The South China Sea in View

We’ve arrived in Terenggamu, on Malaysia’s eastern coast, and we are staying in the Primula Beach resort here. The town is decidedly more conservative and poorer than KL, we see that in that nearly all the women are wearing headscarves and there are fewer high rises and more shacks. The market was full of the local specialties, long grey sausages made of flour and fish, and bags of fish and squid chips. I saw three or four amputees, making their way through the market, one armless man being rolled home by his two young sons. In the room is the prayer schedule for July, showing times for exactly when the five prayers must be said, and a plaque pointing the way to mecca.

Our guide told us that Malaysia’s moslems have a new campaign to bring their fellow followers to the country to see how they manage to live peacefully as Chinese, Indian and Malay. “We want to show these people that if you preach hate, you get hate, and if you preach love, you get love.” Our guide Sohima, a man who talks in a very soft voice, told us that 60 percent of the schools here were private. There are many madrassahs, or religious schools, here too, he said.

The South China sea slopes steeply off this coast, making swimming hazardous. One of our fellow travelers said she saw two big pipes leading out to the beach, probably sewer outflow, so it might be best to swim in the pool and not the sea. I do want to dip my toe in there, just to know what it feels like.

This part of Malaysia is more laid back, our guide said, people don’t work as hard, The West coast is much different from the East, he said, we take it slower and relax.