We enter the clothing section of Billion in Langkawi Fair shopping center where employees dress in department store uniforms, yellow t-shirts with emblems, their hair and necks covered with Muslim hijabs. Barely clad women in underwear advertisements surround them (photo, right). It is the only time during months in Langkawi that we see such a stark contrast to the Muslim ideal of feminine modesty.
Then we cannot help staring when we see 20 or so beds covering the main floor of the mall. People lie on the beds as shoppers walk around them to stores. The people on the beds are donors, giving their blood in a public place.
The white sheets on the beds contrast with the lime green tunics of teenage boys in school uniform swarming around them. Alongside the boys covered in shiny material, girls in red and black school uniforms, long skirts and hijabs, are also helping with the blood drive.
Earlier that day, the walk begins from our apartment building, Seri Lagenda Tower. We walk past the violet and crimson colors of bougainvillea. The flowers contrast with different shades of green; light green banana leaves blend with the darker green of palm fronds. With mountains as a backdrop, we head downtown.
|As usual the lady at the fruit stand greets us, "You want banana?"|
Motorcycles whiz past us as we walk. So, be careful not to collide with them. Women wearing long skirts and hair coverings drive some of the motorcycles. Motorcycle helmets top their bright pink and turquoise Muslim outfits.
We are also careful to avoid stepping on garbage as we walk on the dirt next to the asphalt road. Mangled cans mix with dusty plastic bottles.
|Charisse manicures the only hand a woman has left after feeding crocodiles|
Charrice wears a short print dress, blue contact lenses, and orange-tinted hair. She fills the small store with laughter as she attends her sister Ivy’s business. The store displays fishnet stockings, tops with plunging necklines, and bouncy, round mini-skirts, a clothing collection unique in Kuah.
|Rows of motorcycles glisten in the sunshine in downtown Kuah|
Earlier, Charrice had told me about her. About six years ago, just for fun, the woman decided to feed crocodiles a fish dinner at the Langkawi Crocodile Farm. However, an animal also ate one of her hands as well as part of her arm, just below the elbow. According to Charrice, the woman accepts her condition as her destiny. (For more about the crocodile farm, see story under older posts, “Langkawi Crocodiles no Longer under Curse.”)
As we leave the store, we take out our umbrellas to shade us from the sun. We are a mere 800 kilometers ( about 500 miles ) from the equator. It is about 86 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. Our light, cotton clothes stick to us. The women covered in garments from head to toe do not seem to perspiring as they walk past us.
|The statue of the Langkawi eagle towers over the Andaman Sea|
Story & photos by Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter, Copyright, 2011
KUAH PHOTO WALK TO BE CONTINUED FEB. 15
|School girls volunteer for a blood drive in uniforms like those in this photo from Satun, Thailand|