Exploring Kuala Terengganu

Exploring Kuala Terengganu.

Nor Huda Mohd Izam was talking about hotels in Kuala Terengganu. I told her I’ll put together a page on KT as I have not done a dedicated page as yet. Creating the page was wonderful as the images brought back so many fond memories.

Kuala Terengganu was a quirky and bizarre place, for me, especially the Chinatown area. Loved it very much. No doubt the beaches and rustic fishing villages were awesome but the food and many curious artifacts around Chinatown were worth exploring. Do visit when you get the chance. Chinatown dates back to the time of Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) from the 14th century. Only odd thing was, me and friend could find no teh tarik or mamak stall near the hotel.

Find a hotel in KT here:

Son Of A Hotel Owner.

Son Of A Hotel Owner.

I had a childhood friend whose family operated a hotel with the grand sounding name of Hotel De Luxe.

When he went to London to study, his reputation as a hotel owner commanded a lot of respect. His uni mates thought it must be a legendary hotel like the ones in Hollywood or Rome, housed in an art deco building. He told them the hotel had a casino.

In reality, it was a ‘rumah tumpangan’ or a budget lodging house above the family’s coffee shop or kopitiam. The casino was the mahjong table in a corner. Lol.

The friend has since migrated to the states. I am sure he will make it big.

I know about rumah tumpangan as I worked for the late Malay movie legend Mustapha Maarof. He owned a production house and was very frugal. We, the film crew, must look for the cheapest hotels when were were outstation. It may sound tough but I now appreciate the experience and challenges of traveling on a shoestring budget.

Those ‘rumah tumpangan’ were the predecessors of today’s slick budget hotels. The walls or partitions don’t touch the ceilings. That means you can hear everything from the next room. There is usually a ceiling fan in the middle, a spittoon and a mosquito coil provided. A thermos flask for hot water and a bar of 999 Chlorophyll Soap were also provided. The anti skin infection soap was a good idea as the blankets were furry from wear.

If you are lucky, you can order food from the coffee shop downstairs. Famous Yong Suan and its nasi ganja in Ipoh is a good example. When the highway opened up, it eliminated travel time and the need to stop overnight. Unfortunately, the owners were not online savvy and made no affiliations with online agents and were unable to compete relying on walk in guests alone.

There was one in every town, big or small, to cater to the traveling salesmen and van drivers or delivery men. It is a legacy institution fast fading,

Picture of Lok Ann Hotel from 1938 boarded up and awaiting demolition to make way for the MRT. The Chinatown hotel is a venerable landmark with a coffee shop on the ground floor. Pic was taken in April 2015. The giant flag bearers were part of the flag vaulting team in a chingay parade. .

#history #rumahtumpngan

San Miguel Beer Of 1890

Non-beer drinkers may wonder why, at many Asian cities, customers at coffee shops stack finished bottles on the table. It may appear like a competition, if there are more than one table of drinkers.

The reason is quite innocuous, usually. For regulars, no tab is kept by the shop. When they are about to leave, a coffee shop worker or the cashier will count the empty bottles and the total is calculated.

The San Miguel bottles should give a clue to drinkers that this is a coffee shop in the Philippines. It was nice seeing the pale pilsen in its hometown and birthplace. It is one of Phillipines’s most famous global brands. Yes. I tried famous Jollibee burgers too, founded by a Mr Tan.

They drinkers here were bored workers of the Chinese coffee shop itself. It was nightfall outside in Chinatown, Manila.

What was I doing there?

As usual, I wanted to talk to some ethnic Chinese after exploring Manila Chinatown. The men told me St Miguel brewery is owned by a Chinese tycoon, Mr Ang. The corporation also owns Petron petrol stations in Malaysia, I was told.

Find a hotel easily in Manila at Mycen Hotels. www.mycen.my

Olympus OM-D, ISO 2000, f2.8, !/160

#documentaryphotography #streetphotography #coffeeshop #chinatown #beer #stmiguel #manila #chinese #philippines #olympus

Bang The Rusty Gong. Hail The King! – Part 2 of A Two Parter

Anyway, back in KL in the early 2000s, I discovered our own Flea Market that was naturally also a Thieves Market. It as known as Pasar Karat or Rust Market and was located at the back of Petaling Street, Chinatown. There was an obvious clue that it was a Thieves Market and it didn’t require Sherlock or Combo to decipher.

It was that many of the shoes displayed on the ground were only one half a pair. Yet there were many customers happily choosing. Maybe they lost half a pair. I was told that if a drug addict or burglar climbed over your fence and stole your shoe, there is a good chance of getting or buying it back here. Because thefts happen at night and the thieves need to unload stuff fast, Pasar Karat opened as early as 5 am to cater to such sellers. Expectedly, they don’t welcome cameras, unless you intend to sell yours. This was the only pic I had.

Many of the non stolen items were like old telephones, tap fittings and vintage radios. Many items were severely rusted, living up to the bazaar’s name.

One morning, I went with a friend at 5 am and we walked around and saw a 20″ LCD TV for sale. 20″ flat screen was a big deal then, Yes. FOL (F Our Lives). Eager to find out the price, we were told by traders to wait for The King. Only The King can set the price for everything there including a hot water shower and a rusted axe. It was so bizarre but we waited. This King must be a burly gangster type with tattoos, like any “fence” buying stolen property we speculated.

At 7 am, there was much excitement, when a scrawny Chinese guy with thin limbs came honking on a three wheeled motorcycle with a sidecar. He was shirtless and a former polio sufferer. Everyone bowed and clasped their hands against their heads. Bang a rusty gong! Royalty is here! He jumped on top of his motorcycle sidecar and picked up a Nike Air Max or similar and raised 3 fingers. It meant RM30 and there were loud oohs and ahhs from the crowd surrounding The King. He was The Man and sellers and buyers respected him. That was back in 2004. Not sure how much has changed. That famous Yuk Woo Hin Dim Sum shop where we feasted before going rust shopping is now closed.

End Of Part 2 – continued from Part 1 in previous post.

Love Her Freckles

On this day in 2015, I met Indonesian Chinese school teacher Lix Xia when she was wandering by herself in Chinatown KL. The then stranger and tourist told me she is from exotic Cirebon and it was my first time hearing of the ancient port city in West Java. At first, I thought she meant Seremban. Haha.

I asked to take pictures of her on the street and she asked why. I told her I like her (mild) freckles. Honesty helps:-) We spoke in a mixture of English, Hokkien (Fujian) and Mandarin.

If you ever go to Cirebon, book a hotel room through me at http://www.mycen.my/agoda/

Search for Cirebon on that page and Agoda will list at least 38 hotels there.

#cirebon #java #indonesia #indonesian #chinese #freckles #tourist #chinatownkl