On the KL Metro.
Kuala Lumpur- Some random Blackberry moments from my days here. KL is a kind of strange, funky place with a serious identity crisis which makes it intensely interesting in a way. It’s small compared to Bangkok, like comparing Los Angeles to San Diego. I’ve shuffled around from hotel to hotel until I found a decent one, the Hotel Sentral, near the KL Sentral train station in the Brickfields area which is mostly Indian and Lankan Tamil dotted with every imaginable religious institution and has the most incredible street food in the city. Unlike the heavily touristed Bukit Bintang area adjacent Chinatown where I first stayed, this area is mostly a local one and the tourists here seem to be all Tamils and Chinese from their respective old countries. I didn’t initially realize arriving from across town in midday while switching hotels that this was KL’s grotty old red light district that once the sun sets, employs literal red light bulbs with dim hallways full of women from all of the surrounding countries trying to make it. Interesting, strange place. At least the hotel is nice. KL has a public transit schizophrenia identical to the one one in Bangkok. The Monorail and the Metro were built by differing companies and to transfer from one to the other you have to buy different tickets and wait in ticket queues twice which exactly the same deal with Bangkok’s Skytrain and Metro system with overly awkward transfers.
This is the most craze haircut I have ever seen. Trafalgar Square punks in 1983 having nothing on this Tamil gentleman going all out for Hari Merdeka tomorrow (Independence Day). That's the Jalur Gemilang (Malay for "Stripes of Glory") flag on his dome piece. His friend in the background is laughing that I'm randomly taking his picture. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Then days later (ie today) I open up a copy of The Malaysia Star in the hotel lobby to see the guy's picture and find out he's 32 and his name is J. Tures and this is the 5th year in a row his has had this done. I didn't think it was the first time. It said it took him 8 hours.
Monorail! High Tech and Low Brow, the KL Monorail glides over Brickfields, KL's trampy red light district to the KL Sentral station, the end of the line. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
KL has some of the best street food in the world I'd say. I've been having Nasi Goreng (fried, spicy rice) from this street cart twice a day. Just over a dollar. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Though it may be in the midst of ramadan here, you might not know it in the midst of Malaysia's shop-a-holic Chinese girls at the city's most swank mall, Pavillion. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
This is a semi-secret essentially Tamil men only bar in the back of a liquor shop. It's men only in that proper Indian women would just simply never come in the place. In dive bars in India, as I recall, men drink to get away from women & family, not to meet women at the bar. I might reckon a woman, of any repute, has never set foot in the place. Totally different mind set. Drinking in this culture is strictly men's business. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Kuala Lumpur- The new issue of MLM is out and online at Jamestown for subscribers. I have an article about the life and connections of Hamburg’s slippery Mamoun Darkazanli and briefs on the IMU finally confirming the death of Tahir Yuldashev and naming a new emir as well as one on the return of Adnan el-Shukrijumah to the AQ scene. Here is the line up for our August issue:
Categories: 9/11, Central Asia, Southeast Asia 9/11, Abu Usman, Adnan el-Shukrijumah, Darkazanli al-Qaeda, death of Tahir Yuldashev confirmed, Hamburg cell, IMU, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jamestown Foundation, Mamoun Darkazanli, Militant Leadership Monitor, Said Bahaji, Tahir Yuldeshev, Tohir Yoldoshev, Usman Adil, Usmon Odil
Ao Nang- Did an elephant trek here today. Went for a ride atop the local megafauna Elephas maximus. These beasts of burden now take tourists around instead of logging. The other day one of their cousins, a 22 year old female up north in Lampang Province stepped on a land mine along the Burmese border and it gave me a little perspective on these gals down south who don’t have it so bad I rationalized.
Drinky, drinky. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
And we're off! Follow your nose. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Eyeing up the farang in her midst. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Don't bother me, I'm eating. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Our guide takes a well deserved smoke break with a coconut leaf cigarette. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
My beast of burden works up an appetite and wrestles palm fronds. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
End game. Time to wallow in their mud. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Reporting for duty! She is already gearing up for the next group of tourists.©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Ao Nang- I have a new article in this week’s edition of Jamestown’s Terrorism Monitor about the recent, somewhat mysterious grenade explosions following a recent by-election for a parliamentary seat in Bangkok. The drama in BKK isn’t quite keeping all the tourists away from The Land of Smiles, just a lot out of the capital. Click on the blurb to read on.
Ao Nang beach before. Happy days are here again. ©2010 DHF
After. It's go time! ©2010 DHF
Ao Nang- I had planned to head out to the island Ko Phi Phi Don today when a nearly 6ft tall Nordic girl interrupted my conversation with the woman about to vend me a ferry ticket yesterday warning of particularly rough seas from a monsoon bank that would make landfall sometime today. I was doubtful of the severity of her warning until the whipping reality came to fruition exactly as she’d said. Unusually for the past week, it was all blue skies when I woke up today and I was psyched to continue work on my nascent tan, a tan which has been dormant since my last recent summer of glory, 2005. From blue to black, the Euro sun worshippers packed up and scurried off and I was the last man off the beach. I actually like being on the beach when it rains. OK it wasn’t exactly the Saigon embassy evacuation in ’75 but still…
My flight from Ao Nang beach wasn't quite this dramatic but I'm nonetheless proud to say I was the last man off the beach.
Dude looks like a ladyboy
Thailand has some funny contrasts that are probably healthier than a lot of other countries in terms of societal harmony. I rocked up to a street curry stall after buying my ferry ticket to Phi Phi and it was run by a Malay gal in hijab with a ladyboy waiter/waitress and they made a mean team. Not really knowing what it was I ordered the “Indian” curry thinking it might be milder than the ubër hot Thai curries I’ve been sweating out the past few weeks. Wrong. The Indian curry was not some south asian dish whatsoever, but apparently the hottest of all the curries sold there. Needless to say the hijabi girl and ladyboy were having a few laughs at my expense as I broke into a full sweat with Scandanavian tourists looking at me as if a sidewalk spectacle. I had to sprint to the store for a large, cold Chang® immediately afterwards.