In the streets of Kota Bahru. Women wear scarves and covering clothes, but gay and colorful. (Malaysia, July 2006)
In the streets of Kota Bahru. Women wear scarves and covering clothes, but gay and colorful. (Malaysia, July 2006)

Arrival in Kota Bahru

  Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


So the train that never arrives has finally arrived, the cab drivers have rushed to the handle of farangs who came down with their backpacks. And we all climbed into a new specially chartered livestock trailer to take us a few hundred meters between the station and the border crossing.

-Once the forms were completed and the passports stamped, the eight others, including my new Norwegian friends Uhle and Teresa, wanted to go directly to the islands. Perhentian.

So we split up and I took a cab for myself to Kota BahruI was given a lift to the airport, a 45-minute drive. Which dropped me off at the central bus station, which fortunately really is, except I didn't know it yet.

All I knew from Kota BahruThe reason is that it is the most conservative Muslim city in Malaysia. Indeed, around me, all the women wear the headscarf and long loose clothes, colored but covering well.

In the streets of Kota Bahru. Women wear scarves and covering clothes, but gay and colorful. (Malaysia, July 2006)
In the streets of Kota Bahru. Women wear scarves and covering clothes, but gay and colorful. (Malaysia, July 2006)

Exhausted, thirsty, I drag myself under a blazing sun to a café that is on the corner. The city is very ugly: concrete, big crowded streets, big advertising signs everywhere, with big letters, well known brands: Nokia, Bata, Sony... In short, nothing very engaging at first glance.

Dripping, I order a Coke, take out my guidebook and try in vain to find my way. As usual, the map of the hitchhiker is very badly done, and the street where I am is not indicated. Pfff... Disappointed, I scan the tables around me. Only men as customers. Nobody is interested in me. I'll have to beg for help... I'm not about to take this shower!

My savior will be Mr. Tê. As I was asking my closest neighbor if there were any guesthouses in the area, another customer came forward and answered, in impeccable English, that he knew several nearby and could show me the way. Just enough time to let him finish his tea...

Thanks to Mr. Tê who even accompanied me, I arrived at my destination. Two streets away, in fact! Mr. Tê is Chinese, a jeweler by trade. He has fingers full of bagouzes with big flashy stones, real ones, that he proudly listed to me: ruby, sapphire, emerald...

As I didn't seem very impressed, he started talking about soccer (every time I decline my nationality, everyone thinks they have to talk to me about Zidane and company, as if they were my friends).

According to Mr. Tê, the Blues are great players, but their problem is that they are too old now. I listen politely, but I don't really care, I just want to settle down and take a shower.

Mr. Tê is fortunately a very courteous man, and he leaves me in front of the door of a hotel, not without having indicated me the Chinese district, just behind, if I want to have a restaurant afterwards...

  Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006

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