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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kota Bharu and Hari Raya

So, we were all really looking forward to Kota Bharu as it is supposed to be the most "Malay" of the places we were going, and we could see the art of batik making, a kite factory, all that sort of thing. I remember being disappointed that we weren't leaving the Perhentians first thing in the morning like we were supposed to, because the boat guy was observing Hari Raya.

I shouldn't have been so disappointed, as when we got to KB it was like the movie set of a deserted ghost town. And I thought there'd be all these special festivities that we could somehow get mixed up in, but it turns out all these festivities occur in people's private homes, while places like batik making and kite factories are, of course closed.

So what's a girl to do in such hard times?

Well, we did the best we could. I went with 4 of the other people in my group in search of a place, ANY place, which was open. Turns out that KFC which I would not be caught dead in on a normal day is open for Hari Raya. Thanks, Colonel! On this day, the staff who normally wear KFC uniforms can wear their very fancy Hari Raya dress, and the customers that come in seem to have an amazing penchant for male-female couples wearing matching or complimentary outfits! Such colors! Such silks! We were trying to take stealthy photos without being completely obvious (right, the only non-dressed-up, white tourists in the whole entire place) and a table of 6 adorably dressed women and girls sat down next to us.

We then proceeded to have a Seinfeld-like conversation of how we could manage to get a photo of these people. Would it be rude and an infringement of their religious observation? Would they say no? What would be the technique? Should we say "Hey, can you friend me on Facebook? Wait a second, let's get a photo together!" I suggested a direct approach and then was dared to be the one to go up to them. So, I went up to them and used my limited Malay to tell them how beautiful their Hari Raya dresses were and would they mind taking a photo WITH me. A few of them ran away, tactfully, but 3 of them agreed to pose with me, one of whom was a KFC employee. I'd have to consider it a success. The image will be posted here when I get home :)

A horrendous downpour happened while we were at KFC, so we were practically forced to stay there and rate people's matched outfits on a 1 to 5 scale.

Next, Jessica and I went on an exhaustive search for an internet cafe that was open on Hari Raya. Nope. Not a chance. We thought perhaps there would be a Chinese-owned place (like the few restaurants that stay open all being Chinese, much like the US on Christmas --those savvy entrepreneurs!) I even stopped at a clinic for dermatological emergencies which was surprisingly open to ask them "Ada kedai internet buka hari ini?" The answer, of course, was "Selamat Hari Raya." And that's why these blog postings are so damned late. Sorry!

We did find an open 7-11 where I bought baby powder for my own latest dermatological emergency, and chatted with the store clerk. Slim pickings indeed. As a group we mostly felt that Intrepid should have re-jigged the trip to get us to KB on some other day and put us on the islands or in the park on Hari Raya. One glaring tip-off might have been that they clearly couldn't get a Malay Intrepid tour leader to run this trip during the end of Ramadan season ... not to belittle our own tour leader, who was Thai and lovely and also a tiny bit frustrated by Ramadan.

That night I found a new feline BFF, an adorable tabby that followed me into the hotel. I told him he would have to be quiet so we didn't get thrown out of the lobby, at which point he promptly meowed very loudly. I sneaked him some of the Hari Raya treats which had anchovy, of all ingredients, in them, and of course, I named this kitty ... Hari Raya :)



  1. I web searched Suka Suka because I wanted to see that gorgeous waterfall, and up popped pics from what must have been another recent group on the same tour... complete with photos of Aziz, Asiah, and Azam! What a lovely place. I'm soooooo envious! Safe travels, Carol! Felicia

  2. makan-makan beraya tu jangan makan banyak sampai sakit perut. Sebagai langkah berjaga-jaga, baca info ini - Risiko Makan Banyak di Musim Raya dan Keracunan Makanan

  3. No pictures of the kitty in this posting?