City birds and country birds

Every time we leave our apartment block, we glance at the Roman Catholic Church, St Anthony’s, just over the road.

A few times, we’ve heard its bells being tolled at about the same time as the nearby muezzin calls his people to prayer. I don’t know whether there’s an unofficial competition going on here.

It’s a cute little church but it would look so much better without that eyesore in the background.

St Anthony’s from the street

Being Sunday, Mass would take place later. Meanwhile, outside, a group of Indian ladies had set up a stall. What they were selling, we’ll never know, as our Grab cab arrived very quickly.

The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is the largest walk-in, free-flying aviary in Malaysia, maybe even in the world. The aviary doesn’t fly freely, but most of the birds inside do.

Green parrot

It was quite nice seeing a stork walk on by. Then another. Then a few more. By the time we were surrounded by dozens, it was quite intimidating, like being chased by those velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

Yellow-billed stork

The owls were all just sitting there. We’re not sure if they’d been tied to the perches somehow, but it was sad to see that not a single one was even shuffling from side to side.

White heron

The scarlet ibis was a suitably vibrant red colour. It certainly made up for the slightly pasty looking flamingoes.

Scarlet ibis

The poor old galahs weren’t allowed freedom of movement. This chap was pleading to be let out, but there was nothing we could do.

Pink and grey galah

I think we saw a significant number of the advertised two hundred bird species here but while the free-flight enclosure was indeed large, we still felt sorry for the birds that wanted to really stretch their wings. And especially for the caged birds.

Laurel and Hardy of storks

It was a pleasant walk, hot and sunny, and the place was very popular today.

Selfie of the day

A short taxi ride away is Central Market, a bit like Camden Market only bigger, indoors and partially air-conditioned. While Liesel was actually looking at the stalls, I went on a faster walk, to get some steps in and to find an ATM. I passed through Little China, Little India and Little Kashmir, all within the Market.

When I caught up with Liesel, she was on the upper floor looking at most, if not all, of the batik stalls. Or, as some were named, Batik Butik.

The birds this morning had been very colourful, certainly, but some of the batik offerings came a close second in bright colours.

Beautiful batik fabric
Just like our cushions at home

It was hard to resist everything, so we left the market with a bag of batik. The cushion cover shown above will, one day, adorn our luxury apartment for real.

We stopped for a snack and I asked for a cendol. Something that’s been on the ‘to-do’ list since we arrived in Singapore. A mix of coconut, ice, green worms and beans. A local delicacy.

Cendol, a once-in-a-lifetime dessert

It was alright, nothing special, and this bowlful was probably too much, to be honest. Still, it’s another first for me.

We walked down the road to Masjid Jamek.

The Mosque in the 1950s

We didn’t actually travel several decades back in time, I just copied the picture from the local information board. The mosque welcomes visitors but you have to wear an all-enveloping purple garment to cover your hair, shoulders and other bodily parts. So, from a distance, you can play ‘spot the visitor’.

It’s a cute little mosque but it would look so much better without that eyesore in the background.

Jamek Mosque

We carried on walking towards home, somehow shrugging off the discomfort of the heat because this was our final day here in KL.

What’s the story, Balamory?

The birds were colourful, the batik was colourful but some of the street art provides stiff competition. Not just these doors, but a lovely mural close by.

Mural of the day

Jalan Petaling is the heart of KL’s Chinatown. Where old meets new.

Welcome to Chinatown

Central Market was busy, but the alleyways in Chinatown were thronging with throngs of people. It was hard to make progress, sometimes. Again, we looked but did not touch. Or buy.

Busy busy

We found our way back home and I went up to the top of our tower, floor 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything. From here, I could look down on St Anthony’s Church.

St Anthony’s from the roof

Bakti Woodlands was the venue for our evening meal, another relatively short walk. The meal was good, but as often happens, one of the ordered items didn’t show up. Just as well, in this case, because we had plenty to eat.

As we were walking home again, Liesel felt a splat on her back. I had to check it wasn’t guano of any sort, but it was just a drop of water. It probably dripped from an air-conditioning unit, I suggested. Hah.

KL Tower looking good at night

We got caught out in the heaviest, most torrential rainstorm, ever, thunder, lightning, raindrops as big as peas.

If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads

Making good use of shops’ porches, bus shelters, the overhead railway, the pedestrian road crossing and the creativity (not shopping) mall, we made it home without getting too wet. The worst place was crossing a road where the water was running fast and was already an inch deep. But my feet needed a wash anyway, so not a big deal, really

Every time we go into the bathroom of our apartment, we are reminded that we are loved. Which is nice.

