8 Nov 2003
My Dear Readers,
So I continue sending you all silly photos. I can’t seem to help
myself. I aught to be writing other things; like polishing off stories
to send in to a local newspaper or investigating more sailing magazines
which I could publish something in. But I thought I would take a little
time and enjoy myself this evening. So I will send you all a batch of
photos from the Muslim city of Terengganu. I spent a little over a week
there and had a really nice time. Well . . . . I also had a horrible time
navigating that frickin river but once I was anchored I was quite safe
and had a splendid time exploring the town and meeting interesting people.
Terengganu is located on the north east coast of Malaysia. It is the largest
city in this region which contains the most concentrated Muslim population
in Malaysia. It is a fine city and is, in general, more developed then
most small cities in Thailand. It was, strangely enough, the fashion center
for that region of Malaysia and there were more than a hundred shops selling
all kinds of silk, cotton, and polyester fabrics as well as the famous
headscarf. I actually purchased a few head scarves for my Muslim friend
back in San Diego.
I was told by a family member that if I proceeded to sail through Malaysia
I would certainly risk my life and they recommended I sail east towards
Vietnam instead. They didn’t say that I would get killed but they
certainly made it clear that that is what they expected. I didn’t
take that persons advice because he was living in the states and I was
over here in Thailand. I had also talked with quite a few tourists who
had just traveled up from Malaysia. They all raved about it. They said
the coastline was gorgeous and the people were friendly and easygoing.
They said the only down side was that alcohol was hard to find because
Muslims cannot drink. That is not to say that it was not sold. It was
just harder to find. Malaysia’s national religion is Islam but there
is still freedom of religion and the laws of the national religion are
not necessarily the laws of the government. One guy who sailed with me
for about a week in Thailand told me about an experience he had while
in Malaysia. He actually lived with a family who were Muslim for a week
or two. He said that they were totally kind to him and he never made it
a secret that he was American. Whenever people asked him, while he was
traveling through the country, where he was from, he never hesitated to
say that he was American.
These things convinced me that it would not be any more dangerous then
traveling through Thailand. What I found when I arrived in Malaysia was
exactly what had been described by those tourists. It was an amazingly
friendly country with a hell of a lot less crime than Thailand. It was
nice not to have to worry so much about theft. Even my feeble efforts
to learn Malaysian were received as if I could speak fluently. I had a
wonderful experience in that country and I would not hesitate to recommend
it as a fine destination.
I suppose I should get to the photos.
Anchored on the Terengganu River,
Was a close up on the boat after I had set the anchor a second time. The
river was running fast enough that it still pulled the boat out into the
middle of the channel even though I anchored quite far to the side. I
was not that far into the main channel so I ended up leaving the boat
where it was. As a result most of the fishing boats traveling up and down
the river would pass close by, wave and say hello. After a while I lost
count of the number of smiles and friendly faces.
Was taken from the boat in the early afternoon. I tried to capture part
of the river and the closely clustered buildings on the side of the river
next to where I was anchored. When I first arrived I wondered if I was
even in the right river because I thought that Terengganu was one of the
larger cities in that part of Malaysia but the riverfront seemed like
part of a small fishing village from a century ago.
Was the only other sailboat located on the river. I was awfully glad it
was there because it gave me an example to follow on where to anchor and
where to disembark with the dingy. It was my first river experience and
I needed all the help I could get.
The Catamaran was a very beautiful boat. It was fast as well and I was
a little jealous. I spent an evening or two with the South African couple
who were the owners and they treated me to a few cold beers. It was pleasant
to spend the afternoons out on the deck of the boats because in the river
the weather was calm, cool and incredibly pleasant. It made me think that
despite the difficulties of getting into and out of rivers, they do provide
wonderfully calm waters to hide from nasty weather, and to just chill
I spent some time exploring the quaint little china town of the city
and came across some genuinely curious shops and temples. One of the temples
was quite old and had been rebuilt several times. I took two photos of
I was startled by the incense chamber at the front gate of the temple
and I tried to capture it with part of the town in the background.
Terengganu’s Chinese Temple,
Came out well. One of the things I particularly liked about that temple
was the intensity of the red within its main chamber. There was no one
in the temple itself and I wandered around it for some 10 minutes. Out
of the few pictures I took, this one best captured that amazing red, as
well as the cool Chinese lettering on the frame of the door.
Was one of the five or so mosques in the city itself. I particularly liked
this one. I would have taken more photos but as you all know Mosques are
not open to the public so I only took
one or two shots. I like the colors in this photo.
While I was shopping in the main grocery store I met a local guy who
was quick to start up a conversation. We talked for more then a half hour
standing in one of the isles. His English was excellent and he said that
he had learned most of it through movies. He loved old classics and was
particularly fond of Spaghetti westerns and musicals with Frank Sinatra.
He had one of his daughters with him and he introduced her. To my surprise
she was not that shy and asked me several questions as well. It was a
lot of fun. He invited me over to his house for dinner the next day. I
quickly agreed and met him the next day around 5 pm.
We ate a delicious, authentically Malaysian meal and sat around afterwards
talking about all kinds of things from families to music to politics.
The Muslim and His Empire,
Is a photo of Nazarul Zaman dressed in traditional clothing and hat with
a tapestry depicting most of the Islamic territory in South East Asia.
You can also see his younger daughter in the bottom left corner of the
photo. She was adorable and bounced around the room as if on helium.
Was taken after a long talk about piracy, being an American traveling
through Malaysia, and the state of Malaysia a century ago. We both needed
a good laugh after that and so Nazarul disguised himself and I took some
photos. It struck me as both ironic and appropriate after my severe warning
from my relative. Nazarul was about the nicest guy I met on the whole
trip and I found him in the center of the most concentrated Muslim area
Is my favorite shot of Nazarul with his family. I took a few others but
this one made me laugh and I think it will make you do the same. It captured
the totally typical scene just before taking a family photo and the personalities
of each family member are so plainly obvious that it is hard not to enjoy
it. I bet you can easily place the thoughts of each member in a small
balloon above their heads.
And that ends this edition of Andy’s Photo Narrative V. I still
have about three more sets but I think I will send them off slowly over
the next month.
I hope you all are well,