The Peninsula-Originally published in the Ricepaper Magazine

This piece was originally published in the Vancouver-based Ricepaper Magazine, which you can read online for free. It details my journey from Kuala Lumpur down south to Johor, before taking the Jungle Railway to Tumpat, on the edge of the East Coast, before crossing the peninsula to Georgetown, while also squeezing in a trip to Ipoh and Teluk Anson. Happy reading!


Short excerpt here:

At daybreak we arrived at the far northeast of the peninsula, at the fluid border town of Tumpat where borders dissipated, filled with southern Thais who had probably lived there for generations. I hopped off at Station Road, having been awake for the past hour after a conductor tugged at my sock to warn me of the impending arrival at the terminus. I passed behind the imam bedecked in white who handed out his laminated scriptures, and stood at the end of the corridors by the swinging doors, standing behind the smokers as we idly watched the countryside passing by, fields of green paddy interspersed by electric cables and other trains, framed by the vermilion-gold of the awakening sky.
In Tumpat I passed by shophouses and vast fields dotted and the magnificent Wat Pikulthong with its gilded Buddhas and the awnings with carved dragons and the Thai monks bedecked in orange, their expenses covered by the King of Thailand from his palace in far-off Bangkok. For a Ringgit I munched on sate from the roadside, while the portrait of the King gazed back at me from a calendar. Up north, it seemed that all the crime and desperation of the cities had vanished. Even the menacing snarl of a motorcycle was just that-a bike taking a man to work.
I hopped on a bus and was soon deposited in Kota Bharu, near the Pasar Siti Khadijah and the various palaces that once housed the royal family, which had since decamped to an isolated mansion surrounded by rows of Chinese shop-houses. I set up camp in a hostel with its rustic wooden walls and open window to the street, and began my trek through the town. I spoke so casually to policemen and Tourism Malaysia staff and snack-sellers under the great dome of thePasar, all of whom greeted me with a laid-back enthusiasm.

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