Mixed bag

18 Oct 2006

There are lots of things in my notebook and no obvious common thread that would let me wrap them up into a neat little entry. So here are the working notes, to be packaged later.

_Unnecessary..._Out of respect for the country and a desire not to seem like yet another ignorant foreigner (despite being said ignorant foreigner), I've been trying to learn some Malay. It's not a hard language. I've been frustrated by the fact that everyone here speaks much better English than I'll ever speak Malay, so there's not really cause to use it. Still, I get a kick out of stringing the occasional phrase together.

I knew I was making some progress when I approached the Transnational counter in KL and said "dua tiket ke Melaka".. and she answered me in Malay. Unfortunately, I had no idea what she said, and the rest of the transaction was conducted in English. This happened to me again later on, in response to "di mana medan portuguese?" - the directions sounded extremely detailed but were unfortunately useless to me.

Baby steps.

_... and insufficient_When my Malay isn't unnecessary, it's insufficient. We've reached the point where we can order from some restaurants even without a menu, which is just as well, because more than half don't have one. If you don't know any Malay, your options become "Fried rice fried noodle! Fried rice fried noodle!". If you do know some Malay, you'll be able to say "nasi lemak", but won't be able to understand why they won't give it to you - even if they served it a day or two ago. Instead, all you can do is eat what they give you, pronounce it delicious, and then say "apa nama ini makan?" so that you can order it (or avoid it) next time.

_Batu_Looking directly up in the Batu caves, you can position yourself so that drops of water hit your glasses after falling roughly 20 metres, which means that you can watch them falling like glass marbles. It's pretty cool, even if it makes you look like a weirdo.

_Petronas_Just outside the Petronas towers, you can buy a "roleckkssss" if you want one, or even if you don't want one. We got out of there pretty quickly, but not before getting hassled by another monk. The first one was cute, and touching, and we gave him a few bucks. This guy seemed to want RM50, RM100, RM150, based on what he was mutely pointing at. I think they use the bracelets they give you as a way to identify people who've already been hit once and shouldn't be approached again.. so I now have a Bracelet of Repel Buddhists +1 if anyone wants one.

Petronas looks much, much cooler at night. The haze creates a sort of halo behind it - go pollution! It also appears that they've mounted a good old-fashioned cannon (or maybe a plank?) on top of one of them. It might come out in the photos.

_Police_At the police museum, there is much talk of Communist Terrorists. Now, it seems that the communists were not all happy-friendly people, and some pretty bad things happened - but it's impossible to take that terminology seriously. Particularly when you're looking at an exhibit of a normal-looking top and bra labelled "Women Communist Terrorist Accessories".

There are also some totally badass weapons (up to AK47s), which they seized from the enemy in police operations. 0n the next aisle over are examples of what they used to do the seizing - light machine guns (including bipods), a multi-chambered grenade launcher, and an antitank weapon.

Meanwhile, a bloke at the backpackers joint we're staying at is wearing a vintage t-shirt that says "CCCP". If they come for him, I'll advise him to go quietly.