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Penang Arrival

Penang. A real city again, with skyscrapers and proper buses and everything. Chris already misses the beach, though we just spent 4 weeks in the sand. We walk around in a daze of smells, alternatingly tantalizing and putrid. Dazed walking is not safe here, though--there's not much room between the agressive cars and scotters and the wide cement trough that serves as a gutter.

It is as hot as ever. All I want to do is eat and sleep.

W came across an outdoor basketball game in progress this evening. Delighted, we sat down to watch as we always do when we find a game, exclaminig, "Malays like basketball, too!" Slowly we began to suspect that the players were actually Filipinos. Laughing, we shrugged. Figures.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Malaysia

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I think you meant to say Malaysians, not Malays.

by ducks

Why do you think that? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malay

by chschen

Insofar as Malay is an ethnic designation, and even Malaysians cannot immediately visually ascertain (or at least not accurately) who is and isn't Malay. Malay-ness has no immediately visually ascertainable characteristics, and far from everyone in Malaysia is Malay. Speaking Bahasa or being Muslim don't make one Malay, and being Malaysian definitely doesn't make one Malay.

by ducks

I take your larger point that what I probably meant at the time was "Malaysian," especially given that I had just come to Malaysia a few days prior to that entry being written. I originally thought you meant to correct me in saying that "Malay" was not a title you could give to a person. Nevertheless, nationality is also not something someone can visually ascertain either, as I am constantly reminded while traveling. In fact, one could say the point of the entry is to highlight the faultiness of these visual assessments.

by chschen

All agreed! Unrelatedly, one dynamic that I enjoy studying in Southeast Asia, and I think most foreign visitors are blind to, is the urban-rural divide. Most of the people serving tourists in restaurants, taxis, and so on are just as foreign to the city as the tourists are.

by ducks

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