Malaysia, Truly Asia

If there's a melting pot in Asia, it's got to be Malaysia. Long
before the Dutch and British wrangled over this land, Malaysia
was an ideal crossroad. It fills a peninsula extending from
Thailand to Sumatra and occupies the north coast of Borneo,
south of the Philippines and Vietnam as well. The peninsula's
west coast is the busy Strait of Malacca. The east coast and the
Borneo states form the southern rim of the South China Sea.
Traders crisscrossing this expanse have left their marks over the
centuries. Chinese, Indians and native Orang Asli and Iban lended
their cultures to Malaysia's. Such an expanse, not surprisingly,
encompasses incredible geographic and cultural variety. Kuala
Lumpur pulses day and night as the cultural capital. See
mischievous monkeys at Batu Caves or the soothing butterfly
farm there. But the best way to appreciate this country's diversity
is to see the countryside. Some of the biggest flowers in the
world thrive in lush rain forests atop the peninsula's mountainous
backbone and islands in the Strait of Malacca. Resonance of
Gamelan music hangs in the steamy dense air of Terengganu on
the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula. These shores east to
northern Borneo states form the southern extreme of the South
China Sea like cupped hands. This sea draws divers now as it
has sea creatures for millennia before man. Cute clownfish,
sushi-looking nudibranchs, coral galore, varieties of lionfish,
barracuda balls and pelagic travelers of international waters are
just a start on the sights here. This constitutional democracy now
headquartered in Putrajaya is primarily Muslim, although
Buddhism, Hindu, Christian and Sikhs have strong voices.
Observing local decorum is as advisable here as anywhere. Pack
lightweight clothes. Shorts are OK at resorts, but women
especially should avoid wearing them in cities and outlying
towns. Remove shoes when entering homes. Don't even think of
packing narcotics; the laws are harsh. Water is generally safe at
hotels, but if in doubt drink bottled water. Enjoy world-class
dining where ever you go.
Kuala Lumur Parade. Photo: Bob Sterner
Little Intruder. Photo: Bob Sterner
Tanjong Jara. Photo. Bob Sterner
Nudibranch. Photo: Barbara Krooss
Coral by day. Photo: Bob Sterner
Coral by night. Photo: Bob Sterner
Potato Clown. Photo: Barbara Krooss
Nice presentation. Photo: Bob Sterner
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