Tag Archives: culture

Manila – Same Same but Different

23 May
Traditional Guard - spanish style

Traditional Guard - spanish style

So I arrived in the Philippines (after some struggle with Thai Airways who made me pay my booking fee again, despite the fact I had already paid it). I can’t help but compare the Philippines (Manila) with the other countries I visited recently.

The phrase that comes to mind is ‘Same same, but different’. Indeed, there’s a similar Asian feel about the Philippines, but on the other hand you can clearly see the stamp that the Spanish & Americans left on the country.

Or as my guidebook put it: think of a Philippino as an Asian that spent 300 years in (Spanish, catholic) church and 50 years in Disneyland – very accurate!

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Funny Malaysia Pictures

15 May
Buy your Buddha in the Buddha supermarket

Buy your Buddha in the Buddha supermarket

There’s quite some pictures in my Malaysia posts, but here are a few that I thought were funny, special, weird, different,… (for different reasons – read comments – hehe)

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Life at the beach

13 May
Life's a beach - or was it bitch?

Life's a beach - or was it bitch?

I guess it was one of those moments where I just naturally slowed down after all the back’n’forth between cities and countries; Bali, JogJa, Solo, KL, Singapore, Melaka and Georgetown in less than 2 weeks was a bit too much. So what was planned as 2-3 days at the beach turned out to be a week.

The lovely guesthouse was part of the attraction – and I moved to a bungalow literally ON the beach for the last few days – so I would wake up walk 5 meters and take a refreshing bath in the blue sea. Gorgeous. At night I would fall asleep with the sound of the waves gently penetrating the antique wooden shutters.

So what does one do at the beach? Continue reading

(Gay) Trouble in (Malaysia) Town

12 May
The many flavours of Malaysia

The many flavours of Malaysia

Malaysia prides itself in being a great multi-cultural society in which different communities live peacefully together – and when walking around in KL the mix of different languages, religions and cultures seems to be harmonious. But when talking to different people, not everybody is as tolerant as the government might want to see it.

A Malay friend took me to a curry house, and when I asked if it would be Thai style curry (green, red, in claypot) or Indian style (the spicy stew you scoop on your rice), he was almost offended and said it was Malay curry (so that was my first faux pas). So there are some ethnic sensitivities in Malaysia (sounds like Belgium – hehe). The Chinese don’t like the Malays with their mosques and conservative attitude. And a Malay friend of mine said that the Chinese have poor hygiene and smell. So there seem to be quite some stereotypes around – and at the same time it gave me a chance to explore my own prejudice. Continue reading

Gorgeous Georgetown Picture Post

6 May
George Town clock tower at gorgeous sunset

George Town clock tower at gorgeous sunset

At the same time as Melaka, the coastal town of Georgetown, on Penang Island in the North of Malaysia, also got recognized by Unesco as World Heritage. So many buildings in the historical centre are restored and cleaned up, and maps and guided walks are plentiful.

No Dutch or Portuguese here – only British – which you can clearly see in the names of the streets which are a funny mix of an English name and the word for street, lane or road in Malay (e.g. Lebuh Bishop, Lorong Stewart, Jalan Buckingham, etc). For the rest there are too many temples, mosques and churches to describe, so I’ll just make this a picture post. Continue reading

Melaka – a bit of history

5 May
The Dutch old town with Stadhuys

The Dutch old town with Stadhuys

From Singapore I took the ‘massage bus’ to Melaka, about 3-4 hours drive in vibrating chairs further north. Melaka is a little town that got recognized as Unesco World Heritage only last year (at the same time as George Town on Penang Island), so there’s still lots of renovation and tidying going on, but there’s plenty of nice buildings to see. It’s like a polonaise of different countries, cultures and architectural styles that visited (invaded) this coastal town and trading port: Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British… with a pinch of Sultan influence.

I’m not sure if I was very receptive to take in another city, after a few days running around KL, then Singapore in a nutshell and then another town for just a day. Definitely going too fast, so I’ll slow down soon. So I’ll post pictures instead of writing much. And I ended my day in Melaka with some Chinese mmmmmassage. Continue reading

Funny Singapore Pictures

5 May
Even the toilets are numbered - maniacs

Even the toilets are numbered - maniacs

There’s many pictures in the Singapore Posts because they represent the best what I found there.

But below is a collection of pictures that I thought were particularly funny, amusing, different, wicked,… (read the comments) Continue reading

Chin-gapore, Sir Gapore or Al Singa Pora?

