Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Malaysia: Truuuly Asia? Shut up.

Before I launch into my usual inane "I Love This Place" rant, I thought I'd have a complain. This has bugged me for some time and I feel the need to get it off my chest in a (semi) public forum: what the hell is with Malaysia's tourism slogan? "Malaysia: Truly Asia..."

Being a child who grew up with an atlas/ a reasonably educated member of society, I have been well aware of Malaysia's place in the Asian area of the world for some time and never stopped to doubt that it was "truly" Asia. However, much like when someone complains about how nice they are, when a country repeats over and over again how truly Asian they are, it gets me to thinking: well, what alternative viewpoint are they fighting so strongly against? Is there a group of people out there who argue that Malaysia is not authentically Asian enough? Not like Those Other Asian Countries on the mainland where their connection to Asia, that mythological place, cannot be thrown under scrutiny. In any case, this brand of thinking only annoys me more since I passionately detest claims for/ against some puritanical notion of 'authenticity.' Like those 'farang khi nok' who haughtily proclaim to hate Bangkok, as they prefer the 'real' (/true) Asia* and shuffle off in their fishermen-pants to Laos, where they watch Friend's re-runs and drink from 10am. 

* Ignoring the ten million plus Thai people who are obviously living tragically inauthentic lives in Bangkok/ the rich history of Asian megacities (Angkor had a population of one million when London only had 100,000). 

So, Malaysia, your tourism campaign sets us off on very much the wrong foot. But luckily for me, and the world at large, PR marketeers don't actually constitute a large majority of the human population. And on my first afternoon in adorable Melaka, this is what I found: 

Jonker 88 - Famous eatery in Melaka 
Chicken curry and rice (5 ringgits) and fresh orange juice
Day 2 I woke up as refreshed as is possible in the tropics and spent the good part of four hours biking up and down the river. The architecture kills my heart. 

One side of the river
And the other... 

Some eatery somewhere
Hey! My bestie (the bike)
Menu at eatery above
Nasi Goreng (5 ringgit)

Dream houses

These funny little cats live with their owner in a glorious second-hand book shop. I swapped my copy of "The New Republic" by Lionel Shriver (fun read, but not mind-blowing) for a copy of "Our Man in Havana" by Graham Greene, which I am very excited about. 

The owner said "yeah, I do have some good books in there" to me, in response to my compliments, and I told him I'd worked in a bookshop for a years and understood the need to stock some nonsense. He said "well yeah, mostly it's given to me by backpackers" and I sighed with agreement.*

*I know I'm a backpacker too, but really you guys. 

Then the sun scared me into submission and I biked home. This is the street next to mine and I like to bike around the block the long way home, just to go past it again. 

1 comment:

Jill L said...

Love. Especially photos from the bookstore! (of course you were in a bookstore!)