Welcome indeed (as above) to the wondrous country that is Malaysia. A mixture of modern technology and old fashioned society.
I am in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah – Malysian Borneo (as I saw on a billboard here). KK – as it is called all over Malaysia is a city of over 500,000 people, set in a picturesque harbour with an island, a little reminiscent of Rangitoto in the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, just a short stretch of water away from the waterfront here.
The first thing to notice when you arrive here from NZ is the heat. At about 30 degrees, I think most kiwis start to melt – probably that is where we lost our wings…Also it starts off being beautiful in the morning and rains in the afternoon/evening. I am told this is a tropical thing, but I thought that tropical rain pelted down and then disappeared. In any case I think that it rains a fair amount here in KK
The more I have seen over here, the more I have enjoyed it. Admittedly probably at least 60 percent of the shops I see are either mobile phone shops or restaurants – probably shared equally between them!
I was glad to pick up a sim card for the great cost of about NZ $1.50. It allowed me to connect to the internet one day at a greatly smaller cost than the hotel does. Admittedly, I can go to the hotel foyer to use free Wifi there, but one does not want to talk on Skype in the middle of a hotel foyer – well not this one! Talking of hotels, this is the view out of my hotel room and then the most magnificent sunset that my second evening of no rain since being here allowed us to have. Unfortunately I missed the best of it, but it is still rather splendid!
Malaysians seem to love food – and are justly proud of how good their own cuisine is. I have not eaten yet in the hotel. Not that it is that expensive, but it seems a pity to waste that ambience on myself. No doubt it will rain enough one night that I will stay in the hotel rather than finding my way to a local food place. I have had various chicken dishes, eggplant curry, vegetable and dahl, ostrich, sesame bean balls filled with yellow bean and also one with I don’t know what…..and have been offered beef intestines – tripe? All pretty adventurous for this relatively unadventurous soul. I hasten to add that the most I have paid for a meal here is about NZ$3.50 – and that includes a drink of lemon juice!
No alcohol here. Well it is here, but at twice the price of what it would cost in NZ hotels, I figure it can wait until I get home – my cholesterol level is pretty good without the nightly glass of resveratrol! Not entirely true of course. I was invited to a hotel reception tonight (for long-staying guests) and while I dangled feet in the swimming pool (after the black tie people had gone of course) polished off a quite nice Australian red wine and a few very nice canapés. However I think I will be back in NZ before I have any wine to any regular degree again.
The other thing I have noticed is that everybody seems to smile. Even the chinese immigrants, who in Mainland China seem to scowl at foreigners and make them feel very alien, smile and will talk to you. I think that comes from the much more laid-back style of the country. Even the drivers are more polite than in many other countries – though they are still intent on pushing in front of you – size does matter here! Nothing like India however. No horns to deafen the most robust ears – and almost apologetically – much more courteous than the Remuera matrons in their large gas-guzzling 4WDs – that have never driven off-road more than Auckland to Pauanui – who have decided that the road is theirs and nobody else should dare to drive on it on front of them – especially not when they are taking their force-fed prodigies to the next lesson, group therapy or other form of baby-sitting, so that they can sit in their AC cars and wait for them in quietude. Now then….enough David!
To finish on a better note…
I am sure I will parade much more of the flora and fauna of Malaysia before you while I am here, but here are just a few photos of those I took while on a walk yesterday – doing the Mad dogs and Englishmen thing of going out in to the midday sun! Please don’t ask me what they are. I am happy to be told however! 🙂
Malaysian hospitality is alive indeed. Since my time here I have felt truly welcome.