Ipoh, Merak: What a dump.

You know I have to disagree with the philosophy of the lonely planet books, the way they put a positive spin on everywhere they research. It’d be more honest and _better for everyone all around_ if they told you to just avoid places that had no redeeming qualities.

Anyway, it could be worse. We could’ve been involved in a <a href=”http://users.lmi.net/tcs55/”>bus plunge</a> or been taken hostage or something. And it was our own fault for ending up here. We didn’t plan far enough in advance and didn’t realise the lunar new year would have such a huge effect on accommodations in this country.

The only interesting thing about Ipoh is the local buses. They look like they were made by people who’d only heard descriptions of buses and never seen any.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8464954444/” title=”IMG_1165 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8098/8464954444_54046423f0.jpg” width=”374″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_1165″></a>

It’s mostly my fault. We had to leave Penang and I was given the task of finding the next place to go. There was still a week or a little less til we were due back in KL for the flight out, so I was looking for somewhere in between Penang and KL. In korea, I always like to see the average cities – to see the real korea. And so I thought Ipoh would be similar in Malaysia’s landscape. Fuck knows why I end up turning every trip into some grim documentary. Aren’t holidays supposed be about escaping reality? In conclusion I will say that there appears to be some sort of electioneering on the streets of Malaysia, and it’s promoting “1 Malaysia” in the sense of three ethnicities, one country but when I look at the differences in wealth between KL and Ipoh, the split isn’t between ethnicities, it’s between the city and the rural areas.

In Ipoh, we are staying at the *Tune Hotel*. It’s like staying in a <a href=”http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Borg_cube”>Borg Cube</a>! From the same people who brought you Air Asia, Tune Hotels give you what you pay for and not a jot more. When you pay for the room that’s what you get – the room. You pay extra if you want air conditioning, tv, or even a towel. You can pay some extra for wifi internet but you pay in 24hr blocks, and the password they give you _is only valid for one device_. That’s probably to stop people setting up server farms during their overnight stays. Just like making bookings with Air Asia, there’s a lot of things that can catch the first-time customer out. Like, if you’re ordering the towel and you’re two people, then you need to enter (and pay for the use of) two towels on the booking page. And if you’re staying for two days and you want a fresh towel for the second day, you need to order that too. I’d be interested in trying the flat-rate room for one night to see what it’d be like with no a/c, which is almost mandatory in this heat. Here’s what you do get : bed, pillow, linen, ceiling fan, coat hanger (or 3), 1 international powerplug, 1 british style powerplug, combination mini-safe, shower, toilet, hair dryer, bin, mirror, and a window. Every room is the same size and has a window — that’s Borg-style democracy for you.

What you don’t get is a mini-fridge, optional breakfast, phone, toiletries of any sort apart from toilet paper, and you don’t get any love neither. But sadly, this is probably the future of hotels. Or business hotels at least. To continue the science fiction analogy, I can remember back to my younger days working as a room cleaner at the Park Royal in Melbourne, and it was always obvious when a business person (let’s face it 90% were businessmen) had occupied the room because I could hardly tell they’d been there. Nothing was touched – not the coffee satchels, not the little bottles of shampoo — nothing. And in a few odd cases the bed hadn’t even been slept in — like they’d just stood in the corner and plugged into a power terminal for the night. Those kind of people would love Tune Hotels.

I hope you make a whole lotta money

Two days now gone on the island of Penang. It’s quite nice here though much more built up and populated than I thought it’d be. It was actually the second choice since Langkawi island was all booked up due to the Lunar New Year coming up on the weekend.

I’m sure I mentioned it the last time I was in Malaysia but easily the most interesting thing about it is how the the cultures live together in one country. I don’t want to be some guy making sweeping generalisations about whole nationalities based on a few anecdotal experiences so I won’t say much about it, except that I really quite like the Indian people here.

We went to have a look at this Hindu Temple in KL the other day and after seeing this all-star line up I was sad to realise that I only know one of them by face: Krishna. Vishnu and Shiva are probably in there but I don’t know who’s who. Note to self -> bone up on oriental mythology.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8444610176/” title=”all the gods. by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8098/8444610176_de776dff37.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”all the gods.”></a>

what IS ‘rock the casbah’ all about?

The people here are really nice. Yesterday I was walking around and a guy says hello and we chat a little. He says his sister is about to go work at paramatta hospital in sydney and asked me if I wanted to have lunch so he could ask me about australia. I declined, perhaps a regrettable decision but I was roaming, and frankly I was still a little suspicious of motive despite the vibe of the guy being genuine.

It’s a vastly big difference to Vietnam where pretty much everybody is trying to make an extra buck out of you. It’s almost non-existent here. I don’t know why that is – if it’s a byproduct of the more religious attitude, or if there’s some nasty laws against grifting that I don’t know about. I guess things aren’t as cheap as inn vietnam, but still a bit cheaper than korea.

Another situation was that I was in a line to get a monorail ticket out of a machine at a station. I pressed the buttons to get the ticket I want and waqs about to put the note in to pay but it said it wouldn’t take notes and I didn’t have enough coin to pay. They young guy behind me stepped up, dug into his pocket and gave me about 50cents worth of coins. I tried to give him the note I was going to use as compensation but he wouldn’t have it.

I am digging the muslamic architecture, and just notice that the petronas towers kind of look like minarets.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/4361478223/” title=”IMG_4901 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2565/4361478223_462046370e.jpg” width=”500″ height=”281″ alt=”IMG_4901″ /></a>

Everyone here speaks English quite well. I guess my preconception of the young women wearing the headscarves is that they would be taciturn and a little cool in their approach toward the whiteman, but it’s not the case at all. So I guess I can dig it apart from the thing I notice that there is no equivalent with men. Some of them wear little caps, but very few. When out in groups, the young guys couldn’t be picked apart from non-islamic guys, while the women have the scarf. And so, in order to equalise the situation, I propose that the guys wear <img src=”http://img01.static-nextag.com/image/Ladybug-Headband/0/000/006/850/786/685078616.jpg” />.

Also, I know it’s a thailand thing rather than a malay thing, but I saw a pic of the reclining Buddha on telly and I totally got it. Given the weather and everything. As a novice seeker on the path of slack as a way of being I think I have to get one of those reclining Buddha statues.