Bintulu Dos

May 10, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

The second full day in Bintulu was a pretty good one. I’m sorry, I still can’t add pictures because of this silly internet connection. I slept a little later because I had a meeting at 11:00 am in my hotel. After the meeting, I finished up some work at a mall I had already been to. I knew where it was and was able to walk to it. Nice.

After working, I tried to go to a popular restaurant for lunch, only to find it closed at 2:30 p.m. Luckily, it was in the “old town” so I got to explore a new area. I like this area better than the very extensive malls area I had seen before. It was a little more “authentic” and while there were still of course stores, it was a little less modernly mall-y and more like you would imagine a town in Malaysia to be. I walked the streets for a while looking for the perfect place to eat lunch. I ended up at an “Indian and Muslim food” restaurant. That was the description they had on the front. I chose it because I hadn’t had Indian yet and there were a lot of people sitting there.

When in a new place, definitely go for the restaurants that have lots of people there. This one was almost full even though it was about 3 pm by the time I sat down. They had no menus, so I just told the server I was a vegetarian and will have whatever is something good for a vegetarian. I’ve been doing that a lot recently. I’m not actually a vegetarian and will eat pretty much everything except for hearts of palm (because those are disgusting) and white asparagus (same deal), but I simply like food without meat and usually feel more comfortable not eating meat.

I like fish, but recent encounters with all sorts of fish sauces and fermented and pickled fish condiments and ridiculous fish smells at some of the markets have turned me off fish/fish flavored things at least in places here in northern Borneo. I’ve learned that you never know when some (gross) fish stuff is going to sneak into your meal. I’m amazed that these fish items (sauces, condiments, dried fish snacks, sambal) are so popular here. The look and smell of them makes me absolutely nauseated, and they are everywhere. This is one major difference between my culture and this culture. They eat fishy stuff with everything.

Back to the restaurant. I got some iced green tea in a can, and then realized I was sitting next to some extremely smelly trash and a worse smelly drainage thing that was running on that side of the restaurant, so I moved tables and used the approaching sun as an excuse. The seating area was outside.

At this new table, I got some roti canai which is like a flat bread but also like a pancake and much thinner than Naan, and some dipping sauce and some cooked greens. It was not very much food but it was pretty delicious. A family sat down next to me and after I was done eating I just sat there for a while and watched other people eat. I realized I had eaten “incorrectly,” from observations it looks like you’re supposed to cut a piece of the roti ripping it apart with the spoon and fork provided, and then dip it in the sauce using the fork and then eat it. I did more of a ripping the roti and spooning the sauce onto it thing but no one seemed to mind.

After lunch, I walked a little more and came across a cool and beautiful temple with some insane sticks of incense burning. I walked up the stairs and into it because no one said I couldn’t. There was an abundance of things burning like candles and incense and prayer papers in a stone area at this temple. I wish I could show a picture now because it was very awesome! I took off my shoes because that’s what you do and walked in to find beautiful designs, tones of candles and some alters and what looked like an offering of eggs, nice looking fruit, rice noodles, and sauces. I asked one person what the fruit was for and she said she didn’t know. I asked anther person and she said the fruit was for the dragons (there were pictures of dragons in the temple). I didn’t see any men in the temple and am wondering if that’s just a coincidence.

Walking out of the temple, I recognized a part of the promenade that I had taken a walk on yesterday, and walked on that all the way back to the hotel. Right before the promenade, there was a market. At one stall, they were selling what looked like two kinds of coconuts. I asked the people at the stall what was the difference between the two coconuts and one man said that one was young and one was old. I was happy to find out this information, but a little shocked to see that his fingers were twitching, the exact same twitch I recognize from my Zadie when his Parkinson’s just started to become visible. This man was young-middle aged and looked very healthy, and it was very upsetting because of what was going to happen to him in the years to come. I gave him a big smile and thanked him for the information and tried to forget about it.

The walk along the promenade was gorgeous, first past some boats fishing boats. It was a little smelly near the market inside the harbor because the water is really dirty there, but that subsided as I made my way to the hotel. I got back, dropped my stuff off, and went out to the promenade again for some power walking and skipping and dancing and stretching, this time with my iPod. I listened to one of my brothers swag mixes and worked up a sweat.

Hope you are doing well.

Love, Annie


One Response to “Bintulu Dos”

  1. beautiful post Annie. It made me cry thinking about zadie and then imagining you walking/hopping/dancing down the promenade.

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