Archive for September, 2006

Thoughts on Malaysia

September 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Thoughts on Malaysia

Length of stay: 10th August 2006 to 26th August 2006.

Federation never impressed me as the place to go. It was just a stop for Singaporeans to get cheap food, clothes and little else. Even the TV ads promoting Malaysian tourism suggested the same same.

I should skip it and spend my time in smiley Thailand, laidback Laos, mysterious Cambodia or even irritating Vietnam. Maybe blow into China for a quick ride on the Lhasa – Chengdu railway.

I went to Malaysia anyways, bussing into the country with colourful and cocky thoughts:

“Singapore’s got Malays and Malaysia’s full of them. What’s the damn difference whether I see them in Singapore or in Malaysia? They’re all the same.”
“Malaysia’s all moss-coated and crack-ridden buildings. What a second-hand dump!”
“The Singapore dollar is mightier than the Malaysian Ringgit. So they scrape and bow for our currency while reviling us at the same time. Hypocritical bastards.”

I must have strode in like some conqueror on his high pouncy horse, all frilled up and ready to take the pitiful country by storm. I waltzed along the East Coast for sixteen days from Taman Negara to Keroh.

During that time, I fell victim to acts of kindness. Life floated me downstream without fuss and taught me humility before betters. I slept rough and shivered when crazies ranted at ghosts hiding behind banana trees. I lost my good humor at undeserving folks and ran far far away in shame. I walked a good portion of the day into the ground while conducting an experiment on everyone zooming past me.

 I’m still not sure why I went.

But it doesn’t matter at all.  

 My Malaysian Itinerary  


Length of stay (days)

Johore Bahru

Kuala Tahan (gateway to Taman Negara)


Taman Negara


Kuala Tahan (gateway to Taman Negara)




Kuala Terengganu










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September 22, 2006 2 comments

Pre-trip (08/08/2006)

My father wanted my travel itinerary. I cobbled together two pages of places that I could think of from the top of my head in Excel. I dreaded the upcoming Q/A session.

He checked the list against a stack of maps that he had bought. His eyes and finger ran from list to spread-out maps on the floor. When my father hit Thailand, he stopped and asked “Why are you going to South Thailand? You know there’s fighting there.”


“So why are you going there?”

“It’s on the way.” I shrugged

He snapped “You want to see fighting?”


It ended there. Just like that. He folded the map and picked himself up from the floor. He rubbed his back gingerly. Then he eased into a stringed chair to stare at the television. Some cheesy Hong Kong drama was on that evening.

 I hate talking to my parents. It always ends in criticism (warranted or otherwise) and me suddenly struck deaf. It’s gotten to a stage where I don’t want to fight for my rights or to be treated as I think is fair. Instead I do what I deem fit and damn the consequences.  

It’s not fair to them.


It is just as silly and childish as getting angry over being asked for something. It happens more often now. And each time, I keep it buried in my gullet. It threatens to blow up in my conversations with my parents. I can feel it bubble under my skin when I ‘converse’. And it distances us.


It’s not fair to them.


Later that night, My father came into my room.


“Call back when you get in and out of every town” he said gruffly. Suddenly he looks burnt, old and worried. I agreed. I wanted him to leave my room. He left shortly after lingering for a bit. I ignored him.


They’re worried, so very worried for me.

And I find it so very hard to appreciate or even understand them.

Pre-trip 2

“Where are you going to? What are you going to do?”

"I haven’t a clue. I’m going to Taman Negara to climb a mountain. Then… along the East Coast of Malaysia and up into Thailand. Then into the rest of South East Asia. I’ll go to Tibet as well. Maybe I’ll do the Silk Road.”

“… How am I going to get you?”

 “Maybe by email? There are internet cafes everywhere. I’ll bring my handphone along.”

 “Why are you traveling?”

 “…I’ll tell you when I get back.”

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September 22, 2006 Leave a comment

I decided to write for myself during a pitch black night while camping on an obscure Thai beach. As my laptop brilliantly lit up my tent, I imagined working on incredible heart-rending fantastical tales that will change the world. I had an Everest’s worth of ideas that were begging to be given form and substance.

