We shall get to all that title nonsense later, but for now a bit of, as PG Wodehouse might say, F-ing in the B (Not what some of you weirdos might think).
What did happen in Malaysia?
|An unfriendly suggestion|
We had time to burn that afternoon, so we went up the Langkawi air-tram. Going up was kind of scary as it was a bit windy, and Yvonne was reduced to making little grunty noises of fear, while I pretended to not be on the verge of huddling in a fetal ball and whimpering my way to the top. But we made it, and the views were certainly worth it. The tram stops at the first peak, where you can get off for one set of views, then makes about a 30 degree swing to the left, over one last appalling precipice, and then you reach the top, top.^^
Going down the tram was much easier as you were basically looking off to the far horizon, and not down and into the pancake-like death that awaited in the ravines below the cable.
|A breakfast of some kind|
Then back to the village, a bit of dinner, and 4 channels of really bad TV.
The next day we headed into Pentai Cenang to meet with a friend who was in Langkawi, coincidentally, “seeing a man about a thing,” a description that was intentionally vague enough that we didn’t really ask any questions. We searched for a bookstore, but one was closed for vacation, and the other was inexplicably closed. So, it was off to the stunning (by which I mean the heat stunned us insensible) beach, which gave awesome views of blue water, boats, islands, and bikini clad babes, whom Yvonne ogled with shocking lack of concern for getting caught at it.^^
The next day we headed up the 7 Wells Waterfall. We left relatively early to avoid the heat. Oddly, no one else seemed to have thought of this strategy, and we were basically alone on the trail. We got to the top (a bit over 500 stairs at the last bit), and wandered around taking pictures. On the way up we’d spotted a couple of the bigger, brown monkeys on the island, who were swinging through the trees. Then down to the bottom of the falls (conveniently about halfway down the stairs), which presented a much nicer photo op. On the way down we ran into a guy with three older women, who were laboring at about step 100. He asked us about the path, and we recommended they just go to the bottom of the falls, since the view from the top was a lesser version of the view from the top of the tram and neither, really was worth the myocardial infarctions his team of angels would suffer, nor the bad back he would get dragging their corpses down the stairs.
Yvonne wanted to go to “Book Village” (her addiction, again), which was on the map, but a closer scrutiny of reality (by me, of course) showed that it had been out of business for at least two years. Yvonne is Republican in the sense that she does not believe reality should impinge on what she wants, so it took about 45 minutes of…er… discussion(?) before I could persuade her that it would be a waste of time to head off across the island to see something that no longer existed.
|Babylon on the beach|
Eventually we all re-convened at Bablyon, drinking and chatting. About halfway into it, we saw a bizarre apparition. Three people came from the road. Two were women, in shirts with sleeves that ran to their wrists, pants that ran fully to ankles, scarves, hats, and two enormous parasols. These two were followed by a similarly dressed man, absent the umbrella, who never once turned away from his video camera, as he filmed the women’s procession towards the beach. Yvonne, Mike, and I, all looked at each other an in unison mouthed, “Koreans!”
As they passed, I asked them in Korean if they were Koreans, and the man just nodded, then grimly returned to his filming. They marched out onto the beach, promenaded this way and that, and then grimly filed back to the main road, never to be seen by us again.
The next day we hung out at beaches, fed more monkeys, stopped for a roadside drink, then headed to the airport. A quick flight to KCCT, a bus to KL Sentral, a slight wait there, and then the Malaysian Prof who had invited me to speak picked us up and took us to our hotel.
All that joy was amplified the next morning when Yvonne rose from her slumber, more like Mars the God of War than Aurora the Goddess of Dawn, and announced that she had lost her passport.
Not just her passport, of course, but every form of identification she had.
All in one purse.
All in a foreign land.
This was, as we Koreans say, a wicket with a bit of tar on it (we normally say this while at templestays). Massive search revealed nothing, so we developed a plan, which Yvonne forgot every 15 minutes.
Our driver arrived and HURRAH! the lost passport had been lost in the car the night before. So we were, for the moment, good.
The presentation went very well. It started about 15 minutes late, so I had to hurry a little bit at the end, but that’s good, because it means I have room to cut and sharpen before I do the version of it in Seoul. Yvonne said the history part was a bit dry and dull, so that will need to be spruced up. The room in which I did the presentation was cold, like icy cold, and I was glad to be the person up on stage, because it meant I could pace around to stay warm. I was well received, although a Buddhist professor did have some questions about my analysis of how Buddhism affected Korean han. This will be a good thing overall, as that is one of the weak points of my argument, and this taking it on the road thing is intended to discover the weak points…
And with that, presentation moderately successful, I leave the rest to the next post.