Thursday, 22 March 2007

Sleepy in Malaysia

I'm in Malaysia, and really enjoying it, but good golly I'm tired. With skipping forward eight hours, spending a day in the air, being forced to fast for a medical, and being thrust from hotels to base, I've lost track of what day it is, and my body refuses to believe what the daylight and various timepieces are telling it. Hence, I went to sleep at 10pm last night and woke promptly at midnight, and refused to go back to sleep again.

Apart from the random attacks of drowsiness though, Malaysia is extremely pleasant. Even the Halliburton base, where I've been working for the last couple of days, is alright. The hotel resort I'm staying at is great. It's right next to a massive stretch of beach that's pretty unpopulated by tourists, and is fully equipped with plenty of facilities, should I have time to use them. The breakfast is perhaps the best I've ever seen. Yes, make no mistake, I am not one for idle exaggeration, the breakfast here is terrific. This morning I ate what I think was the largest breakfast of my life, with three giant courses of Chinese-style noodles washed down with about twenty glasses of fresh orange juice. I could barely finish my coffee after.

I got here on Tuesday night, following three flights, which doesn't include the first flight of Monday morning of Dublin to Inverness. It was delayed by an hour, and with the terrible weather conditions causing it, the road to Aberdeen was pretty poor. I arrived at work just in time to realise that the only way I could possibly make the first leg of my flight, to Heathrow, would be to drive like a man possessed in Aberdeen rush hour. I've never missed a flight in my life, but I came damn close this time. Check-in had closed, but a sly wink and shimmy of the lips persuaded the woman behind the desk to let me slip through.

Everything after that was routine. To my perennial disgust, I was placed in economy class, but for the 12 hour Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur leg I managed to score the best seat there. While others were crushed in unquestionable misery, I had a seat at the front, with good leg room and nobody sitting next to me. I attribute this to the sly wink and shimmy of the lips I threw at the check in girl at Heathrow.

I'm staying in a hotel near a place called Cheratin, which is near a city called Kuantan, which is on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, on the South China Sea. I've had absolutely no time to get a proper look at the place yet, as work duties have seen me on base, sorting out equipment, and undergoing a medical.

All impressions so far have been positive. I'm in a Muslim part of Malaysia, but it's not a crazy version of Islam preached here, and everything's very relaxed. Loads of women are working on base, and the interaction between male and female is normal, which is sadly not the case in some of the other Muslim states I've visited. The people are friendly, the place isn't poor at all, and the pace of life seems comfortable. Even the driving, which some claim to be a bit crazy, really isn't anything compared to any of the African nations I've seen. No, Malaysia, on first impression, is a charming place. I just hope I get a chance to see it more.

It's looking a little unlikely. The job I'm on may not go ahead, so as soon as tomorrow morning I might be preparing to go back to Aberdeen. If this happens, I'm going to arrange a day in Kuala Lumpur, so I can sample a bit of the place at my own leisure. And then I'll just have to mark Malaysia down as yet another place I want to revisit, and get to know on my own terms.

1 comment:

swishfish said...

I really love Malaysia, and found it one of the most tolerant places you could imagine. Certainly an example of how Islam does not have to mean authoritarian. It's not all perfect though, with some tension or resentment between the natives (Malay) and incomers (mostly chinese and Indian), and the strange, Government-censored newspapers.

Let me know if you're going to KL and I can point you in the direction of some of the best things to see.