Valentine’s Day In JB

Given the controversy in the media surrounding Valentine’s Day in Malaysia, I wasn’t sure if it would be as popular (or amazing) as it is in other countries. Although Malaysian Muslims may not celebrate it, I quickly realized that just about everyone else in the country does. From enormous Hello Kitty heart balloons to bouquets of mini teddy bears (which were actually adorable, in a so-cute-you-want-to-barf kind of way), it appears that buying your Valentine’s affection is almost as popular here as it as in the US. And from what I gathered from my stroll through the mall earlier this week, wandering through these displays in a confused daze is problem shared by men ’round the world.

Alex and I took a trip into JB for Valentine’s Day, with the idea of going to a carnival he had read about. In the area around the carnival, there is also a large mosque and a zoo. Our taxi dropped us off outside of the mosque, which we would have loved to have visited, but we were a little underdressed for the occasion.


That is, neither of us had enough clothes on to enter the grounds of the mosque. Where to? The zoo!

Across from Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque is the Zoo Negeri Johor. We both love zoos, and admission was 2RM ($0.60). Done and done.


Given that the admission price, and my standards for Asian zoos (the ones in Korea were not the most humane, to put it politely), were so low, I wasn’t expecting much. It wasn’t the Bronx Zoo, but it did turn out to be a decent place with relatively large areas for the animals. We meandered around, and took in the flora and fauna:








After a bottle of water and a bit of “vanilla flavored ice milk product” that I foolishly mistook for ice cream, we bought some lettuce and fed the camels.




All in all, it was a very fun day. One of my favorite things, though, was something that I forgot to photograph. Most zoos have disclaimers and warnings against interacting with the animals. Here, the signs read something to the effect of “We are not responsible for any inconvenience caused here,” aka, “If your ass gets eaten by a lion because you’re being stupid, don’t come crying to us.” I love it. I think the Bronx Zoo should adopt the same warning signs.

At the conclusion of our visit, we were able to purchase the picture that we had taken in front of a green screen when we came in. Cheesy? Yes. Perfect for V-Day? I think so.


PS- We tried to go to the carnival after the zoo, only to find that it was just a few vendors set up in a parking lot and a whole lot of confused Malaysians staring at us. On the bright side, we got our photo taken and some high school boys told me they loved me. How appropriate for the day!


6 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day In JB

  1. It’s good to see that you’re writing! I’m looking forward to feeling the texture of Malaysia in your posts.

    Can you tell us about your house? How big? What does it look like? How is it arranged? How many more spiders have you found? What is the neighborhood like?

    The scarcity of air conditioning isn’t surprising. Up through he 60’s AC was rare in the US with even the 1961 Beineke Rare Book Library at Yale not having it – I know that’s 50+ years, but 50 years isn’t that long ago. And we’re the most developed country in the world; Malaysia is playing catch-up.

    I’m interested in what language and alphabet are used for the mosque sign. I understand that Malay uses both a western alphabet (as with the Zoo) and an Arabic derived one of 35 +/- basic script characters with multiple variations of each depending on whether they stand alone or are at the beginning, end or middle of a word. And I couldn’t recognize the letters in the Wikipedia alphabet. You should have fun trying to get around.

    And with a slinky blue sleeveless dress, it’s probably just as well you didn’t go to the mosque. Much better to be propositioned by teenagers.

    Wish we could post photos here. I’d love to remind you of what a proper blizzard looks like!


    • The house is one level, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (only one is Western though, the other is the unfortunate hole-in-the-floor…not my favorite kind), a kitchen and an open living/dining space. It’s actually quite large. The houses are built right next to one another, so there are only windows in the front and back of the house. It’s better this way, though, because it keeps the sun/heat out.

      That said, I’ll take the sun over the current snow NY is buried in!

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