Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Despite my first impression of Kota Bahru (Malaysia), I'm starting to like it. The city is ugly but the people are nice...
Practical details to be settled
I refer you to the previous post for the small adventures of my arrival in Kota Bahru. Phew, I finally took it, this shower so desired! After that, it was necessary to deal with the most urgent things: to change money for my stay in Perhentian Kecil, to book the crossing. The question of the boat is settled at the reception of the hotel, they sell the tickets. And they promise me a cab for the next day, at 8 am, which will lead me to Kuala Besut, from where the boarding is done.
The nice receptionist confirms me that at this hour (it is already close to 5pm) all the banks are closed.
She sends me to help out at Azram Photo (a good plan that is also included in the hitchhiker) : it's good timing, it's in my street, almost in front of the hotel. The store does not only develop the pictures, but also does currency exchange. And at a better rate than the one practiced at the airport of Kuala Lumpur, I compared...
As I put down my beautiful 100 euro bills that have never been used at the counter, the previous customer turns to me and asks the ritual question: "Where do come from?..." "From France." I answer him. "Ah! Hello, how are you? Welcome to Malaysia! » exclaims the guy, in impeccable French.
I laugh and congratulate him for his perfect accent. He explains me that he lived in Paris, near the Place d'Italie. He also makes a comment about Zidane and the French team. He thinks that France will win against Brazil. Then he greets me politely, before leaving.
Walk to the Kota Bahru Market
It must be said that in Kota Bahru, the Blues are everywhere... and even advertise for a mobile operator.
Then I go to the central market of the city. Fascinating spectacle for the eyes... and the nose. I climb to the floor of this kind of big concrete arena full of strange smells to see better.
The first floor is occupied by vegetable stands: dozens of stalls arranged next to each other form a huge colorful flowerbed.
Downstairs, around the building, I stop near the fruit sellers. And I make them laugh, pulling out my camera to capture their oranges and watermelons.
Finally, despite my not very favourable first impression, I'm starting to like it, Kota Bahru! The city is ugly, but the people are nice as anything.
Leaving the market, I find a shady square with a bistro on the corner. It smells good, my stomach rumbles... Moreover, there is a huge fan blowing fresh air in front of an available table, just waiting for me.
I settle down, under the encouraging smiles of the women who run the restaurant. Here, it gets tougher, as there is no menu displayed... And the young girl who takes care of me speaks bad English.
I make an effort to remember and gather the meager vocabulary I was able to retain from my stays in Indonesia (the two languages, the bahasa melayu and the Bahasa Indonesia are very close): "Uh... makan? » She nods her head. "Eat," yes, logical, we're in a restaurant. Ah, ah! That's it. My hungry belly inspires me: "Nasi goreng ayam! » I add, triumphantly. Her smile widens, and the two matrons behind her are folded with laughter.
Nevertheless, I quickly got my fried rice with chicken, and it was delicious. Eating: an essential moment in the life of a traveler...