Sunday, September 28, 2014

One Country, Two Worlds

One of the first thing a visitor to major towns in Peninsular Malaysia's East Coast would be the flags hoisted on steel poles.  The Malaysian national flag, the state flag, and...umm?  Is that a little Palestinian flag flying below the state flag?  Support for Palestinian freedom seems like part of daily lives here.  Shops and hotels seem to always have donation boxes for the Palestinian cause, and banners point out how Malaysia ought to be the second home for Palestinian refugees.  Indeed, Malaysia has pledged medical and financial support for Gaza during times of Israeli invasions, but the rhetoric in KL has never reached this magnitude.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Affordability of Intellect

It is more or less common knowledge that those who are hungry do not have capacity to think about anything other than their hunger.  Those who are poor are too focused on making their ends meet for survival reasons, with no time to divert attention elsewhere.  Thus hunger and poverty unfortunately correlate to lack of sophisticated arts, deep-level thinking, and a non-pluralistic society where the needs of everyday life overwhelm all else that the human mind is capable of achieving.  Unfortunately, in many part of Southeast Asia, as is the case for elsewhere in the world, lack of economic development maintains such harsh reality.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Male Escorts for the Chinese: the Quiet Rise of a New Tourism Game in Town

There is an identical white flyer (likely illegally) pasted on many telephone poles on the outskirts of Ipoh's New Town.  The content is written 100% in Chinese, with no Malay or English translation.  It advertises hiring of "male publicity officers" (男性公關) who, so duly pointed out, will enjoy salaries of more than 10,000 Ringgits per month ("generous tips" in exact wording), flexible working hour in an, ehm, "exciting job opportunity" (刺激的工作機會).  Given the relative absence of conspicuous nightclubs and lounge bars in this part of the city, such an exciting opportunity was definitely abnormal.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Emotions: Floating or Sinking the Ship of Rule-Based Authoritarianism?

The author, as the adventure traveler that he is, often gets the question of where his "most interesting" destination have been.  Generally, without a doubt, the answer has been North Korea, a foreboding land for most who has the yearning to go but no courage to do so.  The author's own trips to North Korea occurred both from the Chinese and the South Korean side, years before the existence of this blog, and thankfully, before the more stringent regulations governing travels to the Hermit Kingdom today.  It was a different time when curiosities of foreigners was keeping a modest state-led tourism sector growing at steady pace.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Birthday Post Part II: a Speakeasy in the Middle of Nowhere

The author, in his jeans and dress shirt, felt quite out of place walking around the dark streets of KL's old downtown.  Centuries-old heritage buildings that combine colonial and Chinese influences graced the side of empty streets, some crumbling under the weight of their (decidedly unpolished and non-maintained) history, and most hosting a couple of homeless going to sleep against the noise of a city celebrating the country's 57th Day of Independence from British colonialism.  The dark streets are occasionally punctuated by a few bright spots of light emerging from Indian eateries catering to, well, not so many clients.