Malaysia part 2: The other side of the coin

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Asia » Malaysia
March 13th 2008
Published: March 13th 2008
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The difference between travelling alone and travelling in a pair is like night and day. In Terengganu I ended up at the same hostel as Remco, the guy from Holland who had booked me a hotel in Kuantan. He was kind enough to stick with me for two days and I was finally able to see Malaysia the way it was meant to be seen. There is quite a bit of beauty in this country, with it's gleaming white mosques and fantastically dyed fabrics. Terengganu has a well developed riverside walkway, unfortunately many of the facilities were under construction so we couldn't check out any of the weaving or woodworking. In Chinatown we spent some time in a temple lighting insence for Remcos' grandparents. Friday is the Muslim holy day so things operate similar to a Sunday in Canada. Most of the shops are closed and prayers are announced via loudspeaker from the mosque 6 times throughout the day. The streets are fairly quite with the exception of people heading to and from prayer. I spent most of the day reading and loking through the batik shops in Chinatown (the Chinese portion of the city operated as any other day). On Friday nights the waterfront is the place to be. There's a huge makeshift marketplace that seems to go on forever. Remco and I attempted to taste every kind of food we didn't recognize and most of it was fantastic. I love noodles and this place was full of them. We roamed through stalls and stalls of second had and new clothing, tonnes af shoes, watches, about every kind of brand-name wallet you could ask for and other various odds and ends. The next day I caught a bus up the coast to Kuala Besut on my way to the Perhentian islands. I rode in the back with a family of 5 from Britan that had been travelling for 10 months around the world. I can only assume they didn't run into very many westerners because their kids takled to me for 6 and a half hours straight about everything and anything: cats, lizards, snakes, spanish children, turtles, etc (they were all very young). I gave them jello and they loved me, I think their parents were happy to have a little time away from the kids too. The Perhentian island of Besar is a postcard view at every turn. I walked up and down the white sandy beach and then spent about an hour staring at some monkeys hoping along the rooftops before settling into a beach chair with a book and watching the sunset on the horizon. I was lucky enough to run into some fantastic German boys in Singapore who had booked an all-inclusive package at one of the resorts on the island and I was able to stay with them for only 40RM/night (about $13 Canadian). I spent the next five days doing absolutely nothing, not the purpose of this trip but it was a welcome change. Although I'm normally not interested in the "touristy" types, I can understand the apeal of an overpriced nap in the sunshine. After a few days of purely existing and doing as little as possible I was back on the mainland. From talking to other tourists I've found that my Malaysia experience (the first half) is not very common, and I'm sad to have missed out on so much that they were able to see and enjoy. That will have to wait for another trip, obviously with someone else to take the edge off. For now I'm headed to Thailand and hopefully better luck.
For those individuals who have sent rather "colorful" personal messages in response to my impressions of Malaysia, rest assured that your comments were recieved with just as much care and compassion as with which they were written. Also, I don't believe that being female is reason enough to be treated as a lesser being, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

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