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1


Malaysia


We don't really know this country. Malaysia is located at the end of the Asian peninsula and closes the Malacca Strait. It is a country that benefits from its strategic position: trades passe there for centuries and empires followed one another until the colonial period. Then European nations invaded this part of the world, then Japan during WWII...
Each region of Malaysia has a king, a sultan or a Rajah. Every five years, a new King of Malaysia is elected, but his role is largely symbolic.

2



Multicultural!

This country is alongside a major trade axis and all the cultures passing by had influenced the Malaysian culture. For example, the Arabs imported islam. I found there a great diversity of origins. I first recognized indigenous and Chinese that trade with these regions since centuries, then minorities of Indonesian, Thai, Burmese and finally Indian people, strongly present on the peninsula.
Each origin has its own face. Together, they form Malaysia.

3



Religion

Malaysia's official religion is islam. But with such an ethnic and cultural diversities, they tolerate every religions. Days are punctuated by prayer mullah, but one can find in the cities churches and Chinese temples. Some tensions appear sometimes, but the atmosphere remains peaceful.

4



Gastronomy

I regret to have left this country because of its food. Away from France for seven months, I need to appreciate tasty gastronomy sometimes. And Malaysia satiated me well. Multiculturalism brings in Malaysia all the best from the cuisine of the world. In every big city, one can find these delicious dishes: Mee Goreng (fried noodles with cabbage and soy sauce), Nasi Lemak (rice with coconut milk), laksa (seafood soup, excellent for breakfast), chapatis chicken curry sauce, Thai soup, skewer squid ... The Malaysian cuisine is a delight!

5


Borneo


Borneo is a large island in the southeast from Asian peninsula. Two thirds of the island belong to Indonesia (Kalimantan region) and the other third belongs to both Malaysia and the small sultanate of Brunei. Malaysian part consists of the states of Sarawak (North West of Borneo) and Sabah (North East). I visited this part of the island for three weeks. Here is an overview.

6



Incredible nature.

We are very close to the equator. The jungle is unusually luxuriant and would cover the whole territory of Borneo without the men's action. So we find there an incredible diversity of animal and plant species that make Borneo an unique ecological treasure. Among the fauna, there are the famous Orang-Utan (which in Malay means "man of the woods"), other species of monkeys such as the proboscis monkey or the macaque, elephants, rhinos, deers, wild boars, crocodiles, snakes, spiders, leeches ... and cicadas! The forest vibrates, hisses and squeaks everywhere.

7



Deforestation

This is the downside of the country. Acres of forest have been cut down for oil palm plantations. According to the growing demand for oil, especially from Asian countries, this resource has range devilishly effective range!
It saddens me to see only kilometers of palm plantations along the major roads. Fortunately, Borneo is huge, and most of its territory is still intact.

8



Unpredictable weather

We can not better describe the weather there that this prose by Henri Fauconnier that I try badly to translate:
"It rains a lot in Malaysia, but we don't live there any of gloomy days. The sky rejoices or weeps hot tears. Often at night, about four o'clock, a taut black veil grows up above the horizon. So taut that when it hides the sun over our heads, it rips and frays. Then we hear the wind coming and the rain behind on the plains like a heavier wind that roars. Suddenly awnings flaps, the roof crackles, the stripped universe disappears. The house isolated in a moving body of water is like a submarine that would quickly go back to the surface. It takes an hour or two, then the bottom of the veil lifts and uncover an angry sun. The red earth smokes, more golden greens highlights with clear contours in heavy masses, on the overseas background of cloud escaping. Malaysia takes this almost daily bath, and the remaining time is a solar cure ".

9



Thunder in Lambir Hills

I got surprised by this weather several times. Once surpassed all others when I found myself with Duncan atop Mount Pantu, in Lambir Hills. From this open views, we saw the storm approaching. We then chose to protect ourselves under a well-built shelter where we were standing and let the storm pass through us. An incomparable experience.
https://youtu.be/WOsAm9PG4iI

10



Some gigantic caves

Sometimes limestone blocks emerge from the heart of the jungle. Huge caves pierce them like Swiss cheese. Niah is a place sheltering a few huge cave whose dimensions are counted in dozens of meters. They are home of millions of bats, that go out hunting at dusk by whole clouds. Their guano that covers the bottom of the cave is widely farmed by workers who work to extract the old guano on vertiginous platforms.
A view of the cave:
https://youtu.be/28L-ap34CHo

11



Tribes

Life in tribe still exists, or at least the presence of the community in people's lives, which does not prevent them from living in the city or even on the peninsula. The bigger tribe in Sarawak - the Iban tribe, former headhunters - holds their annual meeting, the festival of Gawai where everyone returns to its original long-house (see Article 43). Three days of dance, ceremonies, lavish meals and unlimited rice wine. For this time, the area is almost completely paralyzed. Then everyone returns to his former life.

