Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Merkdeka and the Malayan Trilogy

Today is Merkdeka, or Malaysia's Independence Day. It the nation’s 54th National Day. Malaya was born on Aug 31, 1957. However this year, as the day coincides with the major festival of Eid, or Hari Raya, the Merdeka celebrations will be held on Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

Normally for a week or more before Merdeka, I get noisy helicopters directly over my condo, practising their fly past. But these seem to be less in recent years, maybe due to economic cut backs and this year there have been none (although it was Ramadan).

Purely by coincidence I have just finished re-reading The Malayan Trilogy by Anthony Burgess. And it is a very apt book for this time of year. Unfortunately the book is (or was) banned/restricted (no one seems to know for sure) in Malaysia and I bought my copy from Ebay UK.

The book seems to be on a Ministry of Home Affairs blacklist. The reasons - because it "is offensive to Malaysian society" which translates as it offends the Malays!!! It was written by a mat salleh in colonial times during Independence and describes life in Malaya in a very realistic way.

Burgess paints an amusing but fitting picture of ALL the races - Chinese, Indian (Tamil), Malay, Orang Asli and 'white men' so none of the races are spared.

The book includes all aspects of life, such as work, drinking, money, relationships, etc etc. And it seems that in many respects little has changed in the 50+ years! Even his choice of fictious place names is amusing e.g. Kuala Hantu, Kenching, Mawas, Tikus etc.

See more on Sharon's blog, one comment wrote "The triology diagnoses the potential pitfalls and problems regarding modernisation and ethnic relations then, hence is suppressed for the insights they offer. Sadly, the banning of the book and the current socio-political landscape seem to reflect and further confirm the issues and narrowmindedness our country suffer from."

Another amusing snippet Set in postwar Malaya at the time when people and governments alike are bemused and dazzled by the turmoil of independence, this three-part novel is rich in hilarious comedy and razor-sharp in observation. The protagonist of the work is Victor Crabbe, a teacher in a multiracial school in a squalid village, who moves upward in position as he and his wife maintain a steady decadent progress backward."

Burgess raises some good points about the country on the verge of independence. See more on Wikipedia, which suggests that copies may be available in Malaysian bookshops.

In the US the book is called The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy.

It is an excellent read and I recommend it to everyone, Malaysian and mat salleh!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Luang Prabang Phou Si hill

One thing most tourists do whilst in Luang Prabang is climb up Phou Si (Phu Si) hill to watch the sunset. There is an entry fee (10,000 kip, US$1).
Entry to hill
Starting the climb

When I went up in 2007 it was so crowded that I didn't actually wait for sunset, as there was no where to sit. And I had already seen sunset over the Mekong.

There are great views of the town and rivers from the top.
Russian anti-aircraft cannon
Luang Prabang town -

On the slopes of the hills are some small temples. One is Wat Tham Phou Si, aka as Wat Thammothayaram.
Buddha and monk. Buddha is a bit feminine looking
Flowers in an old bomb -
Fat Buddha
Interesting rock
Nam Khan river
Local kids

See other Luang Prabang albums, street scenes, and temples, and day market, and night tourist market.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Luang Prabang Mekong scenes

The World Heritage town of Luang Prabang in Laos lies on the banks of the Mekong River. The river bank is a good place to go to watch the sunset

Morning view
And a statue on the river bank

See more albums on Luang Prabang PhouSi hill, and street scenes, and temples, and day market, and tourist night market.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Luang Prabang street scenes

These pictures were taken in 2007. It is fascinating walking around the town, down all the side streets, to see the mix of buildings. There were no big shops or supermarkets, just small sundry shops mixed with the souvenir shops and travel agents, and plenty of restaurants. It was quite hard to get cheap local Lao food unless you went to the market, but of course there were plenty of pizza, steak, coffee and bakery shops etc to cater to the tourists. We did find a local shop for beef noodles for breakfast.

The Phousi is one of the best hotels
Telecoms office -
Rice cakes out to dry, and a nice car
Timetable and tours
Strange souvenirs
Wedding group
A fire under the lorry keeps the oil or diesel from freezing
Morning baguettes -
Solitary daytime seller
Main street -
Heritage office
Petrol pumps in mansion grounds -
Street pedicure
Our breakfast shop
Guest house


See other albums on Luang Prabang night tourist market, and day market, and temples, and Mekong scenes, and Phou Si hill.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission