Kota Bahru, Malaysia
6° 7' N 102° 15' E
May 31, 2006 06:09
Distance 59km

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Text written in: English

Lindsay's Solo Adventures...

    Lindsay here, sorry to those of you looking for a Hannah/Emily update... you're not going to get it here! So faced with a week of time to kill in a relatively small country where we had already seen, or were planning on seeing, most of the major sights I had to decide where exactly I was going to go... I decided to spend a couple of days in Kota Bharu first... not because it was supposed to be particularly exciting, but since it was a city that I hadn't seen and was supposed to be rich in "Malay Culture". Well.... to be honest, theres really not a lot going on here. Once I got off the boat (which for Hannah and Emily's interest, was a slow boat again) I hopped in a taxi with a German couple and an English guy for the hour ride into the city. We got dropped off right in the heart of the city where there were a few backpacker hotels around... I found a  place with a single room for a decent price... its nothing special, I have no window to the outside world (making it quite easy to sleep in to the late hours of the morning), but I have my own bed, a mirror and a fan that turns my room into a bit of a wind tunnel. Plus theres a bathroom down the hall that, while the toilets don't flush, theres a hot shower.... this is like living in the lap of luxury as far as I'm concerned! The first night I just took it easy, and did a little wandering around... good to see that theres a KFC, Pizza Hut, A&W and McDonald's all within 2 blocks of eachother.... sure staples of Asian culture.

    The next day I decided to do a little exploring... this is interesting to do on my own since with no one else around to distract me from the staring and cat-calling from all the Malay men its a little daunting. Rest assured I held my head high and walked like I knew where I was going, praying to not get lost. (and if another man makes kissy noises at me I might seriously give him a piece of my mind) I found a newspaper and had a quiet breakfast, then decided to check out the museum area. I paid the 2 ringgit to enter the Royal Museum which used to be a residence of some part of the Malaysian royal family in the 60's and 70's (still not exactly sure what part of the family lived there, its all rather poorly marked and a little confusing)... it was funny because the house was set up like there were still people living there... and I couldn't wear my shoes inside, so it was really like walking around someone's really nice house... except with rope barriers and sign cards everywhere. I think I was the only tourist in the whole place, and the other funny part was to see the Malaysian people who worked there mysteriously popping in and out of closets and other various doors within the roped off areas.... I really wanted to see what was back there, but managed to restrain myself. Not overly thrilling, but it was something to do. I made my way to the central market next. These markets and what Asian people will eat, never ceases to amaze me.... When I first walked in I had to seriously concentrate on not falling since the floor was a flood ground of water and fish guts and other seafood associated liquids... I was sliding all over the place. I wandered around a bit, amazed at the tables upon tables of 'interesting' looking food that looked like it had been there all week, buzzing with flies, and made of who knows what, that Malay people were buying up like crazy. If theres one thing that defines Asian culture, its being way more laid back about food and cleanliness than we Westerners are... there is no way that half of the stuff that is eaten or sold here would fly at home. Oh well... theres always something to look at at least. I left the market and found an internet place for a little bit and as I was leaving the building, the sky opened up and a huge thunderstorm complete with torrential downpour began... I've never been so happy to see a McDonald's in my whole life... had an ice cream and waited out the storm with my book. Later for dinner I decided I would try the night market that Kota Bharu is famous for... it was a little daunting at first with no one else to feel like an idiot with and trying to figure out how it all worked, but I managed. There were a million little "hawker" stalls in the middle with any sort of meat on a stick, noodle dish, curry or Asian delicacy that you could imagine. I found a rice-chicken-vegetable looking thing that looked pretty delicious for 3 ringgit (a little less than a dollar) so snapped it up. Problem was she wrapped it up and put it in a plastic bag with a baggie full of soup. Well now what? There were a million tables around the outside run by separate people from the food sellers, and it turns out (I think...) you buy your food then sit at a table and buy a drink from them and they give you all the utensils and dishware that you need (if necessary since a lot of people eat with their hands from banana leaves here). I found a nice young Malay guy who poured my soup in a bowl and then the little baggied sauces for my meal into dishes for me, brought me an ice milo and left me to my own devices. The food was delicious... very juicy chicken (once I separated the joint out of it) and the sauces were quite tasty. The night market itself was very interesting... tons of tables of Malay men sitting around watching TV (yes they have satellite dishes and TVs at this outdoor market for your viewing pleasure!) and entire Malay families out for dinner. Once I knew what I was doing it was a really nice night. The most interesting thing of the day had to be the shampoo commercial I saw on TV there... again, most people here are Muslim so almost all the women are wearing a hijab, or head scarf. The commercial was like any one at home except originally the girl was wearing a black head scarf and sad, but then once she washed her hair with the shampoo her scarf was miraculously, a beautiful shiny green! Never once in the commercial did you see her head and/or hair. Very interesting way to market shampoo but I guess its a cultural thing... I had a good laugh over it.

       The one thing that I've noticed so far about traveling alone is that there are a lot more little things I notice and pick up on... mostly I suppose since theres no one else around to entertain me, but its been nice and relaxing! Today I leave for Melaka... another cultural town but this time in the South of Malaysia. Unfortunately I have to take an overnight bus to get there and it doesn't leave until 8pm so I have some more time to kill this afternoon. Thats what a good novel is for! Kota Bharu has been relaxing I guess, but I'm looking forward to heading to (hopefully) a more interesting place tonight!  

Photos / videos of "Lindsay's Solo Adventures...":

Eating/TV area of the night market (hey, just like home!) Hawker stalls Hawker stalls (taken from my table so as not to be overly touristy snapping photos of people trying to maintain normal lives) Stall of lots of desserts and then some squid (the brownish red things right near the front right corner)