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Merry Christmas - The unseasonal Malaysian season

Just to continue in my reflections on life in Malaysia, I was struck yesterday by how few people were in the supermarket – in Europe the shops on Christmas Eve afternoon are a nightmare, with hordes of feverish shoppers desperately buying the last necessaries for food and presents. In Giant yesterday there were in fact less people than usual, and less aisles open too; at the pasar malam, there were less people too, as well as less stalls.

I’m feeling distinctly un-Christmassy this year; we didn’t even put up decorations – been busy with other things and so on. Christmas always takes me a bit by surprise a bit here; in Europe there is always a long build up – the lights start appearing in the streets, peoples’ decorations peek out from their windows and adorn their doors


at the office decorations drape the filing cabinets and you start wishing people ‘Merry Christmas’ when you calculate that it’s the last time you’re seeing them before the date, an office party is organised, and a few lucky people tell you of their skiing plans or trips to the sun. In the bars, you can get special warming Christmas Ale, a good excuse for a tipple. At school, you may already have had Santa visit, and accumulated a few presents already.


The season prepares you for it too – the days have been getting darker and the home cosier; you know it’s winter and winter means Christmas, you start to wonder whether there will be snow…


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Kuching shop signs

I finally did my presentation, and I’m now officially on holiday! Aaaaahhhh feels good :-D

After paying for the rooms at the Bako National Park, I wandered back to the hotel through some of the old streets of Kuching – it’s a charming place, with old shophouses still thriving (apparently anyway).

Here are some photos of shop signs – they show the old and new overlapping, and the different languages and scripts reflect the pluralistic foundations of Sarawak.

Malay, Chinese and Jawi


Malay, Chinese and English


The blinds are used to shade from the sun, and as decorative space


...and the ever-present, real thing

l33t sp34k

Leet is a coded form of writing developed in the 80’s and used (initially at least) by hackers and the ‘elite’ of the networked world.

1t (4n g3t pr3tt¥ (0mp£1(4t3Ð, but for the uninitiated (like me), you can you go here

It’s a leet translator that does leet at various degrees of ‘leetness’

1t’s 4 l33t tr4nsl4t0r th4t d03s l33t 4t v4r10us d3gr33s 0f ‘l33tn3ss’

1t’$ 4 £33t tr4n$£4t0r th4t Ð03$ £33t 4t v4r10µ$ Ð3gr33$ 0f ‘£33tn3$$’

17’$ 4 £337 7r4n$£470r 7h47 Ð03$ £337 47 v4r10µ$ Ð39r33$ 0ƒ ‘£337n3$$’

17’$ 4 £337 7r4||$£470r 7|-|47 Ð03$ £337 47 \/4r10µ$ Ð39r33$ 0ƒ ‘£337||3$$’

17’$ 4 £337 7®4||$£470® 7|-|47 Ð03$ £337 47 \/4®10µ$ Ð39®33$ 0ƒ ‘£337||3$$’

Found out about it thanks to 3POINT8.

There’s also another one here, which translates both ways.

A gentleman's honour

Well the news here in Malaysia is quite exciting - Penang has gone to the opposition, Samy Velu is out...

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, there's a short piece on BBC about a sailor who was on a ship that was sunk by the Germans in 1940. He was pulled out of the water and
They were taken to Narvik and transferred to a German ship where they signed an agreement promising that when they returned to Britain they would not fight the Germans.

"We had to sign a declaration saying we wouldn't take up arms against them.

"That really upset me because of course I wanted to go back."

Imagine! "Ve haff blown a hole in your Englander pig-dog ship and vish ve killed you. But since you made it out, pliss sign this and promiss you von't try to shoot us again. Heil Hitler!"

Then, they let him go! And when he managed to get back to England from Norway
Unable to return to the navy - because of his declaration not to fight the Germans - he joined Ford where he worked as an engineer checking aeroplane engines.

Two things amaze me here:
1. He actually stuck to his word. I wouldn't fell bound by it.
2. He was allowed to stand by it at a time when there was a universal draft.

Was that the true 'British spirit'? Or perhaps he was not judged suitable for other reasons...
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