You are loved, gentle reader

We left Kuala Lumpur as we arrived, dragging our bags into Jamaica Blue, this time for breakfast.

Wan han wash de oda

Another Jamaican proverb that we came all the way to Malaysia to discover.

The cab ride to Stephen’s Place in Fraser’s Hill took two hours.

On the way, the driver stopped to refuel the car. He left the engine running. Liesel and I said our final farewells to each other and to planet Earth, exchanged thanks for all the fun and wondered who would claim on the life insurance. But, the car didn’t explode into a ball of flame after all and we’re still here.

Apparently, Malaysians all leave the engine running while fueling their cars. They don’t all light up cigarettes though. Which is nice.

The phone wires dangle from posts by the side of the long and winding road up to Fraser’s Hill. The posts are wooden, rotting, keeling over and at least one tree has fallen onto the wires. Someone, somewhere, will be cut off from the world sooner or later.

We passed by a trio of dogs having a nap by the side of the road. Round the corner, we passed by a reservoir. Hmm, there’s a movie there somewhere, I thought.

There were a few pretty temples too, but most of the buildings we saw on the road outside of the city were just utilitarian and often dilapidated.

When we arrived at our destination, we invited the driver to collect us from here at 8.00am in two days’ time, he politely declined, despite my best attempts at bribery. Mind you, he had been shaking with fear as the road ascended, became narrower and narrower and more twisty. The final straw, I think, was when he momentarily lost the GPS signal.

Fortunately, our host, Stephen (we’re staying at his Place) knows a Canadian man who will take us back for suitable remuneration.

We’re only in Fraser’s Hill for one whole day and already we knew that wasn’t going to be long enough.

Big bug, small finger

I gave this bug the finger to demonstrate its unnatural size. It’s a huge bug, a longhorn beetle.

So is there anything about Stephen’s place that bugs me? The bugs don’t bug me. Yes. We heard a knocking sound, Liesel asked what it was, I said, I don’t know. Then I got a whiff. Actually, I said, yes, I do know. It’s one of those machines that squirts stinky chemicals into the air every now and then, presumably to hide the other smells in the room. Can you turn it off? I’ll have a go, said I. I took it into the bathroom, pressed the wrong button, squirted the stinky stinky fluid all over my hand, swore and eventually found the off switch. I’ll turn it back on before we leave.

Liesel at home in Stephen’s Place

Stephen’s Place is a 1930s colonial style bungalow. It’s surrounded by gardens, lots of flowers and orchids, an egg-laying chicken which is kept company by a couple of very vocal geese.

Our evening meal was delicious, homecooked rice, egg, meat-substitute chicken but very tasty, and for dessert, sago, which I haven’t had for years. All made by Samiah, Stephen’s wife, possible helped by one of the maids-in-training.

Afterwards, we went for a quick walk, fully aware of the rapidly setting Sun.

Real but skeletal tree

We walked along the road knowing there would be little to no traffic, enjoying nature, all the trees and bushes, the sounds of the local fauna and then…

Telecom tower in the bushes

It makes sense to put a phone mast at the top of a hill, but it was still a bit of a shock to actually see it!

The bush was quite dense but we did catch a decent view now and then. We were also keeping an eye on the grey skies and an ear on the rumbling thunder that seemed to be getting closer.

View into the valley and towards the storm

There were no bus shelters or shops here to hide under if the storm came our way. But it didn’t. We did however see the rare sight of a rainbow just as the Sun dipped its toes below the horizon.

There’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head

As we walked down the road, we were buzzed by a barrage of plume-toed swiftlets. We mistakenly thought they were swallows, but Stephen put us right. So named because they grow a feather on the middle toe of each foot. I know, sounds like a lie to tell tourists, right? Inside an old garage, just below the bungalow, there are about 150 nests, so about 300 birds, with chicks, making a lot of noise, flying in and out with remarkable dexterity. The garage hasn’t been used as an automobile storage facility since the 1930s, thanks to the birds, which nest two or three times a year. Harmless to us, I know, but when you can feel the draft as they fly by, you can’t help but flinch a bit.

A garage full of swiftlets

Author: mickandlieselsantics

We are a married couple, married to each other, one American, one Brit, one male, one female, neither of us as fit as we would like to be, over 109 years old altogether.

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