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Travel The World...

Thoughts on Travelling Trends

sunny 32 °C

I started this travel blog with the intention of writing about my travels and the pleasure it has always given me to go to different places, meet people of different cultures in their native lands, eat local food and have a good time in general. Unfortunately my travels have been limited to short trips. One month, three weeks or a fortnight, but every time I go on a trip, I make it as if it is an adventure.

Today when travelling has become so common, so many people can go to places where 30-40 years ago only persons with a sense of adventure ventured. Overland trips to India and Nepal, were hippie culture. Now people go to China, Russia, Viet Nam and Cambodia and Burma. You name it. Few people then traveled to Australia and New Zealand.
In europe people started going to Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey, because things were cheaper there. I remember in England in the sixties and seventies, when some one went to Costa Brava or the Canary Islands for his holidays, he had gone "abroad" or people said "he is on the continent"'

Today's traveler is neither an explorar who has to travel to discover the north-west-passage or go to the South Pole for the glory of his country, nor an adventurer, who has, for his personal glory, to meet the natives of Papua New Guinea or to climb the peak of Machu Pichu.

Most of the people I have met in Spain, Portugal, Greece etc, go there for the sun in winter, to escape the harsh winter of their own country or to go there for holidays, not because things are cheap there. Today it has become far more cheaper to travel to distant lands, long haul holidays, and one of the reasons is the fact that things are cheaper there, you can stay there longer and visit many interesting places. And you find travelers from USA, Europe, on trips in South Asia, South America, Middle East. Any where. You find back packers in Bali, Phi Phi Islands, Goa and Kerala and taking it easy in China Town in Kuala Lumpur. I have met travelers who have been to Phi Phi islands in Thailand because lonely Planet Guide described them as one of planet's jaw dropping beauties. And indeed it is so. That the beaches in Prehensian isles in Malaysia are divine and there is no motorized traffic, white beaches and turquoise-blue water, is also true. What better reason one needs to travel to these distant places other than visit them because they are there?

Travel guides, travel forums, internet and never ending stories of travelers to distant places, their experiences, cheap travel etc, all have contributed to more people traveling to more places. Be it to meditate in Puri, take Yoga lessons in Kerala or Rishikesh or go snorkeling in deep green and dark blue waters of Thailand, it is almost always a pleasant experience to look forward to.

Posted by The Islander 22:42 Archived in Malaysia Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Malaysia 2007-Year of Tourism---

Travel the World Random Thoughts


I have started this blog, writing about our two trips to Malaysia. When we visited Kuala Lumpur, it felt as if whole Malaysia was a new country, young and dynamic, not the country of old Malay states of 19th century, governed from England, controlled by foreign beaurocrats, ruled by rajahs and sultans, occupied by colonial masters. Malay of rubber plantations, the plantation owners sweltering in tropical heat, some unhappy, many alcoholic and brutal. Malay of Dayak tribe the head hunters, Murdu pirates, native gangs working on plantations and building roads, punished by their colonial masters for any slight lapses and mistakes. To their enormous credit, Malaysians have emerged intact from the yoke of colonial rule of their country. They are neither arrogant nor servile. They are shy in front of strangers but shyness becomes people who are polite, good mannered.

If you have read W.S. Maugham's Outstation, you will know the snobbery and arrogance with which the English ruled in Malay and everywhere else. They ill-treated the natives, tolerated the Chinese, considering them a necessary evil since they filled the coffers of treasury.The Malays and Dyaks were poor, they worked little and their needs were little. Later, when the Chinese grew in numbers and their hold on the economy grew, British were unable to control their power. Today Malaysians resent the Chinese, whose ecomic power in the country is enormous.

Malaysians are eager to point out their tolerance and harmony with the country's indigenous population of Chinese and Indians. However, the recent events of protests and demonstrations by the Indians, and their strong and valid complaints, shows that the present Islamic government does not care much about social integration or giving equal rights and opportunities to minorities living in the country for centuries. The Chinese have always formed a state within a state, with their own places of worship and their own codes of law. And they are rich and rich are always powerful.

Our tour guide in Penang was complaining about the hesitation of European tourists to visit his country, who in his view were biased, who wrongly believe that Malaysia is a Muslim country, with men in long gowns and with shaggy beards and women covered head to food in burkas. That Malaysians are extremists who are not tolerant of others.
However, it is not so and I am sure that westerners like Malaysia and Malaysians.

