Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Photos from Perentian island

1 rickshaws in Kuala Terrenganu
2 treehouse at a backpacker's hostel on Kecil island
3,4 scenes on Kecil island
(click on a photo to get a large version of it).
Some more photos from that amazing island on the North East coast of peninsular Malaysia - Perhentian Kecil. Which I visited early May.

Maintenance work

Am currently on 2 weeks "course break" - ie we are not doing kids camps, but other types of work. This week - going around to different campsites on Tuba island and maintaining them. involves digging out toilet bins, emptying the compost into the ground, digging a new pit. and reinforcing existing pads for the kids' shelters on the ground. Lots of spade work . quite easy going, and a nice break from the usual routine. Got friendly with David, a new recruit I've been working with this week. He's chinese Malaysian and speaks good english, as do quite a few chinese Malays, compared to "Malay" Malays. Well educated - he understood blood sugar peaks when I talked to him of the perils of too much white bread and such.

I invited him to my place - I am now alone in the appartment, as Marie-Eve has gone on the "Puteri Matshuri" tall ship, along with her boyfriend Gil. The ship is owned by the parent company of wilderness centre, and they use it to train Navy cadets. So some of our staff go on it for 2 months or so, once in a while. So , we watched "blood diamond" - a DVD where Di Caprio plays an ex-mercenary who joins forces with a black ex-miner to find a blood diamond he buried. All set in violent Sierra Leone in the 90s. A good film, you can feel some of the beauty and terrible violence of Africa. and De Caprio is refreshing as the non-politically correct tough guy.

Last week was with "Sella", a 34 yr old young woman trainer, on course. We had a very good group of kids - cheerful and had some initiative. On the last day, several of the guys shook my hand, which is usual. But also, 3 of the girls came forwards and shook my hand, which is fairly unusual. it's nice to be appreciated when you're busting your ass for people.
Sella was very easy to work with - older and more mature than most trainers - very relaxed ,but efficient. She's been 10 yrs inthe local army reserves, as is quite common with trainers here. Told me how they dug trenches and tunnels for the wet season.

We both slept in a hammock. I'm really getting used to sleeping in the hammock. It is very relaxing to be in one at the end of the day. And it's conveniently of the ground, away from ants and toxic centipedes and the like. Mossie coils lighted every night. the mossies can be really thick at some campsites...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Islamic law in Malaysia

There is a Religious Police here, akin to the thought police in "1984". if you're chinese or indian, or a white guy, you're exempt from their attentions. That is, unless you sleep with a muslim. If they find you out - they can ambush you in your room - you are not flogged, as I beleive , in Saudi arabia, but you are fined, and a can be forced to marry the person you slept with.

If you are concerned about ID cards being introduced in Oz... well we've had them for ages in France, and it's really not a problem - it's mainly used to weed out illegal immigrants. Listen to this one: in Malaysia everyone has a ID card, with their Religion stamped on it ... yes you read that right. I plan to have a photo of a scanned one on this blog later. it also has a microchip on it , for various info which I am not aware of.

So, as a young lady in the office explained to us when we first arrived, when she tried to eat during Ramadan, she went into a KFC in Kuala Lumpur and was just about to eat her order, when a plainclothed Religious Policeman (they all are) asked her for her ID. It showed she was Muslim, and she was fined and ordered out of the restaurant.

She said her mother had threatened to disown her if she had sex before marriage - but although she considers herself Muslim, she wants to live. So she already has a "one way ticket to hell" as she explained laughing.

On another occasion, she got drunk at a KL nightclub (drinking alcohol is forbidden for Muslims) , and the Religious police raided the nightclub. The result was a night in prison plus a fine. So next time you think civil liberties are threatened in Oz or the USA, think again.

If the Europeans loose their will to hand over a decent and gentle civilization to their kids, and in 20 years or so , Islamic law exists in Holland (1 million non-integrated Muslims) and in other Euro countries, I would not be all that surprised. Islamists have already killed spectacularly in Holland with the killing of the film director Theo Van Gogh, after he made a short film critical of Islam's treatment of women. The threat to kill or bomb or riot is being used all the time in France and other Euro countries.

In practice, In Malaysia, there is quite a bit of variety of behaviour. Places like Kuala Lumpur are pretty free and easy "KL girls do what they want" is a common refrain. There are even brothels in most towns, including Kuah, where I live. Mostly with Thai girls who come over for a few months or more. The police gets paid off to turn a blind eye to all this. Once in a while they make a raid , send the girls back over the border. Then the next day, the same or others come back on a ferry. Although in theory, homosexuality is punishable by death, In Malaysia, I have seen several homosexuals. There was one amusing one as a steward on my flight over here on air Malaysia. Then another - a waiter here in Langkawi. So it's not altogether an Orwellian hell here.

I would say that any form of Islam that comes to power in Europe is likely to be far more intolerant than that practiced here. So much for multiculturalism and self-flaggelating "western culture is bad and tea-drinking arabs are more refined and exotic" thinking.

