A Fleeting Glimpse of a King and a Bird Zoo

Today’s first stop was the ornate palace of the king. Outside the guilded gates, soldiers stood in crisp uniforms, leaning against silver guns, while tourists snapped photos of their relatives hanging out next to the men. Other guards sat on horseback, while click, click went the cameras. The gates suddenly opened, and we heard the crackle of activity…the king was coming! In short order a motorcade of about 10 white Honda motorcycles zoomed up, and behind that, the royal Mercedes with the yellow flag on the roof. Inside a figure waved to us through darkened windows, and they zoomed up the long driveway into the palace.

Later we drove through the city’s bird park, the world’s largest. A canopy held up by long poles covered a forest, inside were hundreds of species of birds. There is also a smaller set-up like this for butterflies. We drove past a very modern looking mosque, with a nine-sided turquoise roof. Then on to Chinatown, where a cacaphony of touts beckoned us with DVDs of recent releases for about three bucks. “Please sir you want, you want movie, what you want?” I resisted them but did find a cute little metal miniature of the Petronas twin towers that I’d seen at the tower dinner last night…but this one was only 10 Ringats, about seven bucks.

My radar is keen and so of course I managed to find this little internet cafe, tucked into the back of a hotel where my compatriots are having coffee and beer. Here the cost is 6 RM per hour, about $2.75. I’ll bring back some sort of souvenir for our new collection of worldwide internet cafe memorabilia for our South Deerfield cafe.

The humidity hits you when you get back outside, and the noise and hustle bustle is startling. We are heading for Malacca tonight, where they’ve warned about pirates who terrorize ships in the shipping lanes. But I am not afraid.