Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kota Bharu

I started this week in Kuala Lumpur which is home to quite a few night market hawkers selling fake everything, men sleeping on park benches and alley ways in the middle of the day and, surprisingly, a hell of a lot of trees. I escaped a few monsoon-like rain storms in the air conditioned Islamic Art Museum and the massive National Mosque and also spent a sweaty afternoon at the fantastically named Lake Titiwangsa (it's ok, go on, giggle, i did) where you can get a fine view of the KL skyline through the mist and pollution. Oh, and if you ever get the chance to visit the National Art Gallery don't go there around lunch time as the place is like a fucking creche, half-filled with little snot machines running around the place turning it into some kind of post modern parenting exhibition.

I got an 8 hour bus to the north west corner of the country to Kota Bharu a few days ago. Malaysia's default colour is green. Once you're out of a city all you can see is endless amounts of trees and jungle clambering over every peak and into every valley. Kota Bharu is a nice enough little city not far from the Thai border. It's an Islamic place with mosques scattered around between quiet shops and billboards advertising watches and mobile phones that me and you can't afford, let alone the woman waiting tables in the half empty cafes. The occasional rat scuttles about in the shadows, stalked by the stray cats and at sunset the birds go a bit mental for half an hour as a lightening storm usually rages on the horizon or, if you're really unlucky, over head. Nobody is in a rush and everybody seems perfectly happy and content with the languid pace of life and easy going days. Why wouldn't they be?

Yesterday was Friday so everything was shut apart from the mosques and the 7-11s so i rented a bicycle and headed off to a beach out of town to the north. Along the journey half the people i passed seemed to want to say hello. Kids waved, teenagers on scooters zipped past shouting greetings and giggling at my insufficient speed. As a consequence of being sucked into this happy-go-lucky sunshine atmosphere i neglected to recognise that i was wearing a short sleeved shirt and i'm now the proud owner of bright red forearms and pasty white body. Sexy. I've spent today at the War Musuem (don't ask), hiding my arms from sunlight and generally just killing time before the Kota Bharu football team plays a home game tonight. Apparently they're the champions of Malaysia and according to the guys who work in my hostel the standard of football is "a bit shit". Should be fun. Tomorrow i'm heading to an unpronounceable island with a beach for a few days to try and make the rest of my body the same colour as my arms. Then maybe a train or a jungle. Or both. Or something.

Thanks for reading. I'll try and write some more guff next week.

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