Fireworks are forbidden, and so Chinese New Year was remarkably quiet. (Well, there were just a few here and there.)
But now it's Ramadhan, and Ramadhan is nearly over, and in the evenings there are fireworks all over the place.
Early in the month, the first few loud 'bangs' made us jump, as they shook the building. It sounded like a cannon being fired ... We gradually noticed a pattern, and we asked around among our work colleagues. Oddly, at first they denied the presence of a cannon, then one or two started saying, yes, there is a cannon!
The cannon is fired (without shooting a cannon ball!) at 5.30am - indicating the end of eating for the day. 'Mothers', apparently, rise at 4am to prepare food for their families, and then gently wake them at 5am to eat before the cannon is fired.
The second cannon firing is at 7.23pm, indicating the recommencement of eating activities .
So ... we wanted to see the cannon. We asked around, and got a variety of stories about where it is located. The area around Kuala Terengganu is really flat, with a few funny little bumpy hills, and most people figured the cannon was on top of one of those.
Well, we found "Bukit Kecil" - little hill - which kind of has two humps, and climbed the zigzag road (in the car) up each part ...
We found a hotel, a radio station, and this brand new, unfinished building (looks like a reception centre) with a tower next to it.
Climbed the tower, and looked out over the city - great views, especially now that we can recognise most of what we see.
That's the causeway we cross every day on our 20km drive to work.
BUT - no cannon that we can see.
We checked on the Internet, and, yes! it does mention cannon (plural) in Kuala Terengganu, left over from the war. They are located on "Bukit Puteri" (princess hill) right near the main markets - yes we had seen a hill, a tower, and some steps up there! So we headed over early one Saturday morning ... only to find that there is a gate at the bottom of the steps, and it is locked - it opens at 9am, for those who pay, closes at 5pm.
Well, by 9am it's already getting hot. We went into the tourist information centre right by the stairs, and they assured us that while there are cannon at the top of that hill - and a large warning bell - they are no longer used. They assured us that the cannon we hear is at the top of "Bukit Besar" (large hill) and showed us on a map.
Well, from what everyone else said and our own observations, we were pretty sure that's not where the cannon is. And besides, it's too hard to climb - a track but no road.
So we went and sat on 'our' balcony - inside our building, looking out towards the hills.
On the left with all the towers is "Bukit Besar", and "Bukit Kecil" is closer, to the right, just behind that blocky reddish building.
At 7.23pm we saw what looked like a sky-rocket firework go up from Bukit Kecil, and as it disappeared out of our sight, there was a loud explosion - not a cannon after all?!
Well, our colleagues at work assure us it is a cannon, and they point it skyward - hence it looks like a firework...
Ramadhan is all but over. Maybe we'll go find it next year!
Hari Raya - Great Day (the end of Ramadhan)
Excitement is building with everyone preparing for holidays and visiting family wherever they are. Schools are already on holiday, and so, it seems, are government workers and many others.
After another weekend on the island (Kapas) we thought we might take a trip to the shops this morning. We managed to get out of our building and into the 'flow' of traffic. And the flow stopped, everything ground to a halt, the whole area was pretty much gridlocked. Well, we can survive without shopping! It took us quite a while, sitting in traffic, but eventually we managed to go around the block and scurry back home. Shopping will need to be done in shops we can walk to for now.
I wonder if it will be this bad for the whole week?