After travelling four weeks through the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia is quiet a cultural change and challenge. The Philippines are a Christian-majority country. More specifically the people, the Filipinos/Filipinas are by majority Christians. Here in Malaysia it is conversely, the majority is Sunni islamic and the chief of state or the so called Yang di-Pertuan Agong gets voted every fifth year by aristocrats. That means that Malaysia is one of very view countries in the world which has a elective monarchy as regime.
The following short summery is originated by Wikipedia – Malaysia and other sources which i used for research. Malaysia offers a lot for travellers, its diversity in landscapes, cultures and businesses made me curious to explore more and so i planed to stay 17 days to discover and learn about the country. The following short summery about Malaysia had not influenced my travels in any way and if this upcoming information is necessary or appropriate is up to each reader. For me it is. Cosmopolitanism is not a one way street ! Immanuel Kant thought us, that the circumstances, in which we are situated, always need to be judged by referenced to the circumstances, in which we could be.
The Malaysian constitution says: it guarantees religious liberty while making Islam the state religion. According to the population and Housing Census 2010 figures, ethnicity and religious beliefs correlate highly. Approximately 61.3% of the population practice Islam, 19.8% practice Buddhism, 9.2% Christianity, 6.3% Hinduism and 1.3% practice Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese Religions. 0.7% declared no religion and the remaining 1.4% practised other religions or did not provide any information. Sunni Islam of Shafi’i school of jurisprudence is the dominant branch of Islam in Malaysia.
On behalf of the Malayan constitution all ethnic Malayan are from birth on automatically Muslims. Which means the are not allowed to get married with somebody who has a different religion ! To drop out if the Islam is almost impossible but for those who desire there is a form, the „Borang Keluar Islam“ to be filled out. After that it needs to be proven (for two years) that it is not possible to convert tis person to the Islam, like in special ‘reeducation’ institutions were ‘drop outs’ will be detained. The last step (would be) that a Sharia tribunal is making a final decision – the so called freedom of religion in the constitution exists just theoretically !
Most of the Malayan are members of the Sunni Islam and the are the ones who claim political leadership since the independence of Malaysia. The also receive preferential treatment in all matters, like government jobs and public services etc. Economical and political wise Malaysia is one of the most stable countries in Southeast Asia in which the convergence from modernity, Islam and capitalism is propagandised. But the economy is despite the liberalisation measures sill highly regulated. The sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional is the strategic arm of the government, those are the ones who invest in all kinds of industries. Business wise ethnic Malayan are preferred versus foreigners or Malayan Chinese people.
Malaysias media is controlled and fare away from independent. A rigid lawful frame is restricting the development, like the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) from 1984. This law manages the print, import, reproduction, publishing and distribution of publications. The Interior Minister hands out on a yearly bases license for print media which he can revoke at any time ! If someone is breaching the conditions the can be fined with up to three years in prison. And only the government owned agency BERNAMA has the exclusive rights to distribute economic data, news pics and all other material in therms of printed media. All other agencies like radio, print and television belong to close related government companies. Opposition media companies do not really exist.
Kuala Lumpur.. i did book my Airbnb – Accommodation months ahead but what i got to see on site really impressed me. Cher How, the owner of the apartment in the complex called “The Face” rents out two small but cosy bedrooms with a shared bathroom. The location to explore KL is great by itself, but what makes this place so awesome and really special is the possibility to use the pool on the 51 st floor. The view to the Petronas – Towers is incredible and the skyline in the evening just amazing. This Aribnb accommodation is defiantly the best i had so fare and the price, $ 33 per night (at that time) is unbeatable.
I just spend 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur wich is defiantly not much but time enough to get myself amazed by strolling around in the city and to organise my jungle trip which attracted me and was my force to move on. In central Malaysia you can find one of the oldest rain forest in the world (most even say it is the oldest rainforest in the world), the so called: Taman Negara National Park
Of course the are many ways to get there but a really good deal you can make with Han – Travel in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur. This 130 million years old rainforest offers an incredible range of trails and hikes, for some you might consider to get a guide, others you just enjoy and explore by yourself. Staying overnight in a tent, going upstream by boat or exploring the jungle from high above ground by walking on the Canopy Walk are just a few possibilities for a great jungle adventure at Taman Negara. How to get there..
Taman Negara by google maps gives you a glimpse on how huge this area is and besides a few local tribes like the Orang Asli settlements, there is nobody. In Kuala Tahan you can find a first class hotel and a few bungalows for backpeckers. At the same location the Sungai Taman river, dark in color (because of the humus-rich soil) flows into the Sungai Tembling. Kuala Tahan is the center or the base for starting your Taman Negara National Park adventure which you can reach via a three hour boat ride (i liked way better then the ride in the minivan) from Kuala Tembling, or via the road by bus, taxi or car from Jerantut.
The canopy walk opens daily from 9 am till 12 am, entrance fee is around 5 MYR (check the opening hours on the spot, the like to change !). If you are there at 9 am or around 11:30 am you have a good chance to have the Canopy Walk for yourself….at least for a few minutes. But all hiking trails, as well as the trail to the Canopy Walk, can be explored at any time. I went there several times a day to use the difference in light for taking photographes and i seldom encountered more then a few people. The signposts are good and easy to find and the have set up some observation decks close to clearing areas in the jungle. Those are good places for spotting wildlife such as monkeys, deer, all kinds of birds, wild pigs etc. Myself i have not spotted so much but i always felt like a discoverer while i was on the hunt with my camera (during the day and at night). But spotting wildlife yourself is always an amazing feeling, especially when you (try) to sneak silently through this reach and dense jungle.
It is a fascinating feeling observing the jungle from above and looking down from the Canopy Walk. The suspension bridges are incredible and a seldom possibility to see the jungle from such a perspective. This airy feeling fascinated me already with my first step. Lush green, filled with jungle sounds and all kinds of different distraction await you on this Canopy Walk while the awareness is focused on the present moment. I felt like being part of the jungle and it is a wonderful moving experience to feel the own roots connected to nature. All is one and everything is connected, i just love this feeling !
Emotional bound to this feelings it made it difficult for me to move on but i just had seventeen days to discover parts of Malaysia and i already had my next destination in mind. Penang
The federal state of Penang lays on the west coast of the Malayan peninsular, the so called Strait of Malacca . My focus was Georgetown and that is the place where my next story will start. Georgetown is hosting some fascinating interactive Street Art from Ernest ‘ZACH’ Zacharevic . So my next blog is dedicated to Ernest Zacharevic and other artist who where invited by the municipal council in 2012 to express themselves under the motto “Mirrors of Georgetown”. Besides that the blog shows you Georgetown today and i take you with me, guide you through this world of Street Art and its diversity. Here is the first glimpse for you…
Kuala Lumpur, March 2017