On December 24, we flew off to Malaysia. This is a beautiful country attached to Thailand, northeast of northern Indonesia, bordering on the South China Sea. First, we headed to Pangkor Island. Santa had nothing on us – a car ride, 2 planes, an airport shuttle, 1 night in airport hotel, bus, taxi, ferry, taxi, golf cart, then finally arrived to our room and the beach on Christmas afternoon. Our friends, Kristy & Matthew, had arrived the day before and had the layout established. This meant that they knew where the pool bar was, and a few other key spots. We had four days of sun, relaxation, people watching, swimming, monkey watching, peacock fanning, lizard monitoring and your basic vacationing. Tim went snorkling for the 1st time. I was happy to finish a few books. What a beautiful spot in the world to spend Christmas!
After Pangkor, we took shuttle van, ferry, taxi, shuttle bus and limo bus to arrive in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city and home to about 1.5 million people (28 million in the country overall). This city is also home to the Petronas Towers, standing tall at 452 meters. They were the tallest in the world for 5 years until Taipei 101 measured in at over 500m in 2003. Now, the Towers rank at #5 in the world. There is a sky bridge built between them at the 41st and 42nd floor, and yes, visitors are welcome. We visited the sky bridge, and the observation deck on the 86th floor. Both gave excellent views of the city on a beautiful day.
I found Malaysia to be a beautiful and diverse place. Fifty percent (50%) of their population is Malay, 20% Chinese, plus so many from India, Myanmar and beyond. Sixty percent (60%) of the people are Muslim, 20% Buddhist, 10% Christian, as well as a showing of Hindu, Taoism and others. The people were friendly, welcoming, and happy to wave for pictures then ask you for one back. This country made me think a lot about being an American abroad, about religion and faith, and about US relations in the world.
Malaysia is not without problems, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that. Within 5 minutes on the highway, I was struck by the billboard advertising a 3 digit phone number to report human trafficking. In Kuala Lumpur, you have gorgeous tree-lined avenues and massive architectural complexes, while a kilometer away, a rat runs across the sidewalk as you shop the local stalls. Such is the world. When we travel, I try to stay open-minded and open-eyed about the adventure; taking the good, the great and the don’t-ever-want-to-see-again. For the record, the latter includes the rat. And a monkey stealing a danish from my breakfast plate.
Enjoy a few pictures. We enjoyed taking them. For animal lovers, you’ll want to see our monkey shots… http://youtu.be/gA5aF6Xbghw