12



Brunei

It is a small sultanate stuck between the states of Sarawak and Sabah. Small in size but big in history! Before the arrival of settlers, Brunei was Borneo rulers. White Rajahs of Sarawak (the descendants of James Brooke), to enlarge Sarawak kingdom, eroded much of Brunei surface. Today Brunei remains independent... because Brunei has oil! So Brunei is rich.
Brunei is an independent, strict Islamist country. It is forbidden to drink alcohol and to hold hands to a woman in public,... The punishments are very severe ($ 2,000 fine for over-speeding, for example). The style is very Arabic. The architecture of mosques is very oriental. The sovereign is even more oriental: his billionaire fortune stark contrast to the poverty of his country.
Quickly you get bored of seeing the despot's luxury along the simplicity of Asian migrants. And as it is an expensive and not very animated place, I didn't stay.

13



Mount Kinabalu

It is a giant summit, in the center of Sabah, culminating at 4095m. We can see its peak from more than two hundred kilometers, and its characteristic shape is as famous there as Mount Fuji in Tokyo. It is sacred to the locals. Two days before my arrival in Sabah, an earthquake forbade me the access to the top mountain. Twenty people perished on the mountain, mainly guides whose attitude was heroic and honored during my stay.

For the record, the earthquake - the anger of the spirits - would have been caused by a group of young tourists (quite stupid) who had fun taking nude photos on the sacred Mount... After the earthquake they were caught by the police and sentenced ... to pick seven different flowers from seven different mountains and collect seven waters from seven different rivers and to present them to the Mount to implore forgiveness to spirits. A damned smart punishment!

1


Malaysia


We don't really know this country. Malaysia is located at the end of the Asian peninsula and closes the Malacca Strait. It is a country that benefits from its strategic position: trades passe there for centuries and empires followed one another until the colonial period. Then European nations invaded this part of the world, then Japan during WWII...
Each region of Malaysia has a king, a sultan or a Rajah. Every five years, a new King of Malaysia is elected, but his role is largely symbolic.



Multicultural!

This country is alongside a major trade axis and all the cultures passing by had influenced the Malaysian culture. For example, the Arabs imported islam. I found there a great diversity of origins. I first recognized indigenous and Chinese that trade with these regions since centuries, then minorities of Indonesian, Thai, Burmese and finally Indian people, strongly present on the peninsula.
Each origin has its own face. Together, they form Malaysia.



Religion

Malaysia's official religion is islam. But with such an ethnic and cultural diversities, they tolerate every religions. Days are punctuated by prayer mullah, but one can find in the cities churches and Chinese temples. Some tensions appear sometimes, but the atmosphere remains peaceful.



Gastronomy

I regret to have left this country because of its food. Away from France for seven months, I need to appreciate tasty gastronomy sometimes. And Malaysia satiated me well. Multiculturalism brings in Malaysia all the best from the cuisine of the world. In every big city, one can find these delicious dishes: Mee Goreng (fried noodles with cabbage and soy sauce), Nasi Lemak (rice with coconut milk), laksa (seafood soup, excellent for breakfast), chapatis chicken curry sauce, Thai soup, skewer squid ... The Malaysian cuisine is a delight!


Borneo


Borneo is a large island in the southeast from Asian peninsula. Two thirds of the island belong to Indonesia (Kalimantan region) and the other third belongs to both Malaysia and the small sultanate of Brunei. Malaysian part consists of the states of Sarawak (North West of Borneo) and Sabah (North East). I visited this part of the island for three weeks. Here is an overview.



Incredible nature.

