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[RC] Day 2 in Kedah, Malaysia - Steph Teeter

or is it day 3? ... days blur after 30+ hours of travel, night is day, day
is night.
This day started very early. Both Merri and I woke up at 4:30am (who knows
what time that would be in the US) and decided we might as well get up. The
internet wasn't working so we fiddled with the computers some and had coffee
in the room.

I decided I'd had enough sitting (travelling is mostly about sitting) and
needed to get some excersize. The hotel reception guy (another nice young
Malay) said the hotel didn't have an excersize room, and it might be better
to wait a little bit before jogging the streets, so I did the staircase - 5
times up and down from basement to 8th floor, a little  boring but so early
in the morning there's not a lot of brain activity anyway.. and it felt very
very good to work up a sweat and get physically tired. After the last trip
down, I decided to go outside anyway. Still very dark, but warm. A little
activity in the streets. I jogged a little, and then just stopped to take it
all in. Malaysia, warm, humid, sweet smelling. Chinese lanterns hanging in
front of a house/restaurant, trees casting very black shadows, jungle
feeling even in the city. A rooster started crowing off to one side, and
then the Islam call to prayer came over a distant loudspeaker. Wow, all the
senses were filled.

We had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel - buffet - we had to guess at some
of the foods, but Merri is as adventurous as I am, so it's fun to try it all
together. Some vegetables in curry coconut milk, a wonderful peanut sauce, a
rice porridge with assorted condiments (looked a little too fishy for
breakfast), some wonderful fried bread - like Indian nan, with a curry sauce
to put over it. I like the food here very much, a lot more Thai influence
than Terennganu. Kedah borders Thailand to the North, only 30 miles to the
border.

At 10am Shah came to pick us up. We have a Liason Officer, Ahmod Shah, a 23
year old student of International Affairs at the University in Kedah. He
will be getting Univerisity credit for his time working for the Kedah Royal
International Endurance Ride, helping with the foreign guests. Very nice
guy, (all the Malays are nice!), and his job is to see to it that we are
settled in, find our way around, get what we need, etc. This morning Shah
and the driver took us out to the Pusat Equin (Equestrian Park) Darulaman.
Darul Aman means 'city of peace', Kedah Darul Aman is the full title to this
state (sultanate) of Malaysia. Also know as the 'rice bowl' of Malaysia.

We were hoping we might be able to ride at the Darulaman Park Pusat Equin,
but ended up just visiting. Ar Raudah, the stable outside of Kuala Lumpur
which hosts the Edaran Classic, is here in force - they brought over 23
horses for the event. Four 8 hour trips by truck to bring them all here. I
recognized most of the stable hands from before, they had their hands full
with all of the horses - excersizing, feeding, bathing. The Edaran Classic
is the FEI event hosted at Ar Raudah by Edaran Digital Systems. The
Edaran-Endurance folks have been the primary organization behind the Royal
Kedah event, helping them set up the course, manage all facets of the
event - including trail, timers, etc. They have been busy! They also helped
with the Terennganu Sultan's Cup. Tansri Tajuddin's company (Edaran), his
patronage of the sport, his loyalty to HRH Misan (the new Malaysian King) is
making a huge difference to the sport of Endurance in Malaysia, and to the
success of their bid for the 2008 WEC. Very professional and competent, and
after 4 years of managing the Edaran Classic, a world class event in itself,
very experienced.

And while at the Equestrian Center, I heard that HRH Misan placed 2nd at an
Invitational 160km ride in Doha,Qatar, and another Malaysian rider finished
3rd. So HRH Misan now has his COC (FEI Certificate of Capability) and is
qualified for the 2008 WEC. It's not every country whose King rides
Endurance! This is a very big deal for Malaysia, and for the sport.

After spending time at the park, and a quick curry for lunch in the open air
eating area (everything here is open air it seems - no need for walls!) we
went to see the Museum Paddi - the Rice Museum. It was fantastic!! Kedah is
well know for its rice production, both historically and currently, and this
was a fantastic museum tribute to the states agronomy. The museum is 4 years
old, a project of the Kedah Sultan. The top floor is a huge revolving
theatre, where viewers in the center can sit or stand and watch as a
beautiful mural appears to revolve around them. The designers incorporated
actual props (rocks, trees, sheds) in the foreground with an incredibly
realistic and seemingling 3-dimensional painting in the background, floor to
ceiling, which depicts the landscape in perfect perpective and accuracy as
if one were standing in one point and turning a slow circle to see 360
degrees of Kedah life and landscape. And in addition the landscape changes
seasons as one revolves, from golden rice harvest time, to wet monsoon
planting seasons, and scenes from Kedah 'life' - the harvests, markets,
social times. One of the most incredible things I've seen. We were totally
in awe.

After the museum we wound our way back to the hotel, our driver took us by a
pretty park, where we sampled 'rojak' a wonderful mix of pineapple, mango,
cucumber, some crunchy type of chinese fruit, and a mango/soy sauce, topped
with nuts. A Malay favorite, and very tasty. We had cold drinks, a stroll
through the park, with towering Jawi trees (roots and branches intertwined
and indistinguishable) spreading up and out, so very jungly...

Back to the hotel, back to the computers and internet. Merri is working on
the photos she took, I've been catching up on email and gettin the Royal
Kedah page updated. We ordered up a couple of Tiger beers. Thinking about
wandering outside soon, to walk the streets and look for something to eat,
maybe another pair of shoes...

later,

Steph


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