Sunday, August 27, 2006

Peninsular Malaysia (again)

Left with a couple of weeks between leaving Sabah and our next big flight from Singapore to Perth we were puzzling over what to do. Sitting relaxing on an island somewhere seemed like a good idea to both of us, the only problem being -what island? We had heard good things about both Palau Perhentian and Pulau Tioman, each being very different but having their individual pros and cons. A puzzling decision. At one point I was heard to remark in a very grumpy tone, 'That's it, I'm going home because I can't decide which tropical island to go lie on.' In the end we compromised on a trip up the East coast of Malaysia, stopping at various points along the way. With that in mind we caught an Air Asia flight from Kota Kinabalu to Johor Bahru on the peninsular.

Our trip gave me a chance to compile the following 'womans magazine style' (so I am told) quiz:
1) You are passing through the baggage scanner and a couple are in front of you loading their bags onto the conveyor, do you:
a) Wait until they have loaded their bags and proceed to load yours.
b) Attempt to push your bag underneath and in front of theirs.

2) You are about to walk through the metal detector and someone is already walking through, do you:
a) Wait until they are through then proceed yourself.
b) Jam yourself and your partner into the gaps either side of the other person and attempt to go through together.

3) You are waiting for a flight and it's number is called, do you:
a) Wait in patiently in the line you joined just before boarding was announced.
b) Elbow and push your way forward into a 2 square centimetre space in front of someone.

4) The plane begins to descend and hits some fairly bad turbulence. The pilot turns on the seatbelt light, do you:
a) Remain seated calmly watching the plane bounce around.
b) Go to the toilet.

5) You are on a minibus journey. The minibus is plastered with no smoking signs, do you:
a) Sit throughout the journey, not smoking.
b) Chain-smoke the entire way.

If you answered mostly a's then you are mostly likely not Chinese. If you answered mostly b's there is a good chance that you are of Chinese ancestry. Actually, I'm sure not every Chinese person is as rude as everyone that particular day seemed, I just got a bit irritated by it all. Normal service is resumed.

Johor Bahru is the town just opposite the island of Singapore and is unsurprisingly a major transit hub. After landing we took a bus to the main bus station and set about trying to get up the coast. We'd decided not to go to Pulau Tioman at this point, despite it being nearby. Instead we wanted to head to Cherating, a beachside village some way up the coast. We managed to find the right man shouting random things at the top of his voice and he took us to his ticket counter. It was there we discovered we could only get a direct bus overnight, or go to Kuantan and change there. Given that it was already afternoon we thought we'd rather get the overnight bus than try and find a local bus from Kuantan late at night, or worse have to stay in Kuantan which our guidebook made out to be a dump.

We didn't really know what to do for the next 9 hours waiting for the bus. We exhausted the joys of the shops in the bus station reasonably quickly, bought a Sudoku book and did that for a while, before giving up and heading to town. A quick taxi ride and we were in the city centre. Stupidly half way there, and too late, I remembered that the bus station had a left luggage office. The idea was that we should eat and then try and get through some more photo uploading at an Internet cafe. The eating was easy enough as we fell straight into a Pizza Hut. The Internet was harder. Although we looked quite hard we could only find one Internet cafe and that was constantly full of people. We ended up browsing in the mall for the airconditioning and drinking cups of tea. This is truly the rock and roll lifestyle we are living. The Internet place didn't get any less busy so in the end we gave up and went back to the bus station for more Sudoku and stale smoke smell.

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