Instead I opened my diary, flipped to the point just before I started this trip and began editing my notes into something readable.

My diary is a loose collection of thoughts and events that I’ve been jotting down ever since… well, ever since a long time ago. I never did anything much with those notes. Somehow I was busy with something else or I was too tired.

No, that’s not the truth. I’m just a lazy slug.

I paused after editing for half an hour. My eyes were dry. I blinked and tears dripped from them. It’s true what they say: ‘The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.’ The contrast between the beach’s lightless black and my glaring laptop screen wrecked havoc on my eyes.

I didn’t know why I was editing my notes. It’s like answering really hard questions such as “Why are you traveling?”, “If god is good, why the hell are there mosquitoes?” I should have been writing Shakespearean works of fiction! It’ll be easier to explain it.

 Bugger it.

A magical blot out of the blue sky will hit me and I’ll suddenly elucidate like Buddha. In the meantime, I can only slog to make sense of these notes. I could hear soft pine cones drip-dropping around my tent and throttley Squid boats out in the open sea. I shouldn’t be able to hear the boats. They’re too far away. Nevertheless I could hear them. My tent faced the sea and I saw ghostly green lights evenly spaced on the horizon. The boats light them above the disturbed sea to call squid to them. By midnight, the boat’s green lights would wink out and they’ll putter home to wives and children.

I’ll miss seeing those green lights holding steady on the dark horizon.

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Bangkok Coup – 20/09/2006

September 20, 2006 Leave a comment
The most boring, bloodless, unheart-pounding coup ever.
Everything’s back to normal by mid-morning. Young soldiers stand at their stations and look important.
Don’t laugh.
It’s really hard work to pose mightily for tourist’s cameras.
There might not be a curfew even though it’s under martial law. The Chao Phyra river boat goes under thick iron bridges. It carries tourists, locals and monks on the waters; up and down, up and down as clockwork.
Silom and all the sleaze will be out in force to cater to the Japanese and old Europeans with fading tatoos. Chinatown is chaotic with the shouting bird’s nest and shark fin vendors. Khao San gouges the fair-skinned walking ATMs. And there are fewer smiles in this city of angels.
In other words, it’s business as usual.
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In Koh Phangnan

September 5, 2006 1 comment
It’s full of farang and hopeless young drunks. The beaches have been raped and retain a little glamour like street whores.
Small things make it slavagable: the lifers who went into the forest 20 years ago to eke out a living from the land, the locals who keep to themselves in village clusters away from foreigners except for clumsy ones who stuble onto them.
I had tea and food at a stall run by an Islam family. I was brought there by a person I just met and truck up a conversation with. Somehow, I can’t find food stalls in Koh Phangnan at all. This Thai staple, like fragrant rice, seemed to go into hiding from the farange hordes.
I’m invited to stay with a local in his hut on a mountain. Should I?
Categories: Uncategorized

Traveling on a funny stomach.

September 2, 2006 Leave a comment
It’s funny how a simple illness can drastically reduce the quality of life on the road. I think I’ve come down with traveler’s diarrhea. The chills, fever, water for shit and abdominal cramps all lead to that conclusion. The worst has passed but I’m feeling bloated as well as tired. Apparently, it has that kind of effect on sufferers.
I had planned to walk around in Thailanda doing the hitch-hiking route. But this had derailed my plans and I’m spending more time recuperating in cities (Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat) so far. I seen more of my room than anywhere else for the last 3 days. Hopefully, it’ll die down and I’ll be as right as rain.
I’ll be staying here for one more day before I head up to Amphoe Sichon and Kamphon. Apparently, there are great beaches there! Unfortunately, I get a feeling that Amphoe Kamphon is quite touristed. No matter, I’ll head there for a bit before I go to the really touristed areas.
On a side note, I thought I could handle the loneliness. And strangely, I was able to during my time in Malaysia and in the far south of Thailand. However, I am starting to feel those pangs right now. Especially when I am feeling ill. It’ll be nice to find someone to talk to for a while. 😦
Categories: Travel
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