KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
If you’re one of the hardy, and you’ve been reading all of my recent journal entries about our travels in Malaysia, you will have noticed that the word Kuala keeps popping up in the names of some of the cities and towns we’ve visited. I first learned that kuala means place where a tributary joins a major river when I was reading about the Kuala Lumpur.
The capital sits at the junction of the Klang and Gombak, and in 1857, newly arrived Chinese prospectors searching for tin came up with the name, meaning muddy confluence. Before a month was out, most had died of malaria and other tropical diseases, but the lure of riches from mining set the stage for a future boomtown.
I was a little more than puzzled when we drove along the east coast and arrived at Kuala Terengganu, expecting it too to be situated at a significant confluence of two rivers. Instead, I found it flourished at the mouth of the Terengganu River. I looked up the meaning of kuala, and found that it can also mean river mouth. Then we passed through Kuala Lipis, where we encountered significant flooding threatening the town, situated at the confluence of the Lipis and Jelai Rivers.
It’s easy to see why many of these towns, and even the capital, are often referred to by their initials: KT, and KL.
We had ended a very successful week of driving through the central Malaysian peninsula and managed to see some of the beautiful eastern coast, but we were happy to return the car at the airport and set off to explore the large island of Borneo. We had been welcomed by the residents of Chinatown in Kuala Terengganu and enlightened by all we learned about the region while visiting the State Museum, but we were especially charmed by the beauty of the architecture at the airport.
I can’t remember seeing airport buildings that so completely reflected the structures of the traditional culture since our visit to the island of Koh Samui, Thailand in 2005. For a moment It seemed like we had arrived at another impressive museum.
Our short flight to Kuala Lumpur was the first of seven flights we would take over the next eight days. We really took advantage of the 20% seat sale offered by Air Asia, though their flights are so unbelievably low already, we probably would have zipped around Malaysia had there not been a sale. We landed at the capital’s airport after a short flight and set off to have lunch before our flight to Brunei.
We were delighted to see an Indian restaurant at the airport, one that was just hopping with customers. That would mean the food was pretty fresh as there was a lot of it being consumed. The restaurant had quite a tiny seating area, so we were forced to leave our cart full of luggage, just outside the window where we could keep a good eye on it.
We lingered over our lunch and Anil returned to order a mango lassi, as we had some time to kill. When we were finally ready to make our way to the check in counter, we were shocked to see that our cart was gone. It’s seemed that ALL our luggage was now orphaned! Anil set off in one direction and David in another.
I was in a real panic because my laptop and all our electronics were in my carry-on bag, sitting on top of the suitcases. What had I been thinking; I always keep it right by my side? Before I had a chance to get myself in a real state, I could see a young man coming towards the restaurant, pushing our cart. It seems that he was part of a group of Indian tourists sitting at the next table.
They had parked their cart beside ours, and he had walked away with the wrong one. As soon as he realized his own suitcase wasn’t on the cart, he came back to join his sisters. We all had a laugh, but I can’t tell you how relieved I was. I do use a backup hard drive, but it was in Anil’s suitcase, and it’s possible, everything could have disappeared. PHEW!