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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Part 2: Photo Walk in Kuah Focuses on Surprises

                               CONTINUED FROM LAST STORY
After we meet a woman who was getting a manicure on the only hand she has left after a crocodile ate the other one ( see previous post ), we walk down the street to an outdoor market.
A street in Kuah, Langkawi is suddenly transformed into a market. Peddlers set up tables with canvas roofs to sell their wares.
A Malaysian flag flies by a stall at the end of the street. It matches the building behind it. The exterior of the Baron Hotel is painted just like a Malaysian flag (top left photo).
We stroll down the street with pedestrian traffic only. It is lively with the colors of green beans, papayas, and bananas (top right photo).
We stop at a booth where a man is selling a remedy to alleviate aches. In small glass jars, dark herbs swim in red liquid.
On a bulletin board with Chinese characters, he displays photos of himself as a young trapeze artist in a circus. The man points to the photos, clenches his hand into a fist, punches himself softly, then rubs the medicine on the spot where he punched himself. I guess he is describing how the medicine cured him from injuries he suffered in the circus.
He offers me a whiff; it smells like Vicks. I buy the remedy; eventually I may have a use for it.
Next, we stop at a booth that displays JV whitening pearl cream, saffron sandal soap, and about 20 more products. Claims that they whiten the skin are written on their wrappers. I can read the English, but not the Malay, Arabic, or Thai on the wrappers. I ask the man selling the cosmetics if the products really whiten skin. He replies with a hearty laugh.
Some stalls offer ready-made Muslim-style hair coverings (photo above) and jewels to adorn hijabs for 1 ringgit ( 33 cents ); others display handmade straw purses, fez hats, fried chicken nuggets, and chicken curry.
Now we are determined to cool off for the day, so we head to the sea at the other end of Kuah. We pass billboards with photos of the sultan and sultana of Kedah (photo, right). We watch dozens of monkeys traipsing on electric wires.We carefully avoid open sewers that run next to some sidewalks (bottom photo). Sometimes, we step over sewers on cement slabs placed on top of them.
Finally we arrive at the Westin Resort & Spa. From the top of a hill, we see fountains, ponds, and pools cascading towards the sea (photo, right). We follow the water trail to the resort’s beach. Hotel employees offer us towels, mistaking us for guests because our skin is white.
After a dip in the sea, we swim in the pools. Then we lounge in the jacuzzi and sauna in the fitness center. We relish the balmy air, now that the temperature has cooled to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In the dark we trot home on a narrow, tile sidewalk, just wide enough for one person to walk at a time.
Suddenly, as I step on the sidewalk my entire body is jarred. For a few seconds, I don’t know what happened. Then I feel intense pain from banging my shins and a knee against cement. I realize I have fallen into a hole in the sidewalk, about two feet down into an open sewer. I feel the sewage covering my ankles. I notice that I splashed myself with sewage above the knees.
When I climb out of the hole, I am glad when I realize I am across the street from the ferry station. I walk to a bathroom in the station, dripping sewage and blood. I use a hose to wash my feet, legs, flip flops, and the deep cuts bleeding on my toes. The muezzin from the mosques chant the last prayers of the evening, broadcast clearly throughout the ferry station, “Allah ’u’ aqbar….”
I do not want to walk any more; now I am afraid of open sewers in Kuah. We go to the taxi stand at the ferry station and take a cab home.
The next day I review the sewer incident again and again in my mind. I am torn between feeling disgust at falling into sewage and laughing about the unexpected experience. I also find a use for the magic medicine from the market.
Story and photos by Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter, copyright 2011

Parts 1 & 2 of “Photo Walk in Kuah Focuses on Surprises” are experiences fused together from different walks in Kuah.


  1. C.....your posts are truly informative.

    Dave S

  2. yikes, carol, i'm glad you didn't break anything! humor helps alot, but i can imagine what confusion you felt, and the cringe as you realized what had happened. where are you now?jane

  3. Infrastructure is important as your encounter proves....lucky to be alive.....this type of incident will become more prevalent in the USA in the future as they continue to cut wasteful spending....HA! Evelina