This was not supposed to be an ordeal. Before I left a friend had said she wanted to make it to the Butterfly Park but didn’t. That sealed it. I had to go. Plus, butterflies. On the map it showed that the Butterfly Park was in proximity to the Central Market (a must see) and Chinatown (a would be nice if there’s time.) I consulted with the waiter at breakfast who said the train would be the easiest way to go. I like public transportation. I figured out trains in Seoul and Paris. How hard could it be?
Well, that’s another story.
I went to the concierge asking for a train map and directions. She pulled out a tourist map and did a full spiel on what to see in KL, including how to get to the Butterfly Park, or at least to the nearest subway stop. The long way at least. I got off at the station and asked the first security guard I spotted for directions. He looked surprised that I planned to walk, but I assumed that was because he thought I was the average soul who doesn’t walk further than to closest parking spot to the mall. I should have realized he was factoring the relative humidity with the distance and the mountain he knew I would be climbing. Regardless, he gave me directions thusly. “Go around the front of the building to light turn right” said while gesturing with left hand. “You will pass Merdeka Park and you will see the police station. You will see it on left ” making a right hand gesture. I repeated the directions with the words that matched the gestures. He said yes. I set off.
Two blocks from the train station I came to a huge intersection with a broken walk signal. I figured out it was broken after I waited for a complete cycle. I consulted my map, jaywalked through traffic and set off in what looked like the right direction. And I walked. And I walked. A nice little park with a cool fountain appeared on the right so I crossed the street to have a sit down and consult my map. Lucky me, I had found Merdeka Park. Cooled and confident I was headed in roughly the right direction I set off again. And I walked. And I walked (losing confidence all the time.) Dehydrating by the moment and fearing I was going to end up so hopelessly lost that I was going to miss my flight in four days, I stopped at a little kiosk for some water and a few directions. “Keep going straight on this road. At the National Mosque turn right” (accompanied by right hand gesture). “Follow that road to the end and turn left” (accompanied by left hand gesture.) “All parks right there. Butterfly Park, Orchid Park, Deer Park. You want cold water or not cold?” I went for the not cold because it was going to be warm in about five minutes anyway and set off again.
I spotted the mosque roof through the trees. There was a road to my right lined with Easy-Up tents, no parking signs and parked cars, trucks and vans. The lure of that was took much to pass up. Plus, I had to be close to the park by now. I’d been walking about 45 minutes and it just didn’t look that far on the map. The road was jammed shoulder to shoulder and down the middle with people selling food, people selling perfume, people selling sandals, people selling prayer rugs…. About then it dawned on me that it was Friday, the Muslim equivalent of Sunday, and I was near the National Mosque. Doh. I headed up and through all the retail until I came to an intersection where I found my first sign pointing to the butterfly park. I wouldn’t call what the road did ending, and neither did the map, but it did kinda peter out in one direction.
Sensing my destination was near, I walked another ten minutes in the soupy heat to get to the butterfly park, which was hotter and soupier due to the rainforest conditions needed for the butterflies.
Totally worth it.
After leaving the park, I decided to walk to the Central Market. You know where this is going, don’t you? I trekked down the hill, through the throngs and realized at the bottom of the road that I had no clue where to go from there. I flagged down three women who, with much consulting and discussion over who had the most English, decided to just lead me most of the way. They stopped within sight of my turn and told me I would be going through a building and over a bridge and I would be there. K. On the corner where I needed to turn there happened to be a textile museum so I stopped in there for about an hour. The exhibits were interesting. The opportunity to take my hair out of its ponytail so the sweat could dry was priceless.
Heading off again, I found a bridge and crossed it. Then I walked along for a while, peeking down side streets because the best stuff is down side streets. And then I saw it. This huge covered, closed street.
I went through a building, but not the one she told me, so I’m assuming it’s right next to the police station. The Central Market was less than it was cracked up to be. Fascinating that it’s been going since 1888 and all, but to me it was just another flea market. I did stop for lunch there. The food court hosted one place called Western Food, which served “spaghete beef meatball”, that I swear was covered in gravy. I went for the Thai food. Note to self, if the Thai restaurant doesn’t have pad Thai on the menu, you’ll be getting Chinese. I ate my Chinese Thai food, considered whether my legs would take the walk to Chinatown, decided against and headed outside to, guess what, rain.