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25 February 2006

Walking, walking, walking...

All the way from Malaysia to Singapore!

That's right, I just walked from Malaysia - all the way to Singapore. It was a sweaty journey let me tell you. It didn't take as long as I thought it would. In fact, I set off from City square in Johor Bahru and arrived in singapore about half an hour later.

Ha!

It's only across a bridge [called the Causeway]. Normally people take buses or taxis - but I just wanted to say that I walked all the way there.

Singapore is an odd place. Don't get me wrong, it's really pleasant and the people friendly and the food good and the prices high and the streets immaculately clean. There is, however, a feeling of immense fear of the eye in the sky. The laws are insane. No spitting, jaywalking, chewing gum, smoking, dancing, smiling on a Sunday - all for the fear of $1000 fines. And everybody follows it - because they really do get caught. I see people at empty street corners waiting for the green man to come on - even though there's no traffic at all.

Odd.

Worst of all for me in so many places there's no taking photos!! [i've been doing it secret agent style with the wide lens]

The craziest is the death penalty for drugs. No messing - head chopped off or something. On your entry card it has a very specific warning that drugs carry death in Singapore. When I came through customs, there were 6 sniffer dogs in cages that you were forced to walk in between. They don't seem to have a sense of humour about anything at all here.

But as I said, the food is nice and everything is super clean and high tech. the MRT [tube] and buses are ridiculously efficient and all have tele's in to keep you entertained. It doesn't work though, cos everybody I saw on the transport system was miserable. I got that whole London feeling coming back to me - only I felt a lot cleaner and safer - and didn't have to get a bank loan just to buy a ticket.

London's alright, I might be back there soon - if you're lucky.

Until then, i'll be in Singapore checking out the fake beaches and tall buildings [and eating some more good food - especially banana leaf curries in Little India mmmmmmmmmmm...]

No sense of humour - no arguments - no messing

No sense of humour - no arguments - no messing

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dung said...dfgrge Posted 20 February 2010 07:31

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22 February 2006

Eastern Thought

Something I picked up in Chinatown...

The Yin and Yang are the basic opposing forces - negative and positive, dark and light, cold and hot, male and female - which keep the world and all life spinning.

Because they are opposites, they need each other to make the whole.

Out of tension which arises from the attraction of opposites comes the dynamic of life.

his n' hers

his n' hers

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19 February 2006

Melaka, Malacca - Cultural centre of Malaysia

Super chilled after a nightmare start

As I was a bit bored and really needed somebody to hold the map in the car for me, I decieded to pick up some travel buddies. Really, I didn't think it through but I thought I could help some people.

I met a young English couple in KL two days before I was due to leave and they seemed ok. He was called Leon 30yrs old [a personal trainer] and she was called Louise 25yrs old [a nursery nurse] and they were both from Surrey. Sounds alright really - friendly, open, and generally not too bad.

The thing that drew me to them was that in some ways, he reminded me of me when I was a bit younger - but more so, he reminded me of my older brother. They both had obvious issues of insecurity and I just thought that I could get in their heads and sort their lives out for them.

Foolish, and I have indeed learned my lesson.

So two days passed free of incident and then we headed south on a road trip to Melaka. Again, all good.

It was only when we checked into the guesthouse that they switched. The place, which happens to be one of the best places i've ever stayed in, is a 300 year old Chinese House in the heart of the historic city. It's run by a buzzy old chinese man who sits and chongs weed all day. Love it!

So, back to these idiots. First they didn't like the place, the bed was too hard and there was no hot water - eh? Where are you?

Then when we were sitting for dinner and we were talking about food [which they don't like any of - they wanted Pizza Hut and McDonalds every day] I asked her what she thought of Thai food to which she replied "All Thai food is disgusting - especially the Pasta which is mingning".

It soon became apparent that they were ridiculously egocentric and super paranoid.

Hmmm...Already I was thinking of a way out.

The next day they wanted to go to the waterpark - so I went.

They were so utterly appalled that it wasn't as good as Wet n' Wild in Florida that they tried to get their money back. Ha! I just went off and played in the wave machine.

So after much moodiness and general discomfort, I decided that I had to bin them. Thing was that I didn't just want to dump them cos I felt bad. also, I don't think they could have handled the truth either - and he was a bit of a loose cannon.

So later that day I got 'an important fone call'. Told them I had to go back to KL and they should carry on to Johor and then up the East coast...but it backfired! they wanted to come back to KL with me??? Basically, they just wanted to come with me cos it meant they got driven everywhere!

