Magnificent Malaysia: a Flog

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November 16th 2013
Published: November 16th 2013
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The Golden TriangleThe Golden TriangleThe Golden Triangle

Upscale shopping district in Kuala Lampur. Kuala Lampur feels like a manageable Chinese city, despite the haze. You don't wheeze on day one, and the public transportation works well.
* This is the first in a series of entries about a whole month of travels I did in October. In my mad slog through SE Asia, I made it to Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra and Java), and Singapore.


Say that you are American, you have one month off and can go anywhere in the world. Would your first response be, I'm going to fly to Malaysia? Chances are that's not the case. But that's exactly what I did - or at least where I started - and it isn't a decision I regret.

Despite geographic similarities Thailand's neighbor to the south, Malaysia, has a completely different heritage. Whereas Thailand is a Buddhist monoculture, Malaysia is a mishmash of cultures: Chinese, Hindu, various Muslim, ethnic Malay... Because the society isn't particularly assimilated, it's like you can experience all of these countries in the same place, but perhaps with higher sanitation standards and no dolls singing and dancing to "It's a small world after all". The lack of assimilation is a problem for Malay society, as the Princeton in Asia fellows and their friends at the University Sains Malaysia in Penang made clear to me. Malaysia experiences its own
Entrance to the Arab QuarterEntrance to the Arab QuarterEntrance to the Arab Quarter

near the Golden Triangle and where I was staying.
quota systems for colleges a la University of Michigan Law School, and it's politicians are apparently almost exclusively ethnic Malay.

For an American though, Malaysia is incredibly easy to travel in, especially compared to Thailand and Indonesia, where I went next. As a former British colony, English signposts in cities and at tourist sites are leagues ahead of Thailand's Google-translated sign posts, not to mention the speakers. You can actually understand what is sitting in front of you at museums.

Photos in this flog underscore the diversity of animals and Malaysia's varied cultural heritage: Chinese, Hindu, Muslim, and Colonial. They were taken around Kuala Lampur, the Cameron Highlands, and Penang.

Additional photos below
Photos: 73, Displayed: 23


Entrance to the Sri Maha MariammanEntrance to the Sri Maha Mariamman
Entrance to the Sri Maha Mariamman

a Hindu temple in downtown Kuala Lampur (KL)
The National MosqueThe National Mosque
The National Mosque

with KL's daily thunderstorm rolling in. The prayer hall is apparently massive, but non-Muslims can only enter at particular times (basically 90 minutes on, 90 minutes off during the afternoon). This can make gaining entrance horribly inconvenient.
Sultan's ThroneSultan's Throne
Sultan's Throne

an item at the Islamic Art Museum, one of the coolest collections I've ever seen and a not so subtle reminder of why I spent so much time learning about Islam in college.
Mughal Ivory SandalsMughal Ivory Sandals
Mughal Ivory Sandals

I don't know how they managed to do it, but these sandals look more uncomfortable than thongs.
Hand-made Qur'anHand-made Qur'an
Hand-made Qur'an

the Islamic Art Museum has a large collection of hand-written Qur'an's from across the Muslim world.
Getting Territorial with PeacocksGetting Territorial with Peacocks
Getting Territorial with Peacocks

KL also is home to a large walk-in bird park. The only thing separating you from roaming peacocks is your best judgment. I'm not sure whether this or the slipperiness of the paths is more dangerous, but the experience is well worth the peril. Bring bug spray!
Feeding Center - Bird ParkFeeding Center - Bird Park
Feeding Center - Bird Park

Dinner is stringy papaya on a stick.
Big PelicanBig Pelican
Big Pelican

surrounded by flamingo minions.
Chicken-like birdsChicken-like birds
Chicken-like birds

way too friendly for comfort. They get a bit skittish if you move too quickly.
Birds of PreyBirds of Prey
Birds of Prey

are luckily kept at bay.
The Photographer no moreThe Photographer no more
The Photographer no more

Exposing his back to semi-wild animals.
KL Skyline from the National ParkKL Skyline from the National Park
KL Skyline from the National Park

A spot of green in the middle of the city.
Evening PrayersEvening Prayers
Evening Prayers

Two men on their way to evening prayers at the Jamek Mosque in central KL.
KL at nightKL at night
KL at night

Little India and block after block of carpets for sale.

16th November 2013

Brings back memories
Enjoyed looking at your pictures. In 1966 I was in Malaysia, Indonesian, Singapore. Before I went there I made a lot of friends in Australia (International House, University of Melbourne). They were my contacts. So in KL I was with the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives and rode with his Political Secretary and explored the countryside. I was in Ipoh for a week with a Chinese family. I also visited Kuantan staying with my Chinese girlfriends father. Lee Quan Yew , Prime Minister of Singapore for a long time, helped me get a job. I worked for (free) an engineering contracting firm for a month. I lived with the sister of my Chinese girlfriends and her family. This was my own Rotary Youth Exchange program. Someday we will have to meet in a bar somewhere and trade lies and stories. Clark
17th November 2013

Wow! Quite a story
I should be back in Morgantown in June, I'd love to meet up and hear more about your Rotary like exchange. Unfortunately, I missed Ipoh in the interest of time. I wanted to get to Lake Toba on Sumatra by a certain date to meet a friend. Lee Quan Yee is very much venerated in Singapore at this point. I'm sure if you asked him for a job now you could be making millions of dollars a year. ( ;

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