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jeudi 17 mai 2012

Breakfast in Indonesia; Lunch in Malaysia and Dinner in Cambodia: Thank you Tony Fernandes, an Indian from Kuala Lumpur


The breakfast was sumptuous indeed! An omelette and a variety of Indo dishes to taste. The strong Sumatran coffee becomes sweeter with the addition of Hot Milk and Gulah Merah (brown sugar). A local herbal concoction of tamarind, cucumbers drink to settle the stomach down.

My friends in Bogor at Joe Travels had organized the transfer. A shiny black sedan appears and within 20 minutes we are at the confusion, they call International Airport of Jogja. They truly have to streamline it a bit. Air Asia is bringing in more passengers than all the other carriers. Flight from KUL was full; the flight to KUL was full! The waiting room can only handle one flight at a time, confusion at the Immigration line as it snakes out of the entrance and people scrambling for the few seats inside the waiting lounge with no amenities whatsoever.  100 K IDR to be paid as departure tax in cash, so I have go out of the security area, find an ATM machine to take out some money, back through the security.
Seat 1F, Joe Travels had organized that for me, wrote postcards all the way to KUL so that I can post them at the airport with the 50 cent Malaysian stamps that I have. I didn't feel good arriving at KUL. After Indonesia, Malaysia appears akin to Singapore in its friendliness. Long lines of Indonesians, poor souls, trying to better their lives, by becoming slaves in Malaysia.
I found the Information booth, which was hidden amidst the cacophony and WCs.
I asked where could I get some Teh Tahrek?
Always ask an Indian; you have a better chance of a reply.
I arrive at a coolie resto- made me feel warm at heart.
Roti Canai plate 12 MYR   $4usd
Teh Tahrek            5 MYR   $1.75 usd

Thought of a recent trip to Malacca and the hotel Puri and the incredible Chinese hostess, who is also the curator of the Cheng Ho Museum. A tinge of nostalgia. Malaysia no longer holds that strong attraction to me, such things happen and one has to accept that… there are other lovelier countries in the ASEAN..
A short flight to Phnom Penh. On Air Asia. Seat 6 C. No one sitting on the row. What was disturbing to observe was a gaggle of young Khmer women, all clad in Malay Moslem costume, head to toe, returning home after indoctrinating courses in Malaysia! Their smiles and giggle, despite their prison type uniform, set them apart! Shame on you, Malaysia. For exporting this destruction of human spirit.
My Khmer friends in Phnom Penh insisted that we walk from the Le Rit’s Boutique Hotel to the riverfront through the active noises of a dusk time in Phnom Penh.
A soothing river cruise as the full moon was lighting up the sky, ripples of its reflection waving to us as the boats pass this part of Mekong River. After that relaxed boat trip, face massaged by that strange mix of warm/cool wind of the tropics –to a newly opened Khmer Resto my friends had selected

Fish Amok
Seafood salad with pepper from Kampot
Good pepper comes from that province, they said
Three entirely different cultures;
But there is an underlying unity.
Hindu and Buddhist influences on the three native cultures of INDO/MALAY/KHMER!
All came from South India and Tanjore, which was the centre of Buddhist learning once upon a time.
Tibet, Mongolia, Malayas, wherever India had preached her wisdom, had been through genuine human relations. To-day my pilgrimage is to witness those historical evidences of man’s holy access everywhere. Also to note is, that India of yore did not preach some cut and dried sermons, but inaugurated the inner treasure of man through architecture, sculpture, painting, music and literature, stamps of which remain in the deserts, woods, rocks, isles, rugged terrain and difficult resolves………”. [Java diary, July 1927] Rabindranath Tagore..
An excerpt in Bengali below:
Sagar jale sinan kori sajala elo chule
bashiachhile upala-upakule.
Shithila peetabash
matir pare kutilarekha lutilo charipash.
Nirabaran bakshe taba, nirabharan dehe
chikan sona-likhan usha ankia dilo snehe.
Makarachura mukutkhani pori lalatpare
dhanukbaan dhori dakhin kare
danranu raj-beshi
Kahinu “ami eshechhi pardeshi”