We are very close to the equator. The jungle is unusually luxuriant and would cover the whole territory of Borneo without the men's action. So we find there an incredible diversity of animal and plant species that make Borneo an unique ecological treasure. Among the fauna, there are the famous Orang-Utan (which in Malay means "man of the woods"), other species of monkeys such as the proboscis monkey or the macaque, elephants, rhinos, deers, wild boars, crocodiles, snakes, spiders, leeches ... and cicadas! The forest vibrates, hisses and squeaks everywhere.



Deforestation

This is the downside of the country. Acres of forest have been cut down for oil palm plantations. According to the growing demand for oil, especially from Asian countries, this resource has range devilishly effective range!
It saddens me to see only kilometers of palm plantations along the major roads. Fortunately, Borneo is huge, and most of its territory is still intact.



Unpredictable weather

We can not better describe the weather there that this prose by Henri Fauconnier that I try badly to translate:
"It rains a lot in Malaysia, but we don't live there any of gloomy days. The sky rejoices or weeps hot tears. Often at night, about four o'clock, a taut black veil grows up above the horizon. So taut that when it hides the sun over our heads, it rips and frays. Then we hear the wind coming and the rain behind on the plains like a heavier wind that roars. Suddenly awnings flaps, the roof crackles, the stripped universe disappears. The house isolated in a moving body of water is like a submarine that would quickly go back to the surface. It takes an hour or two, then the bottom of the veil lifts and uncover an angry sun. The red earth smokes, more golden greens highlights with clear contours in heavy masses, on the overseas background of cloud escaping. Malaysia takes this almost daily bath, and the remaining time is a solar cure ".



Thunder in Lambir Hills

I got surprised by this weather several times. Once surpassed all others when I found myself with Duncan atop Mount Pantu, in Lambir Hills. From this open views, we saw the storm approaching. We then chose to protect ourselves under a well-built shelter where we were standing and let the storm pass through us. An incomparable experience.
https://youtu.be/WOsAm9PG4iI



Some gigantic caves

Sometimes limestone blocks emerge from the heart of the jungle. Huge caves pierce them like Swiss cheese. Niah is a place sheltering a few huge cave whose dimensions are counted in dozens of meters. They are home of millions of bats, that go out hunting at dusk by whole clouds. Their guano that covers the bottom of the cave is widely farmed by workers who work to extract the old guano on vertiginous platforms.
A view of the cave:
https://youtu.be/28L-ap34CHo



Tribes

Life in tribe still exists, or at least the presence of the community in people's lives, which does not prevent them from living in the city or even on the peninsula. The bigger tribe in Sarawak - the Iban tribe, former headhunters - holds their annual meeting, the festival of Gawai where everyone returns to its original long-house (see Article 43). Three days of dance, ceremonies, lavish meals and unlimited rice wine. For this time, the area is almost completely paralyzed. Then everyone returns to his former life.



Brunei

It is a small sultanate stuck between the states of Sarawak and Sabah. Small in size but big in history! Before the arrival of settlers, Brunei was Borneo rulers. White Rajahs of Sarawak (the descendants of James Brooke), to enlarge Sarawak kingdom, eroded much of Brunei surface. Today Brunei remains independent... because Brunei has oil! So Brunei is rich.
Brunei is an independent, strict Islamist country. It is forbidden to drink alcohol and to hold hands to a woman in public,... The punishments are very severe ($ 2,000 fine for over-speeding, for example). The style is very Arabic. The architecture of mosques is very oriental. The sovereign is even more oriental: his billionaire fortune stark contrast to the poverty of his country.
Quickly you get bored of seeing the despot's luxury along the simplicity of Asian migrants. And as it is an expensive and not very animated place, I didn't stay.



Mount Kinabalu

It is a giant summit, in the center of Sabah, culminating at 4095m. We can see its peak from more than two hundred kilometers, and its characteristic shape is as famous there as Mount Fuji in Tokyo. It is sacred to the locals. Two days before my arrival in Sabah, an earthquake forbade me the access to the top mountain. Twenty people perished on the mountain, mainly guides whose attitude was heroic and honored during my stay.

For the record, the earthquake - the anger of the spirits - would have been caused by a group of young tourists (quite stupid) who had fun taking nude photos on the sacred Mount... After the earthquake they were caught by the police and sentenced ... to pick seven different flowers from seven different mountains and collect seven waters from seven different rivers and to present them to the Mount to implore forgiveness to spirits. A damned smart punishment!

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