We are on a NOT-BREAK. The Institute, and all the schools, are on holiday but we are not. We are "working from home" ...
Maybe foolishly we chose this time to go north (up near the Thai border) and see the larger city of Kota Bharu - which we heard has big SHOPPING CENTRES ... and stuff like that.
So we went, right after work on Thursday (that's the weekend, remember?) Not really a long way, but fairly slow going through the endless villages (cows, goats, ducks on the road, not to mention obviously un-licensed drivers!) taking about 3 hours. [Coming back we came down that 'big' number 3 road inland, and it really wasn't any different except that there was less chance of getting lost.]
So we did find a couple of actual Shopping Centres:
That might not seem very exciting, but we don't have anything like that here in Kuala Terengganu. We have a "Giant" store which is like a big supermarket and there are lots of sort of little stalls kind of in the foyer of it - not separate shops like in a shopping centre as we know it.
So ... mostly KB was just more of the same as in KT, only more so.
More congested, people-more-unfriendly footpaths with steep steps, smelly open drains, and usually no footpath at all. To cope with the tiny streets and heavy traffic they have developed a fairly haphazhard system of one-way streets. And as a long-term prospect they are building a system of huge flyovers but they are still in the mud-and-mess stage of roadworks.
There were quite a lot of buildings like this here in the city centre and also in the countryside. The windows have all been bricked up, and there are little pipes inserted into the bricks. As you walk past the building there is a huge racket of birds squawking - outside the air is full of swooping swallows. We can only presume they are inviting them in and collecting their guano. This is an older building, but some of them are very new looking, with the glass windows propped open and bricked up.
The weather turned wet, and wetter, and quite miserable (still hot though), and we decided to go for a drive to find the beach - we thought that KB was a place to go to the beach, unlike KT where people only go there to fly kites and they are basically scared of the water, apparently. We were puzzled by the heavy traffic on the way to the beach, and even more by the number of people who were there on a Friday evening.
It was almost impossible to get a parking spot, and the little tarpaulin-cover 'restaurants' were packed with people chowing down ...
What seemed even more weird was the people sitting watching the sea ... This is definitely not how people normally behave down in Terengganu.
But the next morning when we were handed a newspaper (in English) it began to make sense.
We didn't know about the tsunami - but they did, and they were looking for it! Of course, Malaysia was basically protected by the Philippines in this case.
We were puzzled therefore that the police on the other side of the country in Kuala Lumpur were warning people. So in Terengganu state the police were turning people away from the beaches - all the way up to Besut, south of where we were.
What seems really amusing is the little comment right in the middle of this news report:
"While most revellers heeded police warnings, some appeared nonchalant and needed to be chased away."
Well, that seems to sum these people up. Nonchalant. That's how they drive and everything. Kind of relaxing really. Gotta love 'em!