Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Malaysia: Friends

Before this trip I only knew one friend currently living in Malaysia: Flic. However, mainly with the help of expat Malaysian Fiona, I met several new friends.


Eating dim sum with Kim. Kim looked after me brilliantly on my first day in Malaysia including a trip to the Batu Caves.


With Flic (3rd from left), Aaron (2nd from left), Flic's Canadian flatmate and her Malaysian colleagues at the Ramadhan markets in KL. Flic kindly hosted me in KL.


I enjoyed a truly memorable evening with Pek Yen and Yinli at Chinese Hawker centre in KL.


Carina and Li Ching generously took time off from work to meet me in Malacca (Melaka) and show me all around that historic city including the best food places :-)


Drinking cocktails with Aaron, Flic and Sharmini (who I had met before in Adelaide) at Pacific Regency's 34th floor Luna Bar.

Thank you all for helping make a fantastic trip!

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Malaysia

The South-East Asian nation of Malaysia was my home from the morning of 7 October to the evening of 12 October.

My brief 6 days there were fabulous and sometime I'd like to go back for a longer period to explore more places and eat more foods. I will eventually upload many photos in differently-themed posts.


Malaysia takes religion very seriously and the government works hard not to offend their resident religions. One example of this is the above censored Malaysian Airlines magazine article. The censored words are "and meet God". Ethnic Malays are automatically Muslims and it is extremely difficult to renounce their religion should they want to. Chinese and Indians have greater religious choice.


2007 is the 50th anniversary of "Merdeka" or independence for Malaysia turned 50 this year. There were indications of this anniversary everywhere. The above celebratory banner contains portraits of the country's 5 prime ministers: Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


Aidilfitri, the end of Ramadan (Malay--Ramadhan; Turkish--Ramazan) holiday was about to take place and there were decorations in many areas. This display was at the entrance to KL Tower (also known as Menara Kuala Lumpur).


The Malaysian postal system is called "Pos Malaysia". POS can also refer to English-language acronyms Point Of Sale or Piece Of ....


This warning sign is attached to a fence on the walk from from Flic's place to KL Sentral. Public signs are usually only in Malay and English although this is also in Chinese and (I'm guessing) 2 Indian languages as it is near the Indian Brickfields area.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Welcome To Adelaide



Being able to walk 10 minutes to a clean, white and almost empty sandy beach is brilliant...

I'm back in Adelaide, Australia, staying with my family in Henley Beach.

Coming from Mersin, Turkey, following are a few of the differences I have noticed in Adelaide:
- distances are far greater around the city
- many more people are overweight
- the standard of dress is less formal
- home is so quiet. The loudest noise during the day comes from wild birds squawking and nights are dead quiet. Each night of my first week when going to bed I had ringing in my ears because I was used to a continual background noise.

I returned from Turkey to Australia via 6 wonderful days in Malaysia. I will write more about Malaysia and upload photos from there soon.

For the first time ever I arrived to Adelaide Airport on an international flight. The immigration guy scanned my passport but he did not obviously indicate to the interrogator that I was a "special" case. After passing through, an interrogator asked me to stand aside. She looked through my passport and questioned me where I had come from; how long I was going to stay in Australia; why had I gone to Pakistan; why had I gone to Iran; why I had visited so many Muslim countries; what I did in Turkey; proof of of my stay in Turkey (I showed the traineeship and work visas in my passport); etcetera; and then let me go to the customs line-up. I doubt the official could read Arabic as she did not ask about my multiple Syrian visas.

Even if I didn't have the Turkish apple tea and duty free chocolates to declare I would have been hauled through the red customs channel anyway. The same interrogator asked me to place my bags on the table and then proceeded to ask me several disclaimer questions before advising me to open my laptop bag for inspection. After putting on the gloves she went through some of my documents, asking more questions on the way. Once satisfied I was not a terrorist threat I was waved on my way.

All through my questioning the official was jovial and calm with a forced smile on her face. I enjoyed the questioning and, as I could justify everything I've done, had no problems answering her questions. I'm sure if I visited the USA with the same passport I would face a much tougher time.

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Leaving Istanbul/Turkey On A Jet Plane

I'm in Ataturk International Airport on Istanbul's European side. I arrived to Istanbul from Mersin via an overnight Mersin VIF bus ride. My flight to Kuala Lumpur leaves in just over an hour. My 36th Turkish stamp is freshly imprinted in my passport and I'm about to go to the boarding gate.

I was meant to have a baggage limit of 30 kilograms for my flight, 10 kg more than normal because of my Enrich frequent flying membership. However, when checking in, the woman at the Malaysian Airlines desk said she had not received word of this. This is despite me calling earlier the Malaysian Airlines office earlier this week and receiving verbal confirmation of the extra luggage limit. Thankfully, I didn't have to pay for extra luggage but am now dragging around two carry-on bags as opposed to one.

In the last few days I've said goodbye to many colleagues and friends in Mersin. Although I'm tired of living there, I hope I get the chance to visit again not too far into the future.

I have to catch up with many emails, replying to comments and sending photos. This may not occur until after I arrive to Australia. Thank you for writing and apologies to those still waiting a reply...
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