Venturing into Negeri Sembilan for Hari Raya

This past weekend saw the end of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar, and thus Monday and Tuesday were public holidays here in Malaysia. This gave Jeremy a couple days off from work, so we decided to venture into a neighbouring state, Negeri Sembilan. We didn’t have a specific plan or destination, though we knew there were a couple places we were interested in seeing.

The traffic was busier than I expected at some points, but I suppose that was due to the holiday. I ended up driving until I found an organic farm with a restaurant attached on the side of the road, in between Seremban and Kuala Pilah. It was around lunch time by then, and we were getting hungry. I ended up ordering deep fried sweet and sour fish, expecting the kind of deep fried fish I am used to back home in Australia. But when our order arrived, i had an entire deep fried fish staring at me. I felt sick. Jeremy had to turn the fish around so I didn’t have to see it looking at me. And he had to take the meat off for me, as I absolutely detest fiddly food where you have to pick the meat off/out (I can’t even stand peeling oranges). But it taught me a valuable lesson about seeing deep fried fish on the menu – don’t automatically assume the fish is de-boned or de-scaled. Ask first. If in doubt, don’t order fish.

Jeremy took over the driving from there, and we saw a lot of amazing looking kampungs and Malay architecture on our way to Sri Menenti. However, it was also raining quite heavily, so we didn’t get out to look around. This was probably also the reason the museum at Istana Lama was closed, though that may have been the holiday. We ventured on to Kuala Pilah to see if we could find somewhere to stay for the night. It had stopped raining by the time we arrived there, but bad news as the town’s only hotel was completely booked out for the night. Instead we had to find the rest house. They had a room available, but the quality of accommodation was poor. The water in our room was completely broken, and they had to give us a bin-sized bucket of water just so we could flush the toilet. That wasn’t even the worst of it. We were certain we must’ve heard rats scurrying around in the ceiling, a giant cockroach was spotted outside our room, and we had a lizard living in the ceiling light. Lonely Planet wasn’t lying about the quality of this place, but we had no other option for staying in the town.

One amusing part, though, was taking Doyle to a nearby playground, and seeing some locals play a game of soccer. Well, that wasn’t the amusing part. The amusing part was being photographed several times by one of the Malay girls watching the game, as if Doyle and I were some rare and endangered species not usually seen in the likes of Kuala Pilah.

The sad part was wandering into a town store and seeing the reception lady from Desa Inn, who told us they’d had a cancellation, and we could have stayed there after all. I had a feeling I should have left her a number to contact us on!

We woke early the next day, and wandered through the town to find some breakfast (some yummy Chinese doughnuts or you char kway) and look at the local temples. The Hindu temple was especially beautiful, and the Indians were very welcoming (and encouraging) for us to see inside. Funnily enough, it was closed when we were on our way out of town about half an hour later.

I also luckily found a material store in Kuala Pilah, and picked up a few metres of material since I hadn’t seen any other such stores around Kuala Lumpur yet, and I want to use my new sewing machine for something!

We passed back through Sri Menenti on our way back to Kuala Lumpur, and luckily this time the museum was open for us to wander through this time. Istana Lama (old palace) itself is a very beautiful structure, and holds the Malaysian national record for tallest wooden building in the country, as it is four stories tall. We felt it was worth the visit.

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