We found Malaysians graceful, well dressed, helpful and hospitable. The country is clean, well connected with roads and highways. New and modern buildings and commercial centers. The economy is booming. Hotels rates are reasonable, transport is regular and cheap. So are restaurants, with friendly staff, and delicious food. Beautiful islands and wonderful beaches. What more would a tourist or a visitor want? Thank you Malaysia for being a tourist friendly country. May more and more western visitors choose your country for their holidays.

Posted by The Islander 22:37 Archived in Malaysia Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Pulau Langkawi. Pulau Paradise

Malaysia 2007. Year of Tourism

rain 30 °C

Pulau Langkawi in the north west of peninsula, the nearest island to Thai border town of Satun, is the perfect place to relex. We took a bus from Kuala Lumpur at 24.00 hours(one hour late departure) and went to Kuala Perlis, the port town which is the departure point for ferries to Langkawi.

The buses in Malaysia are new and comfortable and we traveled in a double-decker bus. The journey time from KL to Perlis was seven hours and immediately on arrival at Perlis, we took a ferry to Kuah, the major town and arrival point for ferries. There was a lot of hustle and bustle on the jetty, Langkawi is a duty free port and Malaysians love to come here. On the day we arrived in Kuah, there was an important festival in progress and hotels were full and charging higher rates. But we had no intention of staying in the town as we wished to go to the beach.

So on arrival, we went in the restaurant on the jetty to have breakfast and found that they had full Indian food there. Mr. Jamal the soft spoken manager came over to our table and after exchanging preliminary courtesies and taking our orders, came back and asked if it was our first time in Langkawi, which was yes, and offered to find us accommodation. He gave us his visiting card and I saw that apart from working in the restaurant, he was also working for tourist information and travel agency. So we had rice, chicken curry, pancakes and coffee at very reasonable price at 7.30 in the morning and Mr. Jamal phoned the travel office, which was nearby and outside the jetty, and in came Linda, a very helpful young woman, who took us back to her office.

The sun was shinning, bright sunlight bathed the whole town, heat prickling the body with a sensation of adventure, the sparkling blue sea, boats arriving and leaving, and a huge statue of an eagle with its enormous wings looking out to the sea. All was fantastic. The town of Kuah, as we found out on our last day there, is a commercial center, with concrete buildings, western fast food chains and shopping centres, which cater for malaysians and other tourists visiting Langkawi.

We explained to Linda our wish to go to Pantai Cenang or Pantai Tengah, she phoned some hotels but all seemed full. At the end we settled on Pantai Cenang and she booked us in Malibest Beach Resort, with wooden cottages right on the beach. The tariff was MR80.00 per night and the cottages were spacious, with attached shower/toilet, with daily room service. We stayed there three days.

If I had to choose a place to live for the rest of my days, my first preference will be Canary Islands(Spain) where I have lived for over twenty years and where I had the best time of my adult life. I love the sea, the food and the people there. The next will be Langkawi. The place has an enchantment, dense jungle, white blond beaches, uncluttered life without motorized traffic, good albeit pricy food. But a place in paradise does not come cheap any more. We put on our siwmsuits and strolled down to the beach, a few meters from the cottage, and saw the wide expanse of the clear horizon, a mirror calm sea, not a ripple stirred the waves. Glorious heat which engulfed your entire self, swathing body and mind in a peaceful calm. I went in the water and lay down on my back and the gentle water took inside. I was floating and nearly went to sleep, so peaceful and calm was the water. The picture on top right show the intricate pattern etched on the sand by crabs.

In the evening we went out for a stroll. All shops and restaurants are mostly on one side of the road. We were hungry and after inspecting some places to eat, entered Palm View, a Chinese restaurant with spacious dinning area. The owner, a gentleman from Tamil Nadu (India) came over and greeted us like old friends and recommended fish and sea food, which was fresh. My wife had shrimps in sweet & sour sauce, baby squid in ginger sauce and mixed vegetables. I had, as recommended by the owner, steamed red snapper, cooked in a delicious sauce, which I enjoyed very much. The bill ,together with two glasses of fresh pineapple juice and one beer, came to MR.76.00 .

After staying in Langkawi and with fond memory of its enchantment, we came to Kuah, stayed overnight and next morning took a ferry to Satun, the Thai border town.

Posted by The Islander 22:31 Archived in Malaysia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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