Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kota Bharu, Malaysia

I checked out of my hotel in Sungai Kolok and walked to the Malaysian border and and cleared the Thai border and walked into Malaysia. The only new thing at this border was it was the first time that my bags were searched. This only took a few minutes and was no big deal other than I really don’t like people looking at my dirty laundry.

Once in Malaysia I was planning on catching a local bus to get to the town of Kota Bharu. I waited at a sign that I believed said bus stop but after about 30 minutes I got up to get something to eat and saw the bus I wanted on the road and not at the parking lot with the sign for the bus. I grabbed my bag and just missed the bus. I figured I would just wait for the next bus and it did not come for another hour and a half. When it showed up it was pretty full and with all the people waiting I knew I was not going to fit on this bus. I sat back down with a few other people and hoped another bus would come before another hour and a half. It was only about 30 minutes and another bus came. This bus had all the seats full but there was room in the aisle. I squeezed my way onto the bus and fought my way down the aisle. There were a lot of people standing in the aisle and they seemed to like to stay at the front of the bus and not move to the back and this is the reason I had to fight my way through. I thought maybe these people were going to get off the bus in one or 2 stops so did not want to move back but most of them did not get off the bus until the stop where the bus pretty much cleared out. This is something I have experienced again in Kota Bharu and I don’t understand why they refuse to move to the back of the bus. Oh well I made it to the city and what I thought would be a really short day turned out to be a long day waiting for a bus in the heat.

After the day in the heat I did not do much other than going to the night market and getting something to eat. The food was really good and a bit different than what I had eaten when I was in Malaysia last time. I had a thing of spicy fried rice and these fried bread things with a sort of curry fried into the bread inside.

The full day I spent in Kota Bharu I spent most of the time visiting museums and then going to a culture center. Two of the museums where buildings that at one time were part of the Sultan’s residence. I also walked through independence square, which is famous for the British hanging the body of Tok Janggut who was a leader of an uprising against British rule in 1915.

I found the look of the mosque just across from the square really different for a mosque with one on the minarets having a clock in it.

At the cultural center they had a few show of some of the local customs. It started with men playing big drums and then they had the tourist join in and also play the drums. By the way my left hand has no rhythm. After the drums they had a band play and then a couple of guys do a sort of marital arts dance along to the music. The last thing was what the call top spinning. The announcer said the top weighted 4 kilos/8.8 pounds. They would wind this rope around the top and then throw it at a platform and once spinning move it onto a peg and let it spin. They said it would spin up to 2 hours. I have no idea why they spin the tops but it was sort of interesting to watch.

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