Raub, the City of Lights

I write this title only slightly tongue-in-cheek.  Raub is definitely not Paris, but because Raub wants very much to boost its tourism economy, strands of twinkling lights hang in the trees and brighten up the night.  I find it very charming; they remind me of Christmas lights year-round!

Raub is a bustling little town, with surprisingly heavy traffic during rush hour.  And while we’re on the topic of driving in Malaysia, I would like to discuss a few topics:

My motorbike, affectionately named “D.W.”

1. Traffic in Malaysia is much more fluid than traffic in the USA.  Cars weave and out of lanes, motorcycles drive in an invisible lane located on the edge of the road, and drivers seem to pay more attention to what is going on around them. “Do not pass” markings are amusing and helpful suggestions, but usually ignored. Turn lane? No, that’s a passing lane. Unmarked speed bumps are common (and painful). Goats and cows occasionally wander along the side of the road.  Lorries and logging trucks have no regard for human life, especially unfortunate souls on motorbikes. Thankfully, speed limits are in km/hr rather than mph, so the rate that people weave and dodge is at a reasonable speed.

2. In Malaysia, cars are driven on the left side of the road.  This was confusing to me at first (which was a problem when coming to a four-way intersection and having a brief moment of terror because OMG I don’t know what lane I should be in), but after several months of living here, I’m used to it.  I’m now briefly alarmed when I watch American movies/TV that feature characters driving on the right side of the road.  It seems so… unnatural now.

3. Weaving in and out of traffic on a motorbike is really, really funDriving in general seems to be less of a chore than an adventure. And I don’t think that’s just because hardly anyone wears seat belts. Well, that might have something to do with it.

IF YOU ARE A STUDENT READING THIS: Please, please, please, always wear your motorbike helmet.  No excuses. Your brain is too important and accidents on bikes are way too common.

It rained soon after this picture was taken.

Raub is one of the oldest cities in Pahang. The city is known for its gold mining, and has had an Australian presence in the community since 1889, with the formation of the Raub Australian Gold Mine. A few weeks ago, I accidentally found the gold mine after taking a wrong turn on my motorbike.  Locals who haven’t read about ETAs in the newspapers (there are a few!) usually assume I’m Australian.

Chin, Jenna, and me at the Fun Fair. We were on a train getting ready to go inside a “haunted house.” It consisted of one person in black jumping out at us and yelling. It wasn’t exactly the experience I was expecting, but it was fun.

I can find most anything that I need in the city (with the exception of coffee filters, flat sheets, ant traps, dried beans, normal milk, and mac & cheese).  We have a KFC, a few coffee shops, photo developing places, school supplies, computer stores, and a Marry Brown (Malaysian fast food chain).  When we first arrived, a Fun Fair was in town, which reminded me of the Alexandria (World’s) Fair, the local county fair that I go to every year at home. One of my favorite things in the city is Taman Tasik, a lake with a walking/jogging path around it. My plan (now that I’m at the halfway point in my stay) is to get myself motivated enough to go there to run. You know what they say, “Eat nasi goreng (fried rice), become nasi goreng.”

Taman Tasik.

Hey, that’s not a raccoon… AfterI scolded this one, he hooted, crossed the road, and climbed on the roof of my house. Monkey: 1. Nicole: 0.

Dragon fruit plantation.

The neighborhood that I live in feels very much like Malaysia’s version of suburbia.  Jungle and plantations surround the area. The plantations are for palm oil and rubber trees, and there are some smaller plantations for dragon fruit and durian.  Palm oil is a very important industry to Malaysia and brings in a lot of profit to the country, and rubber tapping is a very common profession.  Many of my students’ parents are rubber tappers.

The ride home from SMK Dong.

My school, SMK Dong, is located in Dong, which is about 20 km from where I live in Raub. I still have a lot of Dong to explore, but here’s a clip of the scenery on the way home from school every day.

[Video to be added soon! Check back later!]

And just when you thought all of this was making sense:

This picture requires no explanation.

Next time – more about my school, SMK Dong!


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