Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 20 2010

Back in KL

February 19, 2010

Another brilliant morning in Penang; we had breakfast at a blue-tiled restaurant downtown among the old estates that seem to line each road, some housing fast food restaurants and some tire shops. This one served noodle soup and sweet herbal tea. Then we all drove to the Burmese temple, which is right across the street from the Thai temple. The Burmese temple had cool, breezy pavilions and monks sitting in armchairs, as well as a cool monument with all of the 12 animals of the zodiac represented in their proper order, including the animal each is “opposed” to. The Thai temple had a giant reclining Buddha that was filled with the ashes of dead people in urns, which freaked Chenbl out a little. As if this weren’t spooky enough, I discovered that some crude-looking statues of monks were actually their dead bodies, covered in a rather slapdash fashion in gold plating. Damn. This kind of freaked me out a little, especially the parts they missed, not-insignificant parts such as the eyes. We decided it was time to hit the road.

After passing the time on the long bridge back to the mainland by photographing some Malaysian bears on motorcycles, we stopped by Gimzui’s sparsely appointed apartment near an industrial complex. Gimzui was interrogating Chenbl about whether there were any ghosts there, as he felt it kind of spooky. I think the reason it was kind of spooky was because it was nearly empty, as well as the fact that it was in an industrial area. A place doesn’t need ghosts to be spooky.

Our next stop was an Indian barbershop. I’d heard about the delights of Indian barbershops, and I haven’t seen a barbershop in a while; the heat of this region makes long hair a burden, so it seemed an opportune time for a haircut. The actual haircut didn’t take long, the barber, a dark-skinned man in a white uniform, humming along to the Indian music playing as I stared up at the mini disco ball hanging from the ceiling. He trimmed my beard, shaved my cheeks and neck, and then beat me soundly about the head in a very satisfying fashion. This involved the application of several coats of various liquids and gels, many of which were obtained from a small refrigerator in the corner. The whole process, including washing, took over an hour, and it was probably the best haircut I’ve ever had. All for the same price as a haircut and wash in Taipei.

We had a lunch of Chinese noodles at a nearby shop, and then it was the highway back to Kuala Lumpur, stopping only a couple of times at rest stops. Along the way, Chenbl continued his habit of pointing out which Malaysian buildings would never withstand an earthquake in Taiwan.

Back in KL, we stopped by at one of the Malaysian’s luxury apartment in a ritzy neighborhood. Such are the varieties of the real estate market that it cost about half of what my place in Bitan cost, though it’s about twice as large and newer. The Muslim chanting started up as the last vestiges of the sunset abandoned the horizon, floating through the open windows as the owner of the place questioned Chenbl about the resident ghost, who apparently means no harm and should “just be ignored.”

We went to Chinatown for dinner of earthworm-ish Fukien noodles in an alley bordering a cloth shop. The area is full of backpackers and hostels, and I’m not sure if it’s the safest area, seeing as men there often stalk the owners of recently parked cars and demand “protection money.”

I haven’t been able to get my Thinkpad online at Ah-lin’s yet, though my iPhone seems willing enough. We’re flying to Laos tomorrow. Should be interesting to see what that’s like.

posted by Poagao at 8:56 am  

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