Something weird occurred in Gua Musang. Gua Musang, Malaysia. Weird for me, a western civilization born and raised person with some Hawaiian flavoring. Maybe for you too.
While traveling from the Perhentian Islands in the China Sea to Kuala Lumpur, first by ferry to the mainland, then by bus across this isthmus of land East to West, Nat and I stopped in this medium sized town, Gua Musang. There were no more buses this day to continue our journey.
We found a back packers guest house near the railroad station and checked in.
Nat took a shower and then me. The shower was at the end of the hall. While showering I listened to some racket outside which sounded like some sort of construction and subconsciously hoping that this would not go on into the evening. It had been a long day on the road. I was ready for a peaceful nights rest.
I finished my shower and went back to our room. I casually asked Nat if she had heard the noise outside and just then, a very loud noise, like someone throwing something metal against the outside wall of our room went bang! She looked at me and said, ‘Yes!’
After laughing and finishing dressing, out of curiosity I walked to the front of our guest house where I might see what was ‘going on’. I looked outside over the street. We were on the second floor. Across the street and just a few stores up, there was a raging fire! The Malaysians were scattering everywhere, carrying everything that could be salvaged.
I ran back to our room, yelling to Nat and she opening the door stood in the hall as I arrived. ‘There’s a fire! A huge fire! The buildings across the street are all on fire! Let’s get out of here!’
We both ran to the front to look out the windows. We instantly realized that we had to get out of here now. If that fire ‘jumped’, we would be in trouble. We ran to our room, shoved everything back into our back packs and ran down the hall, down the stairs and out onto the street now evacuated to the next block up the street. The heat was instant and intense as we came out of the doorway. We took off up the street away from the inferno. As we got to the next block we turned to look back.
We were standing in a crowd of Malaysians all watching quietly as this fire was exploding, crackling sending a huge giant billowing yellow and red flames that turned into thick black smoke and then as it reached about a thousand feet, turned into what would be seen as a rising thunderhead, a white billowing cloud high into the sky. Sheets of corrugated metal roofing where carried up into the fire fountain and at some point came out and were flying through the air like confetti. That was the sound we were hearing. The corrugated roofing crashing down.
The incredible ‘weird’, ‘eerie’ thing to me was that, not a person was screaming, yelling or shouting. No one was crying. Many of the people that we now stood in a throng with had to of been the occupiers of the stores and businesses that were now fueling this giant fire. Fire trucks were on the scene and still arriving, trying to control this blaze to this one block, spraying down the building fronts across the streets on all four sides.
After about an hour the fire had reduced the city block to a black pile of rubble. Not knowing what to do exactly, we went to another guest house but it was too expensive. We went back to our room and spent the night there. No electricity. Eerily quiet! Not sleeping, I walked to the front and looked out over this darkened scene, city lights at some distance a glow over this immediate vacuum of light. Silhouettes of fire patrol persons watching next to their trucks until dawn.