Malay Musings

Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog

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In the end I spent all night in the airport. This time around KL had a distinct "been there done that" kind of vibe to it. Even the pleasing jolt of seeing the Petronas Towers on the night dark skyline one last time couldn't lift this visit above the level of tedious transit chore. As the bus sped off down the freeway to the airport, a thunder storm, brewing since early evening, finally began to spit lightning and rain over the CBD behind us.

I was taking a flight to Siem Reap to meet up with holidaying friends from home, Laura and Julian. Check in opened at the frankly stupid hour of 5am and I didn't want to run the gauntlet of delayed buses so I resigned myself to a night of terminal boredom, alleviated only by the occasional cup of caffeine and TV football. Slumped back in a plastic seat I made my mental goodbyes to Malaysia, a country that gently blooded me in Asian travel and then, following my 3 week sojourn in more basic Sumatra, offered a slice of modern comfort recovery.   
   
It's clear that Malaysia is fast developing into a country with real economic clout, and many of the inhabitants (although not by any means all), and certainly the tourists, feel the benefits of this in terms of infrastructure and creature comforts. The problem I have with this as a traveller is similar to the experience I had in South America. The more modern and monied a country is, the less culturally stimulating it tends to be; its cultural highlights increasingly hidden beneath the generic bushels of corporatism and commerce. In South America I got more daily kicks out of the rougher countries, relishing the differences from my cushy home life. Thus, the real highlights of (relatively) rich Argentina and Chile became, for me, the magnificent natural landscapes.

Unfortunately, Malaysia doesn't really harbour too many jaw-dropping sights. I don't wish to be unfair and the islands (Tioman and Perhentian Kecil) I visited were beautiful, as were the aformentioned Petronas towers, but on the whole the country is a place of moderates, not extremes. I'll also say that it was good to walk through the ethnic melting pots of KL, Penang and Melaka seeing mini-skirted Chinese girls treading the same pavements as burkha clad Malay Muslims and Sari wearing Indians. There appears to be more racial harmony here than in the past, and that's a positive sign. It's obvious that tensions remain but hopefully the inequalities of the colonial period will be slowly erased.

So, at the end of all this travelling nonsense, will Malaysia figure in my top ten of countries to visit? Sorry Malaysians but I doubt it. I'm almost certain that there are more interesting places to go on this continent (Sumatra for one). My overbiding memories of Malaysia will be pleasant. And I think that sums it up nicely. Not amazing, not horrific, not challenging. Just pleasant. Something which the recent history of Cambodia certainly is not. Is it wrong to look forward to a dose of darkness?   
Saladin79 says:
Thanks Marek. Malaysia does have plenty to offer in its own way; I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Dave.
Posted on: Jul 11, 2008
mrvis says:
Like the blog. Understand your thoughts. Defenitely agree with the South American part. Will visit Malaysia next year as part of a RWT.
Enjoy Cambodia!
Marek
Posted on: Jul 10, 2008
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