Monday, 19 January 2009

Khota Bharu markets and nightlife. Around KL with Armin's Sulawesi princess.


Since I left England I've acquired two tattoos along the way.

The Thai one says 'Steve, Lo pra cha chon'. The Chinese one says 'Shi jie gong min'. They both mean 'Global Citizen'. I'm glad they're hidden when I wear a T-shirt since I'm not all that into tats. Many backpackers today are covered in them. Dreadlocks, fishing pants and tats are all the rage at the moment within the travel community. Big Celtic design type tats seem to dominate.

This is 'Yong He' (永和). He works as a time-share salesman on Ko Samui and he was in Malaysia to renew his visa. I was helping him with his laptop issues and he gave me a lot of teaching resources in return. He's as mad as a hatter. I'm unsure why he's given himself a Chinese name (Yong = forever, He = peace)?

Trying to give an idea of the scale of my luggage. This is my 5star room in KB. Can you see my brolly sticking up on the left? Necessary here during monsoon season. All my worldly possessions fit in this little bag.

I went for a walk on my last day in KB. I did a bit of tourist stuff. First, I encountered this. I have no idea what this building is for. Is it an embassy for Fatbastardland?

Can you remember doing Art class at school? We had to draw something where all the lines converge to a point like this. It looks interesting - a nice arty effect.

Kelantan river.

Muslim clothes stall outside the mosque. Nice hat.

He was a funny lad. He approached me and started jabbering away in Kelantanese shaking a certificate. I shook my head muttering "Mai Kao Jai" so he started speaking incomprehensible Thai that I also couldn't understand. I ventured "Speak English?" and he laughed shaking his head. We gave up and I took his picture thinking that I'll never know what his paper was about.

Here's a lad cooking something from a mobile kitchen welded to his motorbike. I have no idea what the food was but the people behind him seemed to be enjoying it.

This is a nearby museum with a picture of two important people.

The entrance to Kota Bharu nightmarket.

I'll pretty much eat anything. However, food doesn't give me a hard-on like some folk. These night markets offer cheap, exotic scrumptious late night meals. It's great to sit at these places on a warm evening. You can sample a huge array of cuisine. I liked this sweet stall because of the little chocolate cakes with Malaysia flags sticking out of them.

Not much pork around here. BBQd chicken and beef.

A plastic bag of Lychee juice.

Rudy, my mate from the Bunga Raya hostel.


Any night life in KB? Well, bars are thin on the ground in this dry Muslim town. You can't even buy alcohol in the shops. However, Rudy wanted to dispel the myth that KB is a barren land concerning nightlife. On my final evening he dragged me along to a nearby bar called 'Golden City' on Jalan Padang Garong.

The entrance is very discreet so as to not upset the religious populace. It's easy to miss considering it's the only bar I've seen here. In fact I've walked passed it many times. Can you see the last P of the word SHARP? Well the door's there.

Rudy made out I was some kind of travel writer to Wang, the young Chinese owner, as I took a couple of snaps of the bar. His bullshit/negotiation skills were rewarded with a free beer provided I plug the bar here – I think Wang's under the impression I write for the Lonely Planet or something!

So it was nice to sink a beer in these delightful surroundings. There were even Thai hostess ladies who would sit next to you and talk shit for a tip. 

This is where all the action takes place. Malaysia is worth a visit for this place alone. Forget KL with its Petronas Towers - The Golden City in KB is the place to be seen.


After the excitement of 'Golden City' I walked 2km to Langar bus station to catch the overnight bus to KL. The journey south was scenic despite the darkness. A bright moon provided some illumination. I was hoping we wouldn't break down out here. We passed the lime stone karsts of Gua Musang. The light-coloured cliff faces looked surreal in the moonlight. We traversed the roller-coaster roads of the Genting Highlands before hitting Putra Street in KL at 0600.


I finally caught up with Armin and Yuli. I even managed to get a photo of us together.

It's been great hanging out with them for the last few days. Here they are looking madly in love in Merdeka Square.

Another cafe. Delicious. You can see the menu below the Malaysian flag. I went for Naan biasa. Armin: Masala Tosa and Yuli: Roti susu. Simple, cheap and masarap.

KL's Big Ben. The awesome Petronas Towers. They were the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004 at 452m. They look magnificent during the day but at night, all lit up, they look even better.

Chinese Malaysians are well into cameras. The basic criteria for climbing the Malaysian camera league are:

1. Big camera

2. Tripod

If you manage to acquire both you achieve legendary status. This lad is halfway there.

This bunch are even better. They have tripods too.

Here's my effort with my modest phone camera. This is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building on Merdeka Square. I tried to capture the old and new of KL. We have the old clock with a palm tree in the foreground. The background has the KL tower with two modern bank sky-scrapers.

On the way home I passed a Chinese celebration. My hostel is in Chinatown and Chinese new year is fast approaching. My Mandarin language skills are useful here. I liked this scene below. Two young chefs getting carried away.

This is near Petaling Street - the tourist trap in central KL. I avoid the place like the plague. An example of the stupidity are the massages on offer. They ask 98RM or 980baht for a massage. In Thailand they're 150baht!

Malay waiters

Waiters in Malaysia are mad. I don't like to knock people but they're pretty daft. An example:

"Are you open?"
"Can I have Nasi lemak please?"
"No, we're closed"
"Eh?" Scratching head.

Another one:

"Do you want a drink?"
"No thank you, I've drunk so much coffee I won't sleep for a week."
Two minutes later.
"Here's your coffee."
"Eh?" Scratching head.

The weather is completely different on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. Here it's hot and sunny. A complete contrast to the cloud and rain in the east.

Bizui - Chinese for shut up.

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