malaysia round up

At various points during our trip, we’ve tried to implement a plan of rising early to sightsee before retiring to our guesthouse to seek refuge from the midday heat. Despite the apparent simplicity of this plan, our efforts have been consistently thwarted by various factors. During our stay in Penang, such factors included sensory deprivation (our room had no windows and hence, it appeared to be midnight at all hours) and the fact that using an alarm clock whilst on holiday offends our sense of morality. And so we slipped into a far less sensible routine of shuffling around in the boiling sun until the inevitable collapse into a roadside stall for a restorative lime juice.

All afternoon recovery efforts were focussed on preparing to seek out our evening meal. Hawker eating in Georgetown is quite excellent. Every few metres, a collection of carts offers up endless varieties of tasty treats. Fellow shoe-stringer and kindred appetite Colleen had sought expert advice from a Malaysian friend and before we could say “Old Trafford Burger“, we were on the bus to Gurney Drive. Announcement of our destination earned us sage nods of respect from the bus driver and fellow passengers. We adopted a “divide and conquer” approach and later regrouped to share our culinary loot. Thanks Colleen – we wouldn’t have ventured out there without you.

(We must digress at this point to say that Penang bus travel is at odds with the previously mentioned “abandon hope” strategy: it is seamlessly efficient and simple. And the vehicles don’t look like they were made in People’s Albania during the immediate post war period.)

Our day trip to Batu Ferringhi gifted us the rare sight of a woman parasailing in full burqa. We also dabbled in an activity which is quickly becoming habitual: trespassing upon the grounds of 5-star resorts and imagining ourselves happily ensconced therein. Not sure if the excuse of “my parents honeymooned here” would have cut it with security at the Rasa Sayang, but thankfully we never found out.

And so we said goodbye to Malaysia. We had only planned to spend a couple of weeks here, but it ended up being about six. In summary: diverse, absolutely hassle-free and yet to reach the critical mass of tourists that turns taxi drivers into rabid animals.

We read a lot of newspapers in Malaysia and aside from now being full bottle on the constitutional crisis in Perak state, we were also pleasantly surprised with the standard and frankness of a lot of reporting and commentary. It’s also worth checking out the New Internationalist’s recently published country profile of Malaysia. Perhaps a little bit harsh, but unfortunately for Malaysia when they get it wrong, they get it really, really wrong.

Of vague final interest is that Tourism Malaysia is the Carlton Blues’ joint major sponsor for 2009. But don’t let this stop you going there.


One Response to “malaysia round up”

  1. Toblerone Says:

    C’arn the Blues! I’m definitely going to Malaysia now!

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