Saturday, September 3, 2016

Meetup in Chinatown

After dropping off our things at a small hotel in Chinatown, Syria and I walked to the central market where we met Tony Yap and Yee Yoke Chuan ("Yee2"), members of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor caving group. Tony and Yee live north of the city, and let us know that they didn't often travel to Chinatown (in the "old Kuala Lumpur" or "old KL" region of the city) because it was too tourist-y (I had chosen this spot only because of the incredible selection of food I'd enjoyed last time I was in KL, but let's face it, you can't walk a block without hitting incredible mouth-watering deliciousness in Malaysia). Anyhow, Tony and Yee took us to one of their favorite Chinese restaurants down the street, where we were met by two other MNS cave group members, Yee Chun Wah ("Yee1") and Teh Tiong Viz. Here we had dinner and discussed plans for the rest of the west Malaysia expedition.

initial meeting in Chinatown, KL
from left to right: Teh, Yee1, Tony, Yee2, and Stacy

As members of the MNS cave group are all volunteers and are members of a caving club simply because they enjoy caving and exploring, we needed to schedule our excursion days off-days when the members were free from their professional (or family) commitments. We decided the next day (Sunday) to just visit a few caves nearby, in the Batu limestone outcrop just a short drive north of KL (a famous tourist spot for Batu "Temple Cave"-- a Hundu temple and shrine). At the end of the following week we would all meet back in KL (also at that time joined by Prof. Xianfeng Wang and his lab technician Yanbin Lu from the Earth Observatory of Singapore), and then drive out to Merapoh Friday evening (~3-4 hours depending on the traffic) for our first field expedition site. Friday evening would be the start of a national holiday weekend in Malaysia comparable in scope to the Christmas holiday in the US: Monday Sep. 12 was Hari Raya Haji, the local Malaysian name for the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, "the Feast of Sacrifice", which commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. We therefore planned to depart from KL as early as possible, before rush-hour traffic. Following our expedition in Merapoh, we would then drive west across the Cameron Highlands to Ipoh on Sunday for further exploring through national holiday Monday, before returning back to KL. 

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