For the next leg of our journey we spent an evening on the overnight train from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu. After being in India I’m surprised, pleased, and somewhat shocked at how ridiculously easy the train ride was to arrange. The only draw back was I couldn’t see much of Malaysia’s countryside because it was night when we travelled.
In Kota Bharu we attended one of the daily cultural performances put on by the Cultural Arts Center. The first thing we tried was drumming. When we first saw the drums I asked “api ini” (what is it) and the people doing the drumming demonstration called it a gong. Later I found out this was a traditional drum called a rebana. Every one of the westerners had a change to rhythmically beat on the rebana for a song or two. When it was my turn I sat opposite the drum leader while he showed us all his skill.
Next we watched martial arts performances though it seemed more like a folk dance than a marital arts showing. All martial arts performed in Malaysia are referred to as silat. The performers each do a dance / display in front of each other accompanied by drums and other instruments. This continues for about 5-10 minutes before the two “fighters” work themselves into a crescendo of good natured fighting at the end.
After the main silat display a few westerners were chosen to learn some basic moves. Unfortunately for the master, Andrew was the “chosen one” and during his session he accidentally punched the master in the head without noticing!