|Malaysia - first impressions . . . extremely different from Singapore and therefore a lot more like the Asia we were expecting. A little bit more run down, bit more dirty, and a lot more cultural.
Melaka was a great way to get an insight into real Malaysian life. The first city founded on Malaysian soil (once their capital and busy port), it is full of temples, little roads full of market stalls, food halls, and squats!
But you can't get away from modern Western influences as smack bang in the middle is a shopping mall!
On our second day in Melaka we took a boat trip up the river - it was really cool. Plus we had the most entertaining guide ever! Not only did we get to hear about Melaka's history, but also a load of life lessons, including: "Don't get broken hearted, it's worse than cancer", "Don't say die", "Love one another", how to cook for your women, and how to find trousers that fit without trying them on - if you wish to know this piece of advice, let me know!
We also went to a museum about Beauty. Actually amazing. It was all about what different cultures find beautiful - for example: small feet in China, piercings, body art, corsetts, lip plates and so on - really fascinating as it told you why they do them - something we always ask ourselves when we see people deforming their bodies like that. It was really interesting as we could really understand how we, as Westerners, see other cultures - pretty much as "weird". Something we could all do well to change I think.
I must say that so far (even thought I've only been here for a week) I have learnt so much about other cultures. In particular, I've been asking Kunnali a thousand questions about Hinduism and it's all so amazing. And now being in a Muslim country, I have to ask even more questions to really understand their culture - why the women dress as they do and so on - I'm very intrigued. I don't think I've ever been so inquisitive before.
So - Melaka was quite cool.
So far, Asia is just fantastic - particularly the food. And it's soooo cheap. Imagine eating Chinese every day, but being able to try all wonderful, weird, interesting versions of dishes you would have at home for less than 1 or 2 quid. It's just awesome!
So off to Kuala Lumpar - again it's should be another culture shock - but in a good way.