We have been staying with a delightful and welcoming family in Taiping for the last couple of days. Hiking and touring the town and its surroundings with our host as guide including a fascinating tour round a charcoal factory yesterday which is owned and operated by a friend of our hosts.
We're starting to see beneath the surface veneer of the country now. The illicit trade in wild animals is rampant and the gangs that operate the underground quite open and obvious once you tune into the social atmosphere.
I'm not sure how much further I wish to dig. Understanding the politics of this developing country is a veritable mine field and the economics even more so. Supplementing incomes with "sidelines" is the norm it appears, either by (legally) diversifying or black marketing and along with the exploitation of the Malaysian fauna I have already witnessed child labour, female workers in some pretty tough conditions and vice on a scale I've not seen anywhere outside of Amsterdam's real light district. There are a significant proportion of Malay residents (it seems) hell bent on the destruction of their own country and the call for quick cash is all too tempting for common sense to prevail. I'm sure in the most part it is not malicious, but more a lack of sense of "tomorrow" and of course a lack in education of consequences, but it is sad to see in such a beautiful and diverse land.
The law of the jungle remains true in Malaysia, but it is still the physical strength and the willingness to exclude empathy from actions that seems to be gaining the upper hand, rather than the mental strength, without the prejudices of gender or religion that the western cultures are slowly moving towards. The question I am left with is; will the collective populous have the opportunity to wake up and take notice of the damage they are doing to their homeland before it's too late to do anything about it?
It has been both an enlightening and reflective time over the last few weeks. If you wish you may follow our blog at: