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Friday, February 10, 2006

READY, SET, GO!

"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are."
Samuel Johnson 1709-1784 : From Mrs Prozzi, Anecdotes of Samuel Johnson 1786.

Today's exciting event was the arrival (by FEDex) of the plane tickets and hotel vouchers for Malaysia. Everything's all set now and in just a month (Mar. 19) we'll be boarding the plane for the long, long flight (20 hrs, 40 min from L.A. to Taipei to Kuala Lumpur). Most everything on the check-list is completed except for buying a new bathing suit and beach thongs. I've renewed my passport, paid for travel insurance and the extra days of hotel stay in Langkawi, had my Hep A booster (malaria not necessary, and that's good as these shots are expensive and not covered by my medical). It only remains to be seen how much spending money I'll have amassed by departure time, but as I've had some extra work lately it shouldn't be a problem. We can start getting excited now!

"Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. He that traveleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel." Francis Bacon 1561- 1626 Ibid "Of Travel"

I've traveled a lot, but never to S.E. Asia so this will be a totally new experience for me. Yes, an education in fact. I'm reading all I can about the places we'll be visiting and looking forward to my adventure into this unknown world of exotica. Of course I'm planning to do lots of writing about my travels so I will be making many notes and publishing blog up-dates here so long as we can locate Web cafes which I'm sure will be plentiful.

"Welcome to Kuala Lumpur: Where the old blends into the new, where rustic charm meets modern sophistication and pristine tracts of rainforest appear in the most unexpected places."

I noticed on the news tonight that there were Muslim demonstrations against Demark and U.S. in K.L. over those stupid cartoons that have cause world-wide strife. Here's another time I am so happy to be a Canadian! And you can bet I'll make sure I have my Canadian flag emblems in plain view. I think their president was wise in banning the cartoons from the country. They've already caused far too much trouble. I'm not anticipating any problems for us as we venture around the city and off to the islands. From all reports the Malaysian people are friendly and welcoming.

Some facts about Malaysia:
Country: Malaysia comprises Peninsular Malaysia and the sstates of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo.
Geographical Location: It lies 2 - 7 degrees north of the Equator. Peninsular Malaysia is separated from Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. The Peninsular shares a common border with Thailand in the north, while its southern neighbour is Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bordered by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei.
Area: 329,758 sq km
Population: 25 million
Capital: Kuala Lumpur (KL)
People: Malays make up about 57% of the population, with Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups making up the rest.
Language: Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the national language but English is widely spoken. Malaysians also speak various languages and dialects.
Religion: Islam is the official religion but all other religions are practised freely.
Government: A Parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislative system, with the Yan di-Pertuan Agong as Head of the State, and the Prime Minister as Head of Government.
Climate: Malaysia has a warm tropical climate. Temperatures range from 21C to 32C. Annual rainfall varies from 2,000 mm to 2,500 mm
History and Culture: Apart from the local Malays and other ethnic groups, immigrants from China, India, Indonesia and other parts of the world have contributed to the multiracial composition of its populaton. Its intersting cultural diversity is largely the result of the country's long and ongoing interaction with the outside world and colonisation by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Its evolution into a cultural melting pot is evident in the unique blend of cultures, socio-cultural activities, traditions, languages and food. The country achieved independance on 31st August, 1957 as the Federation of Malaya. Malaysia was formed with the entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963.

(notes courtesy Malaysian tourist brochures)

We will spend three days in K.L. (all expenses paid) arriving via Taipei; this includes a half-day city tour. Then onward by plane to Langkawi island in the north for 3 days all expenses paid and tours plus four days at our own expense which we hope will include a day-trip by ferry to Penang as well as other sight-seeing ventures. We've been given a bonus night in KL on our return flight, arriving home April 1.

Langkawi: Come to Langkawi - an idyllic island resort where natural wonders abound, where y ou have time andspace to lie in the sun while nature rejuvenates yur body and mind, where serenity surrounds you and where tropical island dreams are made of. You can hear and see birds chirping away every morning, or squirrels playfully chasing each other from tree to tree. Lie back and listen to the melodic beating of waves against the sun-kiessed shores, or count the stars after dark. You are truly in nature's paradise.

The landscape of Langkawi is dominated by lush rainforests and limestone outcrops which abound with a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Langkawi's intriguing cultural tapestry is interwoven with folklore that has been passed down from generation to generation. The many myths and legends connect with different places reflect a strong tradition of storytelling.

Langkawi is blessed with geological marvels, among which is the legend-filled Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells). Elsewhere are extraordinary rock formations and mysterious caves.

Langkawi abounds with quiet caves and bays with enticing beaches of white sand. Sloping reefs harbour a remarkable diversity of marine life. Its waters are ideal for sailing and other activies like snorkelling and diving.

Guess I better hurry and get that new bathing suit!

"As the Spanish proverb says 'He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.' So it is in traveling, a man must carry knowlege with him if he would bring home knowledge."
Samual Johnson 1709- 1784 Letter to Lord Chesterfield, Ibid, April 17, 1778







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