On Easter, there was an easter display at the local shopping center. And apparently during Christmas , American christmas carols are played at shopping centers! - because malays like christmas carols. Contrast this with UK muslims trying to ban public creches or christmas trees
in public places because they find this " offensive" . Yeah well I find people with red hair "offensive", but thats tough luck for me - because the law only gives in to muslims in Europe...
And in Victoria with the "racist speech" laws, which only apply to non-muslims, in practice.

Dentist and French Yachties re Islamic Fundamentalism

Well, another week of MOE (ministry of education course), with 2 nights at my favorite campsite - Tiloi island, where one can relax in the evening on the beach and watch the sunset or the clouds above Gunung Raya, the high point of Langkawi island. Energy levels fairly good. My back has been giving me no problems recently... highliting an Cairns chiropractor's advice : use it or loose it. I am slowly getting physically stronger due to the course - more muscle definition, lost quite a bit of weight around my waist - had some serious love handles there which I gained during my stay with my father 2 years ago. I started taking vitamin supplements (a variety of them ) during the course a little while ago - as the food really isnt all that good: a lot of white rice, quite a bit of fish and crab balls (healthy), a smattering of overcooked vegetables.

I also make porridge for myself every morning with my small solid fuel cooker. one of the poorest breakfasts is on day 1, when the kids are expected to function on a few slices of white bread and jam (yes you read that right). it really makes u appreciate the quality of such courses in Oz, where nutrition is far better, and kids get morning and afternoon tea with fruit (as opposed to tea biscuits , when they are lucky here). we get one or 2 fruit a day, mostly - not too bad.

Got of course a bit earlier than others on thursday morning, to have my wisdom tooth pulled out... turned out really fine. I was warned it could take up to 2 hours. But in fact it took 20 minutes. Had a local anaesthetic and the efficient chinese dentist lady pulled it out with some twisting. Gad. well thats that over with ! it had been giving me occasional serious pain, as it was rotting. Both wisdom teeth had grown sideways, and the other one will need pulling out later. cost 60 ringit , including prescription drugs = 20 aus$ ... wow.

At the dentist, I talked to a French couple who were here in a yacht. have been yachting for the last 20 years and know Malaysia very well. They were in their 60s. They said that in the last 15 years there has been a very noticeable rise in "integrisme" on Langkawi - ie Islamic fundamentalism. I asked them how this was felt, they said - in a distance towards them , in the increase of women with headscarves, in the large increase of signs in arabic writing.
Apparently other Malaysian places, such as nearby Alor Star or Penang (50% chinese population) are much more liberal.

This all comes from Saudi Arabia - which is gleefully exporting one of the most medieval and intolerant of all Islamic creeds: Wahabism - which says that the entire planet should be converted to islam, by choice and the use of force. Petrodollars and a miserable creed, creating Mc franchises all over the globe - financing Mosques, educating preachers, which in turn brainwash the populace. The French actually used the term "brainwashing". Wahabist franchises In Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines, France, the UK, Australia... all more or less covertly supporting worlwide Islamic terrorism , with vocal encouragement, or refusal to condemn, and with cash.

I read recently that the FIS - the islamic front in Algeria killed 150 000 algerians, in 90s. I remember that period well - we had bombs going off in the Paris metro due to that merry bunch. so Islamic terrorism isn't just a problem for the USA - it is active virtually everywhere, and is a very big problem in Islamic countries themselves - as witnessed in Algeria, and now in Irak. There have been bombs in Malaysia, also kidnapping of westerners... I knew of this before coming here. And As I said to my mother, don't pay a ransom for my liberation if I get kidnapped - I want to know the bastards can't use me to finance their murders and nihilism. And I don't want Al Jazeera and other advertising agencies for Islamic terrorism to use me for their little media circus showing the kidnapped on TV. Let it be known I will not be payed for, then They will kill me and hopefully not bother with telvised pleas. The British hostage was a case in point - whereas US relatives of kidnapped quietly acknowledged that their loved one was already dead.. The British dragged it out like nobody's business, running around like headless Eurochickens giving the terrorists a great advertising venue , with the result that he was finally killed anyway...

When I was in Kuala Terrenganu, on the other side of the peninsula a few weeks ago, there were big colour posters showing 2 and 5 year olds reading the Koran out loud in front of big crowds in a kind of rock concert venue. Brainwashing alright. The kids can't even understand what they are reading, let alone debate with the preacher.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Walk up to 700 m


1 and 2 : view from top.
3: Jason and I drinking VB after a hard climb.
(click on a photo to get a large version. Then click on the cross on the photo - top right hand corner, to get back to the blog).
Today, rented a car and drove with Jason, a colleague, to a waterfall.
We then walked up a very steep jungle track, using all 4 limbs, with the help of a rope that there as a handline. up about 600m to a high peak on a narrow ridge. With a view of the cable car station where many tourists go up. And a view of the whole island. We both enjoyed it very much. Good to be outdoors just for oneself for a change.
Jason is from Pensylvania, USA, and has 6 yrs experience as an outdoor educator.