So I had to do some quick thinking and told them I had to pick some important people up on the way - hehehe...

then, and this is the worst. Because they could come with me, they cancelled the rest of their trip in Asia [3 n' a half weeks left in Malaysia] and just took a train to Singapore then flew to Oz.

Idiots.

I only wirte this on the site cos they didn't even want my email address or anything - just weren't interested.

Now i'm dubious about helping anyone.

Anyways, once they were gone things were great. There were four East Landan rood gwirls staying in the gaff and they were great.

Definitely the best people i've met in Asia so far. Only 23/24 but super clued up and generally sorted.

We went to some place and entered a dancing competition and you know that we won - ah yeah.

Awww, I miss Dem Girlz. Bigup Lesley, Kerine, Nadinah and Rebecca. Good luck with the travels...

...and i'm still here - in Melaka I mean. It's the most chilled out town and good to do some work and take stock of what's been happening. I think on Thursday I might leave and head further South to Johor Bahru and then make a visa run to Singapore and drive round there for a few days. then off to the jungle for a week and over to the East Coast island of Pulau Tioman if the monsoon season has finished.

Oh, it's ridiculously hot by the way - about 35/40 degrees. Thai pants are now replaced with sarongs [we are a muslim majority] and wifebeater vests are still number one.

Life is still good - as long as I don't get caught by the coppers - otherwise it's hands cut off at best.

Hung or shot at worst.

Byeeeeeee!

Malaysian food is good - look.

Malaysian food is good - look.

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17 February 2006

Thaipusam Hindu Festival

Biggest party I ever saw...

Waaaa!

Thaipusam!

Probably the best party i've ever been to. It's the main Hindu festival here in Malaysia and it's spread over two days. The estimated attendance for the two days at Batu Caves was 1.4million!

That's proper loads.

it's great - there was such a mix of people. As I saw at Chinese New Year too - everybody joins in. It doesn't matter who you are, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or just some scruffy white Athiest like me, you can come here and have a massive party.

After three separate train journeys ridiculously rammed with people, we got to Batu caves and everybody spilled out onto the platform and headed for the site.

There are some caves in the side of a mountain that has been used for years as a Hindu temple, and now with the 130 foot gold statue of Lord Muruga standing at the bottom - it's the perfect spot for the event.

Squeezing our way along the strees, there are untold amounts of people all up to their own thing. Loads of separate groups all banging drums n' that and then there is the procession of devotees.

the devotees have to walk [in a trance] 16km from KL to the caves. Each of them with some kind of hooks or spikes tearing their flesh - and others also carrying massive wooden frames called Kavadis.

They have to be in a trance because they've either got skewers through their faces and tongues - or more commonly that we saw were about 10 metal hooks threaded through the backs and held on a rein by somebody. Needless to say, there was a bit of blood and some people who just couldn't make it.

After they arrive at the cave, there's 272 steps that they have to walk up - along with everybody else. I went up the steps and it took me over an hour to do it cos there was that many people.

At the top I got blessed by some buzzy looking fella who was so wasted that his eyes remained in the back of his head and he constantly chugged on some kind of hookah bong type affair. He had hooks in his back with gold pots hanging off them.

It took me another hour to get back down again.

the beauty of it all is that everybody was so well behaved. As I say, it was a mix of all kinds of people and there were too many there for it to be comfortable but despite that there was no tension between anybody and all were allowed to participate in the revelry.

I think that's great!

Hmm...it's gotta hurt - nuff said

Hmm...it's gotta hurt - nuff said

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17 February 2006

Driving, driving, driving

It's all good really...sort of...maybe...sometimes

Well, driving on the highways in Malaysia is not too bad at all I would say.

Apart from the psycho lorry drivers who wait until you're just about to overtake them and then simply pull out into the fast lane without indicating - and without even having anything to overtake themselves.

i think they just do it out of boredom really, just to mess with peoples' heads - and they know that nobody is gonna argue with a 20 tonne tanker full of god knows what.

So i drove from Penang and made a stop in Ipoh. the scenery on the way was soooooo spectacular. Lots of limestone formations and lush mountainous regions - very nice.

My only problem was when I arrived in town, I didn't know what any of the signs meant and I had no clue as to where I was going - doh! Also, it's pretty tough trying to drive, read the map and constantly rehydrate yourself in the baking heat whilst navigating unknown and completely foreign one way systems [by yourself].

Ipoh itself was a shithole [sorry mam]. No other words to describe it really. In all honesty, the best part of Ipoh that I saw was in the rearview mirror as I was driving away.

...And so I drove to Kuala Lumpur and that wasn't too bad at all. I had been warned that the roads in KL were terrible and it was an absolute nightmare with traffic and so on but I seemed to find my way around with minimum fuss.

