Malaysia and Singapore
Unfortunately, this report is lost because I spilled a soft-drink over my keyboard. I had to remove all batteries very quickly, losing all data that didn't make it to the back-up...
Instead, a short piece of text from an email I sent to someone asking what I thought of Malaysia and Singapore:
The stories about Malaysia and Singapore have been lost, but not the daily distance log; I remember the travel days where I was. The story can be rewritten, and it has to be done, one day. Because in the end I would like to make a book-on-CD, with all the pictures and so on, and with possibilities to navigate through the topics that belong together (all the nagging about motorcycles together, all the border crossings, all the food, or just the best anecdotes).
The problem is that my writing style has changed a lot during the journey: from past tense at the beginning to present tense in first person from midway to the end. So quite a lot needs to be done. And sort a thousand or more photos ramdomly put together on CD by Kodak ...
Malaysia was a refuge after the situation in Thailand. The first days in a luxury hotel on Penang, then slowly driving to Kota Bahru, then the Perenthian Islands. Scuba dived deliciously, just my head clear again. I learnt to eat with my hands (decently). Then to Taman Negara, where the motorcycle frame broke along the way. Briefly looked around in the park and on a broken frame to KL: Shah Alam.
At the BMW importer, the motorcycle was disassembled completely, the rear frame has been replaced and they have opened and refitted the gearbox without using the right tools. All while I was scuba diving on Tioman (by plane) with girlfriend Carloyn. I was grounded for a whole month, eventually, thanks to that twisted motorcycle. A quick look at Cameron and Frazer Hill and then on to Singapore to ship the bike to Darwin.
Singapore is all very Western - not what I was looking for. I found the anti-congestion toll system on the roads laughable. As a foreigner it is not possible to see whether or not you can drive under any gate at a certain time of the day. Eventually we viewed Singapore on foot and by train (so they work anyway, those measures) and saw a lot of shiny buildings and many shops. I flew to Amsterdam by plane to and two weeks later from Amsterdam to Darwin. (Visited my mother, cancer patient.)
But that's no answer to your question: I have experienced Malaysia as a lazy country. Get good food everywhere, good roads (with fences around highways), shelter is no problem and ridiculously reduced prices. From the start I treated myself to a week in a five-star hotel in Shah Alam (waiting for the motorcycle repair) for (converted) fl. 80.00 per night (which was about USD 40.00).
Development also has its disadvantages: many things are "taken care of". Many rules, regulations, directives ... It was a lot less adventurous.
I have also been amazed over the ethnic structure of Malaysia. The Indians could have arrived from Mumbai yesterday. Even the way they shake their heads when they mean "yes" is one-on-one the same as in India. The Chinese are the reliable, hard workers we see everywhere and the Malays are protected by Dr. M. himself - why should they bother?
All in all, I enjoyed reading the local newspapers: because of Japanese encephalitus they butchered thousands of pigs, Mr. Mahatir who was everywhere and the sometimes difficult co-existance of the three ethnic groups. It is to be hoped for Malaysia that Mahatir does not very suddenly come to the end of his somewhat totalitarian regime, for I foresee the same difficulties as in Indonesia.
And then I haven't mentioned the new capital, the information superhighway corridor and the airport and adjacent race track they are building. Incredible projects for this country. And when I got back, I learned what our longest-reigning prime minister in the world is doing with his crown prince Anwar Ibrahim. Unbelievable.