At the end of last year, I went to Malaysia for two weeks. When my friend and I started planning our trip, we soon realised that we better spend a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur to make the best of it. We did not only visit the city itself, though there’s a lot to see here already, we also went on some day trips. I want to show you the best options you have to escape from the city heat and see a different side of Malaysia.
1. Swim behind a waterfall
We didn’t have a clue what exactly we signed up for when we decied to join one of Primal Wilderness Experience’s tours. I wanted to abseil down a waterfall. My friend wanted to swim behind a waterfall but wasn’t too keen on heights. In the end, we agreed on the Magical River Trek because it sounded like something we would both enjoy. And we did!
Chen, the tour company’s owner, picked us up early in the morning. While teaching us more about Malaysia than I could ever remember, he drove us to the edge of the jungle where we started our hike.
The walk was uphill. Chen, doing these kind of tours daily, started walking so quickly, he was almost running. He asked us if the speed was okay and just as I was about to open my mouth to tell him it was too fast, my friend agreed that it was the perfect speed.
I should have known that not exercising would be a problem.
Nevertheless, after two hours, we made it to the waterfall. It was a stunning sight, in the middle of the jungle, with nobody there but us. And what I loved most about it was that we could swim behind the waterfall. Chen showed us how to do it. We jumped into the freezing cold water, held our breath and came up behind the curtain of water.
It was wet. And I didn’t dare bend too much behind it because I could see a fat leech sitting on the stone, waiting for me. But it was still one of my most amazing experiences in Malaysia.
On our way back, we got to swim a second time in the river. And we got soaking wet when we experienced a true rainforest shower. I can highly recommend that jungle trip. Chen was awesome and I would always book with him again.
And next time, I would take a waterproof bag for my camera because it didn’t survive the heavy rain.
2. Wash baby elephants
You will find more tour operators than you can count if you want to visit the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. Just choose one that combines the sanctuary with whatever else you want to see and make sure you have the option of bathing with the elephants. The visit was very informative, with a video explaining about environmental problems and the effect it had on elephants (basically, the palm oil plantations destroy their territory which is a huge disaster). We got to feed sugar cane to the elephants, the people working there told us about their jobs and how they helped the animals but the highlight came towards the end of our visit.
We got to wash one of the smaller elephants.
My first thought was that the creature had to get bored with so many people wanting to scrub it. But it was peaceful and seemed to enjoy itself, splashing water at us. I have never touched an elephant before. I have certainly never washed one.
Even if you don’t want to go into the river, I highly recommend the sanctuary to make everyone aware of their work.
3. Ride a boat past Kuala Selangor’s fireflies
I wish I had a picture to show you the beauty of the fireflies. But it was completely dark and while their blinking tails were amongst the most impressive things I’ve ever seen, I couldn’t capture them on film. I’ve read that the fireflies in Kuala Selangor are dying and that it’s less impressive than a couple of years ago. But it’s still a sight you shouldn’t miss. Once again, I went with a tour operator (we combined it with the elephant sanctuary).
Once in Kuala Selangor, we got seated into a boat and then drove down the river. Words can’t describe it, you’ll have to experience it yourself.
4. Get scared by a giant ostrich
Ostriches are huge. And their beak is hard and getting bitten is painful. Which is why, when we arrived at the Deerland Park, near the Elephant Sanctuary (you can combine the visits), I was excited about feeding the deer and wanted to keep away from the ostrich as far as possible. Our guide, who barely spoke English besides “feed” and “ostrich” had other plans.
He kept pushing us towards the ostrich with a bowl full of sugar cane. It was a terrifying experience.
Once we were finally done and I gave back my bowl to him, happy to never see the ostrich again, he refilled my bowl. And pushed me towards the giant bird.
That was definitely my most scary animal experience in Malaysia!
5. Get blessed by a Hindu priest in the Batu Caves
The Batu Caves are one of the main tourist attractions near Kuala Lumpur and I highly recommend going there. What made our experience unique was the priest at the far end of the cave, who wanted to give us his blessing.
It wasn’t free, of course (nothing in the world is). Once he was done, he asked for a donation. And once we gave him money, he continued, blessing us once more.
Last time I got blessed abroad, by a Buddhist monk, he hit me on the head with a wooden penis. The Hindu priest was far more civilised. There was some paint involved and then a lot of stares from the locals. We couldn’t make it down the stairs without being photographed by almost every pilgrim who had come to the caves.
If you ever come to India and see a family picture with two blond girls in the middle, that will be us.