Leaving Batu Arang, I wasn't really sure of how much I had accomplished; whether the residents had really taken on what I had tried to show them, whether my time there had helped people. I know it opened my eyes to a lot of things but I feel that at least another month there would be of benefit. I suppose there is only really so much you can do in 1 month given the limited resources and the utter lack of efficiency. I hope that the blogging catches on and that the English classes continue as they were when I was there. I'm planning to go back and visit when I pass through Malaysia in a couple of months time. We'll see if much has changed. I hope it has.
I spent a couple of days afterwards just chilling out at the weekend crash pad, generally eating, sleeping, walking around and buing things I dont really need but felt compelled to buy cos they're cheap. I went to the cinema twice in one night cos it cost 2 pounds. For 2 films. Both quite awful but nevermind. Whilst waiting for he Incredible Hulk to start, I saw a muslim family come in and sit down. I have nothing against muslims at all but it did make me wonder a little bit... The lady who I assume was the mother was in full on dress with just a tiny tiny slit for her eyes. If the tailor was having a bad day and put the slit in the wrong place, that lady would have terrible difficulty in understanding the complex nature of Bruce Banner's character. Anyway.
Met up with my family outside KL who live in this unbelievably cushy place. I explained to them what I had been doing in Batu Arang and I'm not sure they really understood it. They looked a bit bemused when I said I was working with ex smack heads and people with HIV. Big difference between asian and western mentality I suppose. Had dinner with them and then sauntered back to my place where I started to pack my bag and sort out bits and pieces. not sure how I made it to the bus station as I was still packing 5 minuts before my taxi was due to take me into the city. I probably left something terribly important behind.
Took an 8 hour bus from KL to Terengganu which was an overnight affair and quite funny. I woke up at 2am in a service station with hoards of muslims milling about and making their way towards the prayer room. I had been dribbling down my top. Great look. Arrived in Terengganu at 6am a bit disorientated and unsure of where to go. Jumped in a taxi and went to Kuala Besut and bought my ticket to the Perhentian islands to chill out and get some R&R before moving on again. I was really looking forward to this as it had been billed as some sort of nirvana. In some ways it was. In a lot of other ways it wasnt. The beaches were gorgeous and I did spend and awesome day swimming with black tip sharks and giant turtles but this didn't disguise the fact that I was doing it with a bunch of western tourists. I dont want to sound like a giant tosser but the sound of some fat bloke frm essex and his missus makes me want to throw up. Especially when they order pizza. Or a burger. Or both. Another thing that greatly annoyed me was the lack of any malay/malaysian culture on the island. Nothing traditional about it aside from the rather rustic nature of my accomodation. No traditional music, no traditional food. f*** all. The best I got was Dr Alban's greatest hits (seriously) played at lunch time over a frankly poor roti canai. I think this is what made me feel ill. That I had come all this way to be greeted by a Nigerian rap artist and bland western, soulless food. Reminiscent of going to a chinese restaurant and over hearing some f***er order chips with curry sauce. perhaps its nothing like that at all. So anyway, I packed my bags after having a discussion about lack of Malaysian culture on island with the guest house owner (who completely agreed with me) and got on the ferry this morning back to the mainland. Straight away I pigged out on teh tarik, real roti canai and nasi lemak and I felt infinitely better. I now find myself in Kota Bahru in kelantan which is pretty much the cradle of Malay culture which I suppose is what I'm looking for. But knowing me, I'll probably find something to complain about. Love you. x