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Malaysia: After Thoughts

All 431 pictures from beautiful Malaysia have been uploaded. The 16-day overland journey through the multicultural, multifaith country has not only rewarded my taste buds but also opened my eyes to a people and culture that I have been taken for granted, mostly in their Islamic faith. All my pre-trip worries about transportation and and schedule have quickly dissolved as friendly locals offered their help with solicitude.The trip has moments that will last a lifetime, and these moments are often the most trivial and true-to-life–standing on the remains of Melaka’s St. Paul’s Church, watching the tea pickers on the terrains of Cameron Highlands, and chatting with the volunteer at National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur. These moments bridged the gap between anticipation and reality, something I cherish the most about traveling alone.

Cameron Highlands Pictures

Bookey Wookey has tagged me for this interesting meme that I have seen here, here, and here. I’m snapping into it but I need a little more time contemplating the answers to questions on three characters I would bring to life and the VIP reading recommendation. My answers will be posted tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy the highlights from Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, the complete set is available on Flickr.

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Cameron Highlands is my favorite place of all during the trip. It’s outlandishly tranquil and relaxing, free of all commercial vestiges. You will understand why I love this place so much after checking out the pictures yourself. The locals are charming, friendly, and embracing.

Melaka Pictures + Reading Update

The second installment of pictures from Malaysia is now available. They are snapshots of beautiful and serene Melaka, once an important port along the strait but now is striving in silence. It was thrice colonized, by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Brits. You may see the highlights from this slide-show:

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A bit of a reading update. I have cleared the vacation pile except for one book, Contempt by Alberto Moravia, which I’ll get into eventually. The Russian Reading Challenge is moving along fairly well with two books down: Le Bal and The Kreutzer. Many of you have read and plan to read The Master and Margarita, which I have mentioned in yesterday’s post on Booking Through Thursday. The class for which I serve as a GSI (graduate student instructor) this term will also read Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog, which will be my next Russian novel. Acquired from abroad is a novel translated from Thai called The Judgment, by Chart Korbjitti. It revolves around a young man who, less than a month after his father died, has taken his stepmother as his wife. Rumor has it that the two of them have cuckolded the old man before he even laid in the coffin.

I’ve been keeping a list of books that some of you mention. A partial list has been drawn from ideas of the last BTT post on bloggers’ favorite books that are unheard of. Someone mentions Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, a favorite author of mine. Another blogger shares about A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. A while back Gentle Reader recommended Black Swan Green: A Novel by David Mitchell to me, an author I have never read. The same title surfaced again in Danielle’s post yesterday. On the same list of hers is Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran, which sounds very comforting for the rainy, cold weather that we’ve been having lately. A recently-found literary blog of great staying power has led me to authors and titles that I’m not familiar with. Two books he has pointed out are Black Dirt by Nell Leyshon and Pilcrow by Adam Mars-Jones. This last book especially intrigues me with the hero’s opening lines:

“I’m not sure I can claim to have taken my place in the human alphabet… I’m more like an optional accent or specialised piece of punctuation, a cedilla, umlaut or pilcrow, hard to track down on the keyboard of computer or typewriter. Pilcrow is the prettiest of the bunch, assessed purely as a word. And at least it stands on its own. It doesn’t perch or dangle. Pilcrow it is.”

So there you have it, my line-up of books for the rest of this month and February. Happy reading and happy Friday.

Kuala Lumpur Pictures

The first installment of pictures from Malaysia is now available. I haven’t uploaded all 800 some pictures from the trip because I need time to sort through them and write a bit of description for each. Enjoy the sceneries of Kuala Lumpur. The complete set is available in my Flickr page. Here is a slide show of the highlights:

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Kuala Lumpur | Three Towers 11/30/07
Kuala Lumpur | Bookstores 12/1/07
Kuala Lumpur | Islam 101 12/2/07