Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Leaving again

Today we're flying to Kota Kinabalu for a week. This is the second time I've flown to Malaysia this year, but the first time to somewhere that isn't a ginormous city.

In preparation, I read a bit of the Culture Shock! Guide to Malaysia, which taught me how to speak like a Malaysian. A Malaysian who's not well equipped with English language skills, and won't be:

"English not got! Next time, not got!"

I doubt the Culture Shock! Guide to Malaysia has given me the best lesson in cultural sensitivity or in speaking Malay. Then again, I've visited Singapore, where apparently all you do to sound like a native is say "la" at the end of your sentences. And then perhaps get beaten with a stick.

Perhaps I'll put this to the test when in Kota Kinabalu, or perhaps I'll skulk in the hotel for a week, reading science fiction novels and eating pizza.

It's now about ten years since I pulled a similar trick in Tunisia, behaving with such indolence and indifference to the world beyond the balcony that after 7 days my travelling companion was climbing the walls. Of course, the only times we had left the hotel everyone mistook me for a German and tried to sell me ever-increasing bales of cannabis, so I had felt it was better to sit in the shade with a margarita and the hotel hi-fi playing a constant loop of Baha Men and Eminem.

Finally, on the second to last day I relented, and we embarked on a one-and-a-half-day bus tour of All Of Tunisia, (perhaps an exaggeration by the tour rep), where we got to visit the Coliseum from Gladiator (I think that may have been a lie), Luke Skywalker's family home from Star Wars (possibly an exaggeration) and ride some camels (most likely genuine, but given every other thing the rep had spouted, I was growing ever more sceptical). I like camels; they're grumpy and have a shambling gait, just like me, and I'm not allergic to them like I am horses.

Finally we drove through the outskirts of a bauxite mine, and then a small child threw a rock which shattered the window of the coach, which really annoyed me as (a) I was now covered in glass and (b) that had been my first opportunity to sit in the window seat and take a nap. The rep was unimpressed by this, and as the coach hurtled on to a carpet shop, he bashed the rest of the window out with his shoe, never contemplating that this was a task better attempted in a stationary vehicle.

Perhaps I could construct a tortuous analogy here about regime change, but it's beyond me.

On the train to Hong Kong airport, none of the windows are being shattered by stone-throwing children, although there is a rather odd advert playing where Donald Tsang, the CEO of Hong Kong, coaxes a frightened rabbit out from under a sofa with a small orange. This is meant to commemorate Chinese New Year, but I think it betrays a lack of understanding about the dietary requirements of rabbits1, as well as possibly suggesting that the people of Hong Kong are easily startled animals, given to hiding beneath furniture and needing to be coaxed forward by judicious application of citrus fruit.

This is a different tack to recent pronouncements by Hong Kong politicos (all Hong Kong youths are running wild and will DIE in a CAR CRASH) and the sight of the top official grinning and standing next to some children holding rabbits does at least imply they don't think all young people are dangerous idiots. Just that they should eat more carrots, perhaps.

That seems a bit disingenous right now, as given the amount of neon lighting blaring out of every shop, office and frozen yoghurt repository in the Special Administrative Region, there's no dark that requires good night vision, but perhaps Donald Tsang knows something we don't. Perhaps we're not going to have electricity for much longer, and we will all need to eat a lot more salad.

Anyway, we're now at the airport, three hours early for our flight, as we've been told, but amusingly enough AirAsia only open the check in desk two hours before the flight departs, which gives us an hour to wonder like confused zombies through the enormous shopping mall that constitutes most of the terminal. It's almost like they want us to spend all our money before we leave the airport. That can't be true, can it?

1 Stop me if you've heard that before.


Minnie Bus said...

This is utter rubbish.

How could you leave HK during a one-liner contest? Yes, I understand that the judging process, as usual, is completely arbitrary and yes why would anyone want to give it away for free. BUT STILL.

Skullduggery! Gerrymandery! Wifflepoofery! And Shennanigans!

Mr Cushtie said...

Ah, I just couldn't cope with the pressure, Ms Bus...

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