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We only had 14 miles to get to Mama Ching's house in Petaling Jaya. This is the mother of the young woman we met in Singapore who was introduced to us by a mutual friend on the Oregon Coast. These introductions are some of the best encounters for me while traveling.
Getting out of KL isn't easy. Malaysia loves expressways and we always seemed to find ourselves on a very busy 10 lane highway. It's difficult to see on the map where the entrance to the expressways are. And then sometimes we were on an overpass looking down at the road we wanted but couldn't see how to get to it. Once, we were on an expressway seeing that the highway split and we had to ride over 3 lanes to make the turn. The craziest thing is that, at that moment, there wasn't any traffic - none. We should have had cars and trucks whizzing passed at 60+ mph - but we didn't. Amazing. Kathryn has a data plan on her 'jailbroken' iphone and we were using that to find our way. Occassionally, I would pull out the Google Nexus tablet so we could have a bigger picture to look at. The Google has GPS so we can always see where we are but I don't have a data plan so there is no way to plot a course. At one point we took shelter at a restaurant when it started raining. The Unique Seafood restaurant had hundreds of tanks of live fish where customers pick out their meal. It turns out, Unique Seafood is also one of the most expensive restaurants in KL. We went to a restaurant next door walking through a wedding party to a back room to wait out the rain. We smiled and waved as everyone stared at us in our biking clothes. Once back on the road, it took hours of wandering to find Mama Ching's in Petaling Jaya. It seemed the whole neighborhood was interested in knowing who we were. We got our bags into the house and neighbors from across the street took the trikes for a ride.
Mama Ching was a most generous hostess. The first thing we did was go to the local Village Park restaurant for lunch. I was introduced to my new favorite drink with lychee, mint and lemongrass. Next door was a famous bike shop and I had a brake cable replaced and my derailleur adjusted. We also met a man, Stanley, who introduced us to the Malaysian Bicycle Touring Network on Facebook where cyclists post routes. He also told us where to find the local Garmin store. At the Garmin store I discovered both my sd card maps of SE Asia and China were bad. No wonder I hadn't been able to get the map to come up. Uuugghh! These maps originally cost me over $200. The store downloaded new maps of SE Asia and China for $50. I was back in business.
Mama Ching took us all around KL. It seemed that every tourist attraction was another reason to eat. We ate fabulous local foods. Most of our stops were to open air markets and food stalls. I don't think we ever ate at a place that had a door. She took us down 'scary alley' for incredible noodles and veggies. I think it was somewhat hard for her because we didn't want to eat meat. It is difficult to find food without any meat in Malaysia. Most of the sauces and broths are made with pork or chicken. We ate it all gratefully and enjoyed every bite.
One of Mama Ching's brothers was moving into a new house and we went with the whole family to 'bless' it. Since the house has been empty for awhile they threw rice, tea and salt all over the floor to chase away any spirits that may have moved in. A big Chinese red banner was hoisted over the front door and, of course, we ate from a buffet of foods that the family brought over. And then, we went out for lunch. Kathryn and I couldn't believe we were eating again. We were exploding with fullness but the food was so good we ate anyway.
Mama Ching took us to Batu Cave in the hills above KL. This is an important Hindu pilgramage site. There is a huge golden statue of Lord Murugan at the bottom of the 272 steps to the caves. Inside the cave is a temple and we watched a religious ceremony with lots of bell ringing and intoxicating chanting.
We also went out to Kuala Selangor on the coast to see some special fireflies. We took a boat out on a river where hundreds of thousands of fireflies live in the berembang tree. There were only 5 of us in a boat. We were asked to be silent and not take any pictures. There were so many fireflies the trees looked like crazy christmas decorations. The boat went so close to the trees we could actually see the flies flying with lights trailing. I know it was a long drive for Mama Ching and we really enjoyed the whole experience.
This visit with Mama Ching was very special. She was amazingly generous and her home was very comfortable. We did more in 2 days than we would have in 10 days on the trikes. I think we ate as much as well. After 3 nights it was time to roll on down the road.
Petaling Jaya with Mama Ching
Edwin replacing a 'dry' brake cable. Very nice shop.
Unique Seafood Restaurant with tanks of live fish.
Mama Ching's neighbor taking Myrtle for a spin.
Blaze and Myrtle had an exceptionally comfortable stay at Mama Ching's.
Wonderful dinner down 'scary alley'.