“Can I see your pictures of Johor,” asked the lady at the hotel reception. I showed her the five pictures I had taken. Even I was disappointed.
So Aunt Anne said it was time to go for an excursion, and fleece out Johor “with some bloody decent pictures.”
I noticed she left her Nikon in her room. I packed my Canon, and when we approached a market, I told her to have a try at the Canon, and see if it compares with her Nikon.
I’m a sly dog, but things were looking pretty desperate on the Far Side. A confession to Aunt Anne, which made her resolve to snap a few photos stronger. “Over the ten times I’ve come to Malaysia, I’ve never taken one photo of a Malay.”
Action speaks louder than words. “We really need to girly up the site,” I suggested to Aunt Anne, and she rose to the occasion by taking photos of shoes and head scarfs. “I’m suppose to be taking photos and not buying bloody things,” she said.
A giant duck took her attention. Get the Chinese writing in, I suggested. I told her how to manipulate the manual setting. “You see you got to jiggle the F stop and let in the aperture. ” She stuck to automatic mode, “which is just fine for me.”
Jeffrey, the Singaporean Cowboy took her photographic fancy. And Jeffrey, who married a Johor woman, and use to me a merchant seaman now in his early seventies – but looking fitter than Auntie’s chain-smoking and coffee guzzling nephew – proudly shows off his one year grand-daughter. He worked at an Indian Video shop. He didn’t mind being photographed, and half an hour later, I spotted the fat blonde who arrived to Malaysia with us a few days, and Anne said lets follow her. ” You just want to buy more stuff at the market, ” I said.
The DVD stall was blasting Bait, a newly released block buster, and on the other TV, a Malaysian movie was blasting. And the staff would scream, yell , and carry on, all in the spirit of attracting customers.. After Aunt Anne took some photos, I noticed their stall became busy with punters. I said where was my cut for bringing in the customers.
Before I had to wade home from the 98 percent humidity, we passed a stall that sold marshmallows and chocolate syrup. The woman said she was a Johorian. No one knocked back our requests to take photos, and Aunt Anne got so much into the mood, that she took photos of traffic and motor bikes that were parked. She got excited when she took a photo of one motor bike that was leaving the car park. She even found a drain that took her fancy.
Johor is colorful and friendly and this is our little tribute to a city that we adore. “It’s got more of a Port feel to it, ” said Anne. I agreed, and added that explains why there are so many whore houses and Viagra stands around the area we are staying at. I got no response from her, and we both decided that this post card should be family friendly.
The photo session carried on the next morning at our local Indian place. Our milk tea was served on the table and a maggot parachuted onto our table. I found a piece of hair in the banana roti, but no maggots. “Never mind, ” said Aunty, who was in a mischievous mood this morning, ” at least it could supplement your low protein diet.”
The maggot has crawled away, and a salesman comes up to our table after we finished our fourth round of tea. He handed us a brochure for a massage machine. Then his partner, who was close behind, got the massage machine out and gave me a back rub, adding la at the end of every superlative sentence on the amazing portable massage machine that “runs off thee A 4 batteries la.”
It’s now late at night and a lady boy in thongs with gray streaks and short skirt , morose and reading a short note a 1000 times separated by a cigarette butt. A white headed Indian man with a beard, summons the waitress and scans the crowd. It’s a chunk of each meets sky with a ports raffish let live, dark above and a jumble of faces and voices below. In the faces, India meets Malaya, meets China, meets Arabia. But there’s no African or European faces to be seen. This is at the Spice Empire Center.
Lady boy left, leaving an uneaten place of rice, a bowl, a crumpled sheet of newspaper, one above and below the table amid the butts, the empty cigarette packets and tissues. Stall holder uncertain whether to clear table, but the ladyboy has moved on from sitting two piles chairs high.
I would have killed to know what was in those notes.
Food here is short on vegetable. It’s rice and protein (plus plus — maggots). Sorted out payment with notes held out and when some said minnum, and couldn’t understand my accent I wrote it my notebook in big letters for them – AIR- and under it, water, to dispel any misunderstanding. The bottle came with ice in a yellow cup with a blue straw and delivered by a woman in a red t-shirt. It was a blast of color that brightened the night.
Photo shoot at the market over, Aunt Anne is now resting. We have an early flight to Cambodia tomorrow. “Now be a good boy, and get a hair cut.”
I did, and the Indian guy was great, and only charged me 15 Ringit, and I video-ed it. I can hear Aunt Anne saying to “be a good boy and pack your bags.”
Good idea. Another day, maybe I’ll go into these amazing hair dressers from India, and I’m not talking about the ones that are usually up on the second floor, that are fronts for knocking shops. I haven’t done enough homework to be qualified to write about such a seedy subject.
Besides, it’s a “Splash the Far Side with Pink” Day.
- Jahor, Jahor, she croons (farsidetravel.net)