Sleepy Terengganu was a small town that offered a lot less than we thought. Compiled with the fact that it was an area of Malaysia still devoutly Muslim, there was not much for us to do on a boring Sunday afternoon.
Except of course, eat.
Hawker stalls are huge throughout Southeast Asia (they don’t really exist in the same capacity here in China), perhaps no place more popular than in Malaysia. Each Malay city seems to have its pockets of hawker stalls just as Los Angeles has its strip malls, New York has its parks, and Chicago has its rooftop farms. Local families and tourists alike were seen dining at these humble establishments, although this one seemed to get a little less fanfare than some of the other ones we visited.
After sitting down and getting our hands on some flimsy menus, this old man came and sat down with us. For about five minutes, he didn’t say a word, and proceeded to puff on a cigarette that didn’t seem to get any shorter. Finally after deep discussions over the translation of several meny items, he finally piped up saying “ikan, FISH.”
So that proved it, somehow he worked at one of the hawkers, maybe he was a regular, who knows. He continued to help us through the menu, though his “translation” were probably not any better to what we could have figured out ourselves. A welcomed guest at first, we all soon realized he did not speak more than five words of English (rice, chicken, fish, soup, and yes).
Luckily breaking down a Malaysia menu is simpler than in other parts of the world. Like most meals that were had on our trip, our options consisted largely of different preparations of rice (Nasi) and noodles (Mee), various selections of friend chicken (ayam), or soups like Tom Yam. Naturally we kept our eyes peeled for goreng, meaning fried, as in fried rice and fried noodles.
And of course, we could not help but order a favorite dish of the trip: Nasi Goreng USA, or USA fried rice. Fried rice served with a fried egg on top and a side of soy sauced beef bacon and vegetables. The DiploMan got this for every other meal of his, I think.