#KualaTerengganu #Malaysia: From Fog of War to Land of Sunshine

Mosque in northeast Malaysia

Mosque in northeast Malaysia

Kuala Terengganu has a beach. That’s nice. They’ve got a cute Chinatown, too. They’ve even got a sports bar, if you’re there at the right time. I wouldn’t know. I can’t go there, because I don’t have any cash. There’s one money changer in town, but he’s closed because it’s the Friday Sabbath. I planned to pay with a credit card at my hotel, but they said that’d cost 3% extra, so I declined; good thing, too. I paid by cash, the first day, anyway. That’s all the cash I had.

Then they told me that my room was in another location, another building, three minutes away—by car. This building is full. It’s 2pm. I had a reservation, with deposit paid. I’m not happy. That could be three miles away, for all I know. I told them I wanted my money back. Mr. Counter Help made some phone calls. He said he’d have to keep a cancellation fee. I told him I wanted it all back—ALL of it—NOW. He gave it all back. I look bad when I’m mad.

Kuala Terengganu cityscape

Kuala Terengganu cityscape

Now I have to look for another room on Saturday afternoon in a town where rooms are tough to find, probably because of that beach. There are no backpackers here—just me—and no digs for them, boo hoo. Next place I go is full—looks bad. Fortunately I’ve got a plan B—just go back to Kota Bahru, lots of beds there. But I score on the next place, $25 or so, and they let me skip on the deposit; nice of them, even nicer if they’d take credit cards, then they wouldn’t have to bother with all the money changing hands, gets nasty dirty…

Kuala Terengganu is a nice enough mid-size city, as is Kota Bharu, pleasant but without the backpacker connections, just locals and their little lives going about it on one of the long three-day weekends that seems de rigueur in Islamistan, figure with an Islamic Friday Sabbath and an international Sunday one, that pretty much neutralizes Saturday, too, way cool…

Car Wash and Bistro? Must be Malaysia...

Car Wash and Bistro? Must be Malaysia…

Only problem is now I’m down to about three bucks in useable local cash, so that pretty much precludes a big night on the town or even much of a meal, for that matter, so this will be a challenge, go for a discount bag of apples, can’t go wrong there, but noodles would be good cheap and easy, not full price, though, no cheaper than bread, finally find the po’ boy special six-pack plain for less than a dollar good time to use all those seasoning packs I save up for emergencies like this, now down to $1, heh heh…

Chinatown here cuter than a bug, though, all dressed up with nowhere to go, this the end of the line for thousands of Chinese Shanghaied from Kwangtung, never to return home, misery loves company, everything but Suzie Wong for accompaniment, this not Penang full of Chinese and late-night streetwalkers, no this is the ‘real’ Malaysia full of ethnic Malays and their Muslim predilections, if you wanna’ go astray then you gotta’ at least feel guilty…

Milking a coconut in Malaysia...

Milking a coconut in Malaysia…

Me, I feel hungry, but sure enough the money changer opens right on schedule and I’m richer if not wiser. I get enough money to get me back to Thailand, that’s all I need to continue my sentimental journey, maybe my last journey to Southeast Asia, riding the rails at that, a double love affair coming to a non-embittered end, older if not wiser, there will be an overnight bus to Butterworth, Penang’s land-bound brother only a stopover for the train back to Had Yai and onward north… C U on the bus.  Bring me a pillow, can you, please?

June 2014

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