Friday, June 11, 2010

Kota Bharu

I spent yesterday on the jungle line railway from Jerantut to Kota Bharu. It felt better looking at the beautiful dense jungle from behind a moving window than it felt trekking through it.

Arrived late last night and had to settle for a fleapit to sleep in. Cockroaches on the windowsill next to the bed! Actually I slept really well but still left to find a better hotel. I tried ten places before I found somewhere that wasn't full, apparently due to school holidays but I suspect some anti-westerner sentiment (all those kids wanting hotels?).

It hasn't escaped me that today is the start of The Most Important Event In The Universe. Malaysians are fanatic about football and World Cup merchandise and places to watch it are everywhere. I love football too so I'm going to enjoy traveling through soccer-mad Asia watching it with everyone. Every four years I tell myself it's just a game and that national teams are not as good as clubs so it shouldn't be taken seriously, but I always find myself getting excited and watching almost every game. Spain are the favourites with Brazil and Argentina also favoured. I always hope England will win but can't see it happening. They seem more disorganised than last time. With some luck, New Zealand might make it through the group stage. I'll be watching the opening match between South Africa and Mexico tonight at 10pm at a local cafe with a big screen TV.

A cafe in Kota Bharu that I didn't go to.

The reception counter at Hotel Anda where I'm staying.


  1. Unless you are miles ahead of the competition, the way to win the world cup in just about any sport is to fiddle around in the early stages and then come good when the important games happen. England's disorganisation won't count against them necessarily. Their lack of talent may well do, however ...

    Even I follow the WC, albeit not very closely. It's a mild diversion, but hardly test cricket at Lord's, is it?

  2. Your diagnosis of England's problems is the exact opposite of reality. They have talent in abundance - Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard are world class would earn a place in any club in the world. It's just that getting a team that works together is beyond any coach. Same problem in 98, 02, and 06. It's that disorganization - in the sense of not being able to organize the team in the 4 years since last WC - that again is happening.

    I like cricket too. Surely the two sports are incomparable because so different: a 5 day bat and ball game vs a two hour ball-kicking game. Football and rugby are at least relevantly similar for us to say the first is better than the second. How many times have you been to Lords then?

  3. Best web site I can find for the World Cup is BBC Cup Site-will keep you in the picture as you travel. What is always amazing is the universal popularity of soccer-in the remote jungles you will always find a screen!

  4. When i was at Taman negara we visited a tiny village of the local Asri people who have a different language and culture of the Malays. Bamboo huts, no electricity, just live beside the river. One boy was wearing an England/ Rooney shirt and another a Beckham shirt though!

  5. You should see if you can give them a Greene shirt. ; -)