Date I was there: 25-28 June 2010
My travel buddy and I awoke late (again) to find that the family had gone out for Friday prayers. When they returned, we went out for some more Penang Fried Kway Teow before heading back to pack for the wedding. The family had invited us along to their nephew’s wedding. It was to be the first Islamic wedding I had ever been to and I was excited to watch the ceremony. We all climbed into the car at around 5pm and four hours, and one Baskin Robbins stop, later we arrived at Johor Bahru and settled down to a dinner of seafood fried rice and line juice with the extended family, in front of more World Cup fun.
Later, we were shown the bride’s gifts for the next day. Apparently, the groom’s family present the bride with presents and vice versa. Hers were all presented on stands, decorated with gold, and ranged from perfume to shoes and chocolates. I’m now expecting the same at my own (imaginary) wedding.
The early start was a bit of a shock after all our lie-ins but at 6.30am we were up and tucking into our breakfast of noodles, fried eggs and a red bean soup. I wasn’t too keen on the latter. After, I threw on my new maxi dress and threw a scarf around my shoulders, despite the blistering heat, and fastened it into place with my corsage.
On our arrival at the bride’s house, where the ceremony was taking place, we were presented with breakfast number two; vats of curries. It was a good start to the day. Then it was the time for the ceremony. Obviously, it was in Malay so we couldn’t understand what was happening. We also wanted to keep to the back so that the family could get the best view. The bride was beautiful in heavy dress and all made up. I have no idea how she looked so put together, whilst I was melting.
Afterwards, it was photo time and we were encouraged to have photos with the happy couple, who obviously didn’t really know who we were, but we did. It was then nap time back at the hotel which provided a welcome relief from the sun, before heading back for the afternoon activities.
We arrived back at the house with the groom’s family and then proceeded to march from the cars, with the groom in front and people carrying the gifts behind. The bride was waiting at the entrance to the tent and the groom was met outside by some boys banging drums, a group of local men who did a martial arts performance (apparently the idea was to make it harder for the groom to reach his new wife) and a band of children doing state dances.
It was interesting to watch but I can’t deny that afterwards we ran away from the heat and threw ourselves in seats underneath a fan. Then lunch was served, whilst the bride and groom sat on throne-like chairs, with family members fanning them. As they sat there, we tucked into our food before it was time for more photos. As we left, we were given wedding favours of fruit, sweets and an egg representing fertility. It had been an eye-opening day but, again, we were happy to be met with the air-conditioned car on our way back to Kuala Lumpur. We arrived back at the house, after another Baskin Robbins stop-off, and settled down to a dinner of Domino’s pizza, BBQ chicken wings, onion rings, garlic bread and football. It had undeniably been a very good day.
Being back in KL meant back to our lie-in routine. After we finally decided to get out of bed, we headed back to the Sunway Pyramid Mall, using the excuse that it was too hot to do anything outside. We made some unnecessary purchases (including a sweater) and some class Penguin books, including Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytales- which I proceeded to lose en route to Vietnam. At least they were cheap. We then ended up at a Japanese pasta place for a lunch of cheesy rice with chicken and mushroom.
Later, after we were picked up, we went to Coca Restaurant for the Steamboat buffet. Basically it was a pot on our table full of chicken, fish, fish balls, vegetables and green noodles, which cooked on the table. Oh, and it also had jellyfish in it. That was a new one. It didn’t really taste of too much, just hard to get a grip on. Our trip was slowly being dominated by football- as you may have noticed- and we made it back in time for that night’s England game.
The next day was the day we were leaving Malaysia. We went off for a breakfast of nasi kandar before it was time to head to the airport and fly to Vietnam.
Sitting in the airport, I read the Free Book my travel buddy had picked up from a girl in Cairns. Basically, the idea is that you read it and leave it for someone else to pick up. You register online to say where you’ve left it and to mark its journey, which, in our books case, started in Dublin in 2006. I can only wonder where it is now.