We are not amused …

Malaysians are outraged. Why? You might ask – they’re pretty placid people on the whole. Well, there’s a general election coming up, and the ruling party has been busy changing the electoral boundaries to ensure that there’s a majority of Muslims in every catchment area, so that the National Party gets back into power. The…

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Categorised as Malaysia

Chatting up a monk

When I saw the sign, I couldn’t resist – I’ve always wanted to chat a monk up, so I dashed over to the monk assignation area. My monk was called Claim, and he told me all about his life in the monastery and at the university attached to the monastery, where he studies Pali, which…

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Categorised as Thailand

What do Donald Trump, the Prince of Wales and three ugly-looking ladies have in common?

The answer could well be that they all have names that I find easy to remember – which is a definite bonus these days. The new school year has brought with it a whole set of new name problems for me … and I used to think I was good with names. Having finally got…

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Categorised as Malaysia

You can wear any colour you like … as long as it’s red

Things are hotting up for Chinese New Year next week.  Interestingly, it’s always called Chinese New Year, or CNY, even by the Chinese.  In our usual imperialist way, the West seems to have commandeered the term ‘New Year’ for 1 January – so perhaps we should embrace diversity, acknowledge that other New Years exist and…

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Categorised as Malaysia

The School of Hard Knocks

In Malaysia, the School of Hard Knocks is not a precursor of the University of Life and an essential component of any I-dragged-meself-up-by-me-bootstraps success story.  It’s actually a workshop where you can go and learn how to make things out of pewter. I already knew that Kuala Lumpur’s fortune was founded on tin.  KL was…

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It’s a man’s world …

I went to the ballet in Laos – the Ballet Theatre of Luang Prabang – to see a show called ‘The Return of Princess Sida’ The unhappy princess was separated from her husband due to war, and pined for years.  Her husband also claimed to be unhappy to be separated from his wife. Finally the…

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Categorised as Laos

Luang Prabang – Wats and wiring

Laos is a country that loves wires – This picture was taken in Vientiane in a not particularly attractive area, but it was the same story in Luang Prabang, which is a UNESCO world heritage town, full of monks and magnificent temples, called Wats – all gilded and carved and generally very splendid. So I wondered…

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The gardening monks of Laos

As I walked past a temple in Vientiane I was pleased to see that the monks were out doing a bit of topiary and trimming the hedges. There’s something very homely and unthreatening about Buddhist monks, and I’m pleased to be back in a Buddhist country again – if only for a couple of weeks,…

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Categorised as Laos