I had been given a recommendation by some friends about a place to stay and so as blindly drove into the city and stopped at a random place looking for internet. To my good fortune, I was only two streets away from where I wanted to stay! I think it was just more jammy than owt else - cos I had no idea where I was going.

when i got to the gaff I decided to stay in a dorm room - I figured that would be the best way to find somebody who I could come and hold the map for me on the next trip. As i'm not taking bus journeys any more, it becomes more difficult to randomly chat to people you see.

Eventually, I met a Singaporean guy called Jonathan who was a freelance photographer - we got on well and made a few trips out of the city: One to Batu Caves to witness the marvel of the Hindu Thaipusam festival and then to Genting highlands.

This is a mountainous area not far from KL which is a really bizarre series of hotel resorts interlinked by cable cars, carparks and a massive indoor/outdoot theme park complete with "Snow World" [literally a sports hall full of real snow where you can build a snowman and have snozzie fights]. All in all really cheesy and a bit kak [but interesting nonetheless].

Kuala Lumpur by the way is a great city - lots of massive buildings n' that.

Actually, the first city i've been in awe of. Also, it's really clean and there aren't that many beggars. In fact, I think I saw less beggars even than in London.

the bad thing about KL is that on every street corner there is a giant shopping mall that sells everything you ever wanted. I reckon there's probably more malls than there are street corners. at least that's how it feels. all the prices are high too. Food and transport is cheap though, so no worries there.

I'm gonna head further south soon to the historic city of Melaka - the cultural centre of Malaysia.

bye then

KLCC Twin towers - Woooweee!!!

KLCC Twin towers - Woooweee!!!

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7 February 2006

Not going to Australia!

...Instead staying in Asia

Well, Iíve been staying in Penang now for two whole weeks. In that time Iíve been supping whisky and smoking cigars with some very powerful men who seem to be well impressed with my photos and ideas.

All of a sudden, I have all new super camera equipment, a new laptop and a swanky Honda Prelude and Iím spending the next three months driving through Malaysia and the three months after that in Indonesia. When Iím finished I shall relocate to Kuala Lumpur where one of my new Ďunclesí will find me a place in one of his companies doing something that involves taking photos.

Itís not what you knowÖ

As a side project, I have been asked to put together a pictorial representation of my journey through South East Asia in the form of a nice coffee table fotobook. Another Ďuncleí has a publishing firm and will help to realise this for me.

Yesterday I cancelled my flight to Australia and from tomorrow onwards I will be driving to KL to cover Thaipusam [the Hindu festival] and then gradually make my way around the country until my visa runs out and then I fly to Borneo for a bit.

I guess Iíll let you know what happens when it happens but I think Iím in for an interesting time.

Anyone need a lift?

Oh, also, does anyone know the way?

Road trip in this badboy

Road trip in this badboy

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5 February 2006

Prime Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Dato' Seri Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia

Yes, I met him and he seems like a nice enough chap

Wow, what a night.

Yesterday I was asked to go to Uncle K's hotel to take some pictures of the Malaysian Prime Minister. He was making a short stop there to pray and to take a shower during his visit to Penang.

There were no press there, only me with my camera and hundreds of the PM's adoring fans.

My first high profile job in a frenzied situation - which wasn't easy as he had an entourage of about 15 bodyguards all intent on knocking me to the ground.

So it was Uncle K's job to greet him on arrival and his staff and the special branch were notified that the scruffy white man hanging around was working as photographer for the hotel.

As the car pulled up, there was only me and Uncle K allowed on the red carpet - [only me, ha!] but then as he got out the place was swarmed by bodyguards and other ministers and dignitaries.

At first it was a bit awkward being so intrusive but I soon got the hang of it and happily got in his face and stood my ground with the bodyguards.

After much handshaking and waving, he went upstairs and the throng dispersed. I checked my images quickly and approached every person I recognised who I had a good handshake shot with. Up to now I have potentially sold four of the images to these happy businessmen who were lucky enough to shake the PM's hand - great!

After his shower and prayers, out he came again and the whole fiasco was repeated. More fotos, more fighting with bodyguards, quickly into the car and within 30 seconds it was all over.

Two hours waiting, two minutes' frenzied photography, Top Dollar for me.

I could definitely get used to this.

Today Uncle K is playing golf with the King. I was going to go and hide in the bushes but if I got caught, I would probably get my hands cut off - and then be shot.

I'm leaving Penang shortly, i'll let you know where to when it happens.

Bye for now.

You've been Pap'd Mr Pak Lah

You've been Pap'd Mr Pak Lah

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