The first decision to make upon planning a journey in to Malaysia is which direction to head in once you leave Singapore. Do you go north east and follow the coast to tropical paradise? Or do you realise it’s monsoon season and go north west and follow the culture?
No prizes for guessing which one I ended up doing. The eastern coast of the Malaysian peninsular is known for the Tioman and Perihentian islands and their unrivalled seas and pristine beaches. The annoying storms that shut down the ferries for months at a time were in full swing however, and so the day before I left I discovered my next few weeks of planned travelling were completely destroyed. Not to worry. We think on the hoof in these parts. Continue reading →
After leaving Hong Kong, one of the first things that caught me by surprise in Singapore was the accented English. Singaporeans and to a lesser extent Malays, speak English as native speakers with (to my ears at least) Indian accents complete with mannerisms such as the head wobble. The usage of the word “lah” here and there in a fashion that is impossible for the outsider to crack in a short amount of time, supposedly has its roots in Chinese. Given the colonial history of the region, this isn’t a huge surprise, especially with the large number of Indians who have made their homes here for well over a century. I was expecting to English to be swept aside in toto as soon as I crossed in to Malaysia but this did not happen. True, the primary language switched to Bahasa Malaysia but I was certainly surprised by the number of locals whose grasp of English was that of a native speaker or close to it. Continue reading →