Monday, March 10, 2014

Infidels in Kota Bharu

 Our trip to Kota Bharu was necessary because Ian needed to rendezvous with the regional supervisor for a few minutes.  First we had lunch then went to the marketplace only to discover that the Sabbath is not the optimal day for going to Kota Bharu.  Most of the market stalls where we could shop for all of the marvelous things Kelantan is famous for, were shuttered.  There were a few clothing stores open, featuring colorful batik, and we purchased a shirt for Brian.  The women in the shops were friendly.  They asked us where we were from.  Ian said, "U.K." and they smiled.  We said "U.S." and a few faces lost their smiles.  Hmmm.  
Ian and his boss had chosen the bus station to meet up.  The station is basically a parking lot with a few covered benches, and a small two story building containing a couple of ticket offices and restrooms.  The usual taxi drivers and layabouts approached us asking where we wanted to go.  We said we were waiting for someone.  They still wanted to know where we were going.  We said "Tanah Merah" and they wanted to drive us there.  We said we would take the bus.  One of them said, "No bus there."  (One leaves from the station every 30 minutes).  I guess lying to infidels on the Sabbath is OK.  One of them asked where we were from.  "U.S." elicited some excellent glares.  We began to wonder if perhaps America's adventures in Iraq, perpetual occupation of Afghanistan, and flying killer robot assassination program were causing folks in the Muslim world to think less highly of us.  We decided it might be prudent to fib a bit about our nationalities for the remainder of our time in Kelantan.
Our time at this garden spot was prolonged by the tardiness of Ian's boss.  No show.  For a while.  A while turned into 45 minutes at which time Ian discovered that he forgot to charge his phone.  About 3 nights in a row.  He couldn't call his boss, or receive any calls.  We waited a while.  It was hot.  It was an ugly spot.  Fortunately, the anti American contingent had moved on, so anyone there who asked was informed that we were Brits.  Jolly good!
The boss eventually showed up, although we spent far too much time at this place:
The day was moving past us and we still needed to get a few items for Ian's house, namely something for the guests to sit on.
We took the bus back to Tanah Merah and went into the one stop shopping store that has virtually anything you can buy in Tanah Merah.  The staff was very helpful once they found out we were British, and we purchased a couple of plastic chairs, some great Malaysian coffee, and a few other grocery items.
We then headed for the taxi station, where we found 4 or five one toothed guys laying about and roused one of them off the bench to take us home.  His car was the one with the hood up, and after a few tries, he got it started and took us home for less than the usual rip off fare.  Sabbath prices?

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