painted cave walls)

Cool wind coming in from the openings of the cave.

Taking a break on the temple steps. 

The story of Muruga and Ganesha. I love it that Little Ganesha has a Little Mushika with him.(Unfortunately partly cropped out of the picture in my haste).

Beneath the idol of Muruga with his peacock.

At the Dark Caves run by the Malaysian Nature Society

Second stop: Volunteering with Reach Out Malaysia and then stopping by Central Market to see arts and crafts.

My guests joined in to help with the distribution :) Divya was put in charge of the apples and Jayasimha and Divya got to experience volunteering with the homeless and urban poor on their first day in KL.

With apples, cakes and chips sponsored by Aravind, ZiKi, Mark, Nicole and me.

Once we were done with the distribution (which Jayasimha was quite impressed with due to the speed and efficiency of the Reach Out team and the discipline of our homeless clients), we went to Central Market to look at arts and crafts and souvenirs.

Tasting rambutan for the first time :)

And of course this had to happen later that night since I live 10 minutes away from Ikea!

Vedanth got to ride the Postman Pat van when we made a 'quick stop' at Daiso near my apartment the following morning. Everyone knows that Daiso is a time machine -- you plan to get in and out within 10 minutes and end up lost in there for hours.

We went to my favourite restaurant, Vegelife, for lunch. Jayasimha is an adventurous eater and loved the Hakka green tea rice.

We arrived in Kuala Selangor 5 minutes after the last tram and were very disappointed when they would not sell us any more tickets. We pleaded with and cajoled the nice council worker and tram driver and asked Vedanth to give them his saddest face and they finally relented and made a special trip just for us! I gave them a nice tip for being so obliging.

The tram took us to the top of Bukit Malawati and stopped there for a little while so we could enjoy the sunset.

Taking the tram back down the hill and through the town. So glad the rain stopped long enough and the driver was so kind as to go out of his way for us.

Taking Vedanth to say Thank You to the nice Tram Driver Uncle and Council Officer Uncle for taking us on a tram ride after official business hours.

And we drove back up the hill in my car to meet the gentle friendly silver leaf monkeys of Bukit Malawati. Here is a mother with her youngster whose fur is still golden and has not moulted.

Vedanth meets the gentle friendly silver leaf monkeys under my close supervision (since he is braver than Appa and wanted to meet the monkeys so much!)

Vedanth has many interesting things to say to the gentle friendly silver leaf monkeys. "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me! Would you like a nice banana? Or a nice slice of potato?" 
I foresee a successful career in Marketing for Vedanth.

And once again the Universe conspired to make good things happen for us! There was distant lightning in the sky as we left Kuala Selangor Nature Park and I was afraid it would rain before we got to see the fireflies. But the weather held up and we got there and purchased our tickets and were in a rowboat within minutes. And we got to see the famous synchronous congregating fireflies of Sungai Selangor. 
Well, it's like the 7th time for me of course, but the first time for my dear friends and they were delighted.
It rained like crazy on the drive home.
Thank you, Universe, for holding on to the rain clouds until we got off the boat.

The jetty from a distance taken from our little rowboat.

My friends left in their rented car for Johor on Day 4 but not before leaving me with a feast of vegan goodies from their home city.

Vegan sweets from Hyderabad! I'm not sharing! I'm not sharing!
Well, okay maybe I will but we must cut them into leeeetle-leeeetle pieces so we can try all the different ones.

I trust my friends enjoyed their stay with me as much as I enjoyed hosting them! Please come again soon, Jayasimha, Divya and Vedanth, and tell your friends and family that Malaysia is a nice country with nice people!

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