Sunday, December 17, 2006

Old times

Morning in Bangkok and the residents of the cozy house are stirring, the internet terminals getting busy. The sun is shining outsideand it promises to be a good day, not too hot at 30 degrees and we should avoid the rain which has been falling daily in Kuala Lumpur for the past six weeks.

Yesterday, for example, was a bit of a grey day as we went down to the coast past rows and rows of newly built smart-looking terraced houses in the Klang Valley. Not every development seesm to be equally successful, but there is no doubt that there is a tremendous amount of development going on and the estates being built seem to providethe inhabitants with large-ish houses, with a garden and room to park the car. The car is a majot\r part of everyone's life in Malaysia, as the public transport system is not so good, while everywhere large wide roadsare being built to allow the growing number of car owners (a million new cars every year) to go shopping, go to work and visit friends. To be honest, the land around here was not the most attractive, being a flat flood plain, amking Aunty Nina think it not a very sensible place to build. Later in teh day we would see similar developments around Seremban, and there surrounded by the green forested hills, it seemed a much better place to be.

We stopped a few times by the beaches, low flat beaches looking over the low flat and very busy Straits of Malacca. Therewould be families under the trees or fully dressed in the water, backed up by food stalls and kite sellers... great to see kite sellers again, as kite flying is an old Malay tradition, notably on the east coast, which ahd sort of disappeared.

The road along the coast was a lot more interesting than the raod to the coast, as we passed old cocnut plantations, new oil palm plantations, market gardens, growingsalad vegetables and dragon fruits, durian plantations, old towns and villages, many with the 1920's shop fronts, all the restaurants and stalls, by the side of the road. Wecannot go anywhere like this without Aunty Nina wanting to stop and treat us to some local delicacy, so we had goreng pisang (fried banana), freid tempe, rambutans and a durian, this all taking us back to the various times in teh past when we have come out and stayed with our uncle and aunty.

I was just saying how the landscape looked like the Malaysia that we knew and loved before, when a few hundredmetres further on we came across some signs denoting we were passing through the Guthrie-owned Tanah Merah estate. This was the very place where Uncle Malcolm was manager in 1970 and 1972 when we stopped off on our way to and from Australia and would be the first memories I would have of Malaysia. So although I did not actually precisely recognise this as being Tanah Merah, the lines of the hills, the rows of oil palms (then rubber and oil plams) and the feel of the place was sufficiently familir to my brain to prompt my comment about this being the Malaysia we knew and loved. We had such happy memories there, being the place most of us learned to swim, tghe place weher Aunty Nina kept her pet monkey, dogs and cats, the beautiful garden and trees filled with Golden Orioles, the visits to the estates and all the stories of teh malays, Chinese and Indians, watching them tap the rubber, lookingat all the cups attached to the treesand so on....

Money run out again, time to go.



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