Archive for August, 2010
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.
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:
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.
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- 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…
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.