4 May

Even highways look like parks & flower beds

Even highways look like parks & flower beds

Singapore is a bit like walking in a big garden or park, they just have put a few roads through them, and instead of gazebo’s there’s shopping malls and skyscrapers… The first feel and SMELL is definitely Chinese, but that’s probably because I arrived in ChinaTown, but still majority in SG is Chinese. But the most beautiful parts in town are the Colonial Quarter (veeery British) and the Arab area… Kampung Glam is in the top 10 of picturesque areas, I’ve visited so far during my trip. Continue reading

KL shopping paradise

29 Apr
How many square miles of mall one needs???

How many square miles of mall one needs???

So when I asked people, what they would do on their free day in KL (Kuala Lumpur) many of them said they would spend some time in the mall. Hmm – very consumerist I thought, but then they explained that it would be too hot to be outside – so that explains the mall-phenomena in KL I suppose. An outside shopping street would simply not attract any visitors when the sun’s out. And THE shopping streets that are outside (e.g. Chinatown’s Petaling Street or the Little India Bazar) they are covered with roofs or shades to keep the sun out, and every second shop keeper has a fan running in his stall.

Local food, fancy style in the malls: blue rice

Local food, fancy style in the malls: blue rice

So I gave it a try and headed for the newest of the newest malls in Bukit Bintang shopping Mekka. I can’t even remember its name, because taking pictures is forbidden (at least where the guard sees it – so I only took some snaps when the guard wasn’t looking).

Eating is also an easy affair, with on every corner of the street hawker stalls with local specialities – and when I say local I mean: Indian, Malay, Chinese, Arab and some street burgers… Continue reading

Surreal Cinema in Cambodia

2 Apr
The horror movie of the week poster

The horror movie of the week poster

Once you slow down in traveling and move away from the ‘Lonely Planet’ route (or any other guide), then you start doing things that the locals do – or what I use to do back home in Brussels – like going to the cinema.

But if you think Cinema in Cambodia is a ‘normal’ affair (for me at least) then think again! I went to see a Cambodian film with a Khmer friend. Quite an experience – partly because what was happening on the screen, but just as much observing what was going on in the seats around me…

The khmer films can be divided into two main categories – either the cheezy romantic type OR the horror films. We went to see a horror film – me that couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks after watching E.T. Continue reading

Punny Philippines

26 Dec

1707 Pilipino Islands

1707 Pilipino Islands

There’s no F sound in Tagalog, the main Pilipino language (they pronounce F like a P) so that will be pun ;-) And the nickname for the people there are ‘PinoY’ (like the big bird in Sesame street – at least in the Dutch version of it – or is Sesame Street globalised?) – apparently with Y at the end (someone pointed out to me – lol)

  • Any more travel suggestions? – let me know, add it in a comment below!

The guidebook says that “the Philippines have Asian roots, but have spent 300 years in church (Spanish domination) and 50 years in Hollywood (American influence)”.

A Pino friend of mine told me that indeed, you can still notice this mix of influences. The Pilipino core is definitely (South-East) Asian (e.g. rice, harmony, face, hierarchy, family, tan,…) but did get a Spanish coating (e.g. Catholicism, machismo, fiesta, mañana,…) and a little touch of American influence (e.g. freedom of speech, expressing themselves, English, shopping,…).

It’s intriguing to find behind Continue reading

Short Singapore Plans

19 Dec
Singapore city (= country)

Singapore city (= country)

  • Any travel suggestions? Let me know – add them below in the comments!
  • Foreseen travel to Singapore during my Malaysia trip probably March/April

Singapore says my guidebook – is Asia for beginners. You have the authentic Asia style with Eastern values, traditions and ‘face’, but combined with western innovation and efficiency and English is spoken as the main working language. The country is different enough to get a culture shock, but it wouldn’t be shocking much: for people from the East there’s enough familiar Asian elements they can relate to, and for the people from the West, there’s enough Western influence to make you feel at home.

Many nick-names circulate for the city-state Continue reading

Cambodia Plans

6 Nov

Angkor Wat

I started reading about Cambodia to get my head around the country and think a bit what to do there. Here’s my list of longings.

  • Don’t hesitate to log in and add your suggestions & comments ;-)
  • I’ll be in Cambodia from 30 Dec till half January 09

Besides starting 2009 there, I want to travel the country and get a grasp of the culture – the culture with the small ‘c’ (not so much the museums or the arts – but the real people). And religion seems to be a big part of it. And since i am a ‘homo faber’, i also want to DO lots of things, experience, experiment,… with transport, food, gay life, etc. I am ready to be surprised!

Starting 2009 in style

I’ll be in Cambodia for New Year, so the plan is to celebrate – with Cambodians and Internationals. 2009 will be the year of transition and change for me – so its start is reason for celebration!

Cambodian Culture

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