Everybody loves a road trip - even on Malaysian roads.
So we didn't have to go somewhere, we just wanted to explore a bit (a change from our Island home).
A while back we drove north to Kota Bahru looking for a better shopping experience (no shopping malls as such in Kuala Terengganu), so this time we went south to Kuantan.
Ramadhan - the Fasting / Feasting Month
August is Ramadhan here in Malaysia. During the day (at work) no one eats or drinks, right up until evening prayer at 7.23pm. However they start getting ready for their evening feasting anytime from midday or so. There are far more wayside stalls with food being prepared and sold than normal. Everyone buying buying buying ... but no one eating! When the time arrives everyone knows - not only because of the call from the mosque, but also because someone lets off a cannon.
The rules are very strict here. It is illegal for Muslims (all ethnic Malays) to eat or drink, and everyone else has to avoid eating or drinking (or smoking) in public. But there are allowances for the sick, the elderly, the very young, and travellers ...
Driving to Kuantan - a 3-hour drive - we were nevertheless careful not to be seen eating. But at one stage Peter was eating an apple, with the window open, and we stopped at traffic lights. "Makanah!" (eating!) we heard from the lady in the car nearby. There was no way to explain that (1) we are not Muslim, (2) we are not strictly speaking in public, and (3) we are travelling.
Anyway, we tried to be more careful. Even so, at one stage I was absolutely parched, and leaned forward to have a slurp of a drink through a straw. The window was open a little, but there was no vehicle next to us. However there was a truck to the left and slightly behind, and I heard the driver yell, "Makanah!".
We stayed in a hotel right on the river in Kuantan, lovely little spot.
The hotel was very quiet, we were up on the 8th floor with views of the city and the river.
The mosque in the very centre of town dominates the view, and is architecturally beautiful.
The carpark and playing field next to the mosque are taken over with market stalls,
and, as the sun sets, people gathering for evening feasting.
We arrived at the market stalls as the prayer time finished ... and the food was all gone. Everybody seems to get so eager to eat that they buy up the food and get all ready ahead of time.
The shopping centres are lovely - meaning that they are shopping centres in the sense of "shopping centres" as we know, so a little taste (almost) of home. Some nice outlet stores, and even I managed to buy a few tops. That is something that can make a girl happy ... :)
There are other interesting things to see.
This lamppost seems to be growing. It is completely surrounded by this tree and its roots... Well, I just dunno...
We were a little surprised to see this graffiti - it's actually very unusual in these parts.
But lifting your eyes slightly you can see the name of the shop that triggered this.
Well, we did some shopping, and enjoyed our night in the hotel. We had breakfast in the hotel - being the only ones in the dining room because it was well after sun-up.
And then it was time to head home to Kuala Terengganu. Very tired, but happy with some new clothes!