I love Malaysia. I love its greenery, its up and down hilly landscape, the colors and designs of the houses, and yes the food.
Malaysians are food crazy. There are food stalls everywhere and the range and variety of food available is just amazing. My first night here Rajendran and his wife took me to a Hindu south Indian restaurant where food is served, traditional Indian style, on plantain leaves. The food was simple but tasty.
I spent the next half-day with Kurnia who drove me around KL and showed me the sights. We went for brunch to a little street-side restaurant and for 10 Ringat (which comes to around 3 dollars) we had a huge and tasty meal (and I mean huge). We also visited the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, an immense Hindu temple situated in cavernous limestone caves. The huge golden statue of Murugan in the front draws people in but the caves are what impressed me the most. You reach the cave-temples by climbing a steep staircase (over 250 steps) and I was sweating profusely by the time we reached the top. But it was worth it. I hope some of the photographs I have taken do justice to this impressive natural geographical structure. Finally she dropped me off at the airport for my flight to Penang.
After a few hours in KL airport spent catching up on email and receiving “offensive and tasteless” error messages from my ISP, I arrived at Penang. Penang is the second largest city in Malaysia and is situated on a little island. This is location of the University Sains Malaysia, the second oldest university in Malaysia, where I will be presenting on Monday. I was received at the airport by Dr. Binti Rozinah Jamaludin, the person most responsible for making this entire trip happen, and it was great to meet with her finally (after more than an year of email interaction – my first email from her is dated February 2007!).
After checking into my hotel Dr. Rozinah took me on a drive around Penang – to a spot known as the end of the world. The drive is stunning, a series of hair-pin bends along a mountain-side, hanging over the edge of the ocean. I saw some interesting restaurants on the way (one called “End of the world cafe” and another was just called “The Tsunami”). We finally had dinner at some street stalls right near the hotel I am living in.
Today (Sunday) was a relatively slow day. I spent the morning (and evening) walking and taking photographs around the hotel and most of the day working on my talk. I have a better sense of the audience now, after talking with Dr. Rozinah, and am pulling together ideas from across a range of different presentations. I see a long night ahead of me, but again given my jet-lag, that’s not as bad as it sounds. Hopefully it will go well.