Sunday, March 11, 2012

Winter Escape 2012: Reflections on Malaysia

While in Malaysia we spent the month of February in Melaka, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. During this time it was sunny and extremely humid. There were days when the sun was not shining, but the humidity was intense and at times felt unbearable. While in Penang, during a few late evenings we were treated to nature's sound and light show. The thunder was loud followed by stunning lightning, both of which appeared to be too close for comfort. The most dramatic time was while we were in our sea-view room. The sea lit up with fork and sheet lightning that looked quite menacing, yet wondrous.

The Muslims dominate the country with the Chinese and Indian being the other two main ethnic groups. Hence the culinary fare comes from these cultures with an array of exquisite fusion dishes. For the first time, we both sampled beef bacon and chicken ham. The word on the street tells about corruption being prevalent in Malaysia. Poverty is visible on the streets of Kuala Lumpur (KL). KL boasts an excellent urban transit system of rail, monorail and bus modes of transportation. It appears to be in the midst of a building boom as was evident by the construction of new buildings around the city. 

Bridge to Putrajaya

About 25 km from KL, we visited the Government city of Putrajaya due to Tim's freelance journalistic endeavours. He interviewed a Maritime Captain of the Maritime Enforcement Agency for an article to be published in the "The FrontLine Defence." The Government employees work and live in this fairly new 16-year old city. The Prime Minister's office along with the Government ministries are located in Putrajaya.

Putrajaya: Prime Minister's Office to the right of Mosque

Malaysia is a modern Muslim country. We were struck by how the Muslim women were dressed: they wear these beautifully designed hijab along with blouses and slacks or tight jeans or long skirts. They are prominent in every facet of Malaysian life, which include the police force, anchors to TV news and shows. The only burkha dressed young women were the tourists from the Arab countries who were most evident in Penang and Kuala Lumpur. These young women were accompanied by their husbands who were dressed in the Levis western attire and sunglasses.

Malaysia appears to be defining its place in our globalized world.

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