My energy levels are finally back to normal - after my spell of exhaustion. I sympathize with mothers now... that feeling of never really being fully rested isn't pleasant. Jason was saying that in the US, he would do short contracts of 2 or 3 weeks of such work, then have 1 or 2 weeks off to enjoy the outdoors - more my style. You really have to recharge during yr time of in this job - in my case 2 days a week, mostly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On France and Chirac

Chirac is a good example of the dangers of immobility – there is no such thing as stability in this world : things are either getting slowly better or slowly worse. And inaction of Chirac’s kind has lead France to be on a very definite slope downwards. Vicious violence endemic in no-go zones all over France, hundreds of thousands out of work for years, and a general malaise and feeling that your kids are going to live in a France that is worse, socially and economically than you have enjoyed. 2 million French living and working overseas – who have left this beautiful country , fed up with the red tape, the feudalism, the lack of optimism and vigour prevalent in France. And the lack of political will to effect any real changes.

Read Patrick Baudry on-line for examples of French disfunctionality and “schizophrenia” , and ideas of how this could be changed with a little self-analysis and courage:

he has an English version of the book you can download for free. Unfortunately the press reviews on his website are all in French…

For the results of Chirac’s do nothing and posture attitude:
Check out 3 weeks of vicious rioting in winter 2006 in the no-go zones around French cities as the result of years of lying about the real problems in these zones, and also the real disfunctionality in almost all aspects of French life, which makes social mobility almost non-existent in these zones, and even in all of France.
If you feel any sympathy for the rioters here’s a taste of what they are: They poured petrol on a handicapped woman in a bus and set fire to her (she was rescued by the driver)… drug gangs, tribal hate of white French , fuelled by radical Islam.

I remember during the Yugoslav civil war in the 90s - civilians being slaughtered horribly in ethnic cleansing , village by village. In France, we were just a few hundred kms away from the carnage ... and I had spent a month in Yugoslavia in 89', making the war very real to me.

What did France do ? nothing... send a few soldiers with the UN to monitor the slaughter with no real mandate to intervene militarily. Chirac was banging his fist on the table and saying "Milosevic must stop the killing!". without the threat of force - bombing targets in Belgrade or something similarly dramatic, such statements have no effect whatsoever.

Things finally changed when Blair and Clinton engaged in bombing bridges , TV stations and other infrastructure. (hidden Tanks proving hard to hit). And of course - the French Govmt complained and tried to water down the target list... leading the Democrats at the time to say they would never work with such obstructionists again.
so what's new ? old and in the way.... you would have thought the Nazi occupation of France would have brought home the lesson that "peace kills" - pacifism leads to slavery and death - of other countries you refuse to assist, then of your own country, as dictators sensing weakness, blackmail, or invade. And as internal forces (eg radical Islam in France currently) test your will with squirmishes.

I do hope this changes with the new president Sarkozy. So Milosevic finally did loose thanks to anglo-US action ... this came rather late - after 200 000 civilians had been slaughtered by mostly Serb forces. I’m sure their families have a high opinion of Chirac’s “softly-softly” approach.

Yes, civilians die in bombings and wars of liberation – The Normandy landings are a good example . But that’s the complexity of life – there are no perfect solutions in such cases – choose between 5 000 dead civilians in a war of liberation or 200 000 in ethnic cleansing if you do nothing …. Inaction is a choice that has consequences.

Why I publish this Blog

Well, I've thought of avoiding political comment on this blog, so as to make it just an "adventure blog" .... but I will make some comments... now on France, and later on the joys of Islamic law in Malaysia.

This blog is my "adventurer's blog" - warts and all - as my father would have said. The good times, the bad times. But also my opinions on systems and laws where I travel and elsewhere - like a journalist if you like . I know there are at least a few family friends in Melbourne reading this blog who are interested in opinion pieces.

And I don't believe there is such a thing as "objective journalism" - most news reported from Irak focuses on bombs, not on reconstruction, for example. Everyone has an opinion, and I would prefer if journalists stopped pretending to be neutral.

and beleive me, I am not politically correct. Ie I will let no thought-police censor what I say. So If my opinions offend you, please move to some whitewashed media outlet where people repeat polite falsehoods that are contradicted by reality. And in an effort to offend no-one, make statements that condemn no-one, or that cannot be used as guides to action , and are just empty words.

Having lived and suffered in France under Chirac - the master of empty statements and pompous posturing leading to inaction - I have a pretty short fuse with that kind of thing.
He epitomises the worst of European impotence and lack of backbone.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Great Holiday on island

Quick update here - had a Great few days on Perentian Kecil island, on the other side of the malay peninsula from where Langkawi is. Crystal waters, coral, coloured fish , deserted beaches, and a big beach with lots of backpacker places. great laid-back atmosphere - felt like Tahiti. Incredible place. And cheap.

(click on a photo to get a large version of it). So much revived.... and rotation leave this week, so a 4 day weekend. Got professional acupuncture for 15 $ (cheap) in Langkawi.
French election ... may the best win and finally pull France out of the doldrums, economically and socially. A lot of work to be done.