Day 5 of The Round Malaysia Road Trip 2020 | Travels with my wife

Travels With My Wife

Still talking after all these years!

Day 5 of The Round Malaysia Road Trip 2020

Finally we get to Kuala Terengganu!


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We've been reading Isabella Bird's book about her travels in Malaysia in the 1880s. Granted that she travelled to Malacca, Negara Sembilan and Selangor rather than the "unexplored" area that the Brits of 1880 considered Kuala Terengganu, but her observations of those regions show just how much Malaysia has changed during the last hundred and forty years.

For a start, Tigers no longer wander about the streets of Malacca or anywhere else for that matter. Similarly crocodiles are not lurking in the murky waters of the rivers - or at least not many. She also worried about the Malay running amok! This was not uncommon back in her day. No Malay was a man unless he strapped his Kiris to his belt and was quick to react to the slightest besmirching of his honour: hence the constant squabbling among the Rajas and Sultans that reduced "Native States" as she called them, to anarchy. But more to the point, the occasional Kirising of British officials, concerned her mostly; especially those trying to explain to the Malay's that shooting Chinamen was not a civilised pursuit, satisfactory though it may well be what with them being pork eating unbelievers and all that.


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Thankfully the kiris is confined to the trophy room and museum case nowadays and you will be lucky to find anything sharper than a plastic fork and spoon in a restaurant. Though I am pretty sure that if motivated someone could do some damage angrily sticking a plastic party fork up one's nose. And although I have it on good information that Malaysian politicians thrive on the POC policy, which is an acronym for Pissing Off Chinese, nobody is shooting at them.

Similarly, it is off season for Brits abroad. Where Isabella sensed that under the layers of politeness a hatred of the infidel dog that she was, could erupt into yet another unfortunate display of cultural misunderstanding, for us, everyone is friendly.

Being a stand offish Yorkshireman with an imperious university Professor for a wife, seeped in the Cantonese culture of Hong Kong for twenty-four years, we are rather used to an existence a lot edgier than anything we find in Malaysia. Which does make us wonder if people back in the days of Empire were just plain soft and over sensitive, or Malaysia really has moved on and discovered an inner calm despite the excessive amounts of sugar they put into their drinks?


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A visit to Malaysian museums may tell us a story of the mad bad and brutal days of the not so distant past, as the story Tok Kaya running amok attests. But let's face it, who would not go ape shit crazy if their wife wouldn't give them any money?

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And no doubt polishing the boots of these imperious guys would definitely leave me with an itchy kiris hand. Our reasons for leaving the UK behind thirty years ago had something to do with that Yorkshire Chip that is my birth right, and its sensitive twitching whenever any old Etonian strode within range.


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But those days are long gone, as our wandering around the markets and mosques of Malaysia attests. So, check out our video of this part of our journey.