Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How moral are you?

31/3/10

I remembered I score A for my moral subject in SPM, but there are so many moral questions (initially I wrote 'dilemma') which interest (initially i wrote 'confuse') me nowadays..

As usual, the first question is: do you think those who skip paying entrance fee is amoral? (I have to start with it because after such a long time I still cannot understand those who condemned me, sorry if it bored you)
-- yes because the money they charge will be use to preserve the site

What if you are paying >10 times of the price of the local is paying for a tourist site?
-- i shall pay because the site belongs the them, i am a visitor thus i need to pay
-- usually the local is poorer and I can afford the site at the price
-- moreover, a part of their tax might be used to preserve the site

Don't you think that the historical heritage is inherited by OUR ancestor to US instead of to the particular nationality?
-- yes but now they are the one who own it

So what about the sites which get funding from UNESCO or some other countries? Shall they then have a 'discount' for the nationality that helped out the excavation or funding?

And so if the site belongs to the nationality as in how we draw our border today, why the whole world is so angry while the Taliban destroying the Bamiyan Buddha statues, after all they are the one who own it?

The ticket is usually per entrance, what if you like the site so much and wanted to visit it for the second or third time during your stay in the city, will you try to show the torn ticket used yesterday hoping to get in for free or you will silently pay everytime when you go?

Okie put that aside, what do you think about this case: you are charge the same as the local, but the site is overcharged?
-- first, what is overcharged?
-- then I shall just don't go

What do you think if the site is a nature scenery, but the government starts to build wall or fence to cover up just to get you pay for it? For example the site can be a sand dune, a beach, a cliff, a glimpse of mountain peak, a turn of the river? Don't you think we have the right, as a human being to enjoy the pleasure nature given us?
-- either you pay or you don't go, what to do?

What if you are the local, the site is in your country and you need to pay a huge amount of money in order to visit a place which is preserved by your country and you have a part of tax already allocated to the preservation project? You objected but your objection goes no way, you still think skipping paying is amoral?

Well I don't mean that skipping ticket means you need to climb wall or destroy something. If you just happened to walk pass the back door and saw that the door is opened, will you walk in or still go to the front door and pay for the ticket (be the ticket costs USD1 or USD60)?

What if someone went in the site yesterday and the ticket collector did not collect his ticket, he wanted to give the unused ticket to you, will you accept? If you do, are you considered yourself amoral? If you say it depends on how much is the site costs, does that mean that your moral can be bought over by a certain value?

Okie put that aside, what do you think about a tourist site that overcharges tourist for the essential thing a human being needs like bread and water?
-- you pay more in the site or near the site for the convenience you get

What if the every single shop in town charges you double the price of a local? Of course they will charge you double times double at the site itself, but I am talking about the shop that located in the town, but far enough from the site. They overcharge you because they think you have the money that's why you are traveling or worse they know you have to pay for it because it is water and bread, will you still keep quite and pay?

What do you think if you are overcharged by the taxi driver? Do you mind if the local pay less because they speak the language and can communicate with the driver or because the local earn lesser than you? So do you mind if you get charged more than the guy who is sitting beside you in a plane just because he earns less than you?

What do you think if you are forced to sit in first class train and pay the first class price because you are a foreigner, and the train may or may not have the first class service?

Okie put that aside, what do you think about fake student card? You still pay for the site, just at a lower rate and you are not against the law
-- i don't cheat, if I am not a student, I am not a student

What do you think about people who don't even have a fake student card and get a student price because they can speak the local language because they happened to took the language subject during their college? Are they more deserve to have a good price or even free entrance than those who don't know the language?

Okie put that aside, what do you think about a person who goes into the grocery shop to buy 10 items and come out with these 10 items plus a hand full of unpaid sunflower seeds, do you think he is stealing?
-- well it can be stealing
-- but if he didn't take that, the shop owner might have also accidentally poured the same amount of seeds on the floor and wasted it

How would you respond if you are in a supermarket/ hypermarket, have 10 items in the basket, the cashier miss-scanned one, will you keep quiet or remind her?

How would you respond if you are in a supermarket/ hypermarket, and the cashier accidentally give too much change than she supposed to, will you keep quiet or remind her?

Now how would you respond if you are in a small grocery shop instead of a hypermarket, will you keep quiet or remind the cashier if she miss-scanned one item?

Okie put that aside, you believe in free spirit and whatsoever, you are a female, now you are traveling in a conservative countries like middle east where the female is veiled and do not talk to a foreign man, but you find the local man exotic and wild, would you make the initiative to flirt with them and sleep with them? Will the answer be different if you have husband/boy friend, who is traveling/ not traveling together with you? Put yourself in different gender, will you accept your girlfriend or wife doing so because of her free spirit and open to world?

You believe in free spirit and whatsoever, you are a male, now you are traveling in a conservative eastern country where normal proper girl won't accept flirtation or have sex before they get married, will you try so hard to convince them and change their value?

Do you have a religion? What do you think about those who try to break down the belief of others, not to preach but just because they think religion limited the freedom of one?

What do you think about those who are wealthy enough to own property in the foreign land and have some young local boy/ girl as their sexual partner by paying them? You think the amoral one is the boy/ girl or their family, the one who is wealthy or the money? Or you think it is how the world works and nothing wrong with it?

---------------------------------------------------------------

As my teacher back in school used to tell me, I am a problematic girl (wen4 ti2 shao4 nv3), today I felt it deeply and wanted to apologize to them. ;)

Wrote until the end, I can almost assured that those who see skipping ticket is unaccepted may think a handful of unpaid seed is nothing wrong and sleeping with a married local man who an affair is not their culture (culture is the main point, I don't have question about a French woman pick an Italian boy/man back to her apartment etc., I am talking more about the influence/ impact) is nothing wrong as well. Skipping ticket can be dishonest, but ask your mother to lie in the phone that you are not at home is nothing to do with honesty? It is interesting to see how human being from different culture and background perceive thing differently. It reminds me a friend of mine who is from the Middle East told me: a joke like "you are a liar!!" will ruin the friendship because everyone is a liar, it is not a joke, but no one see it as a lie.

Talking more about skipping ticket, not because I want to find excuse for myself, who don't see the reason of paying a high price for this historical heritage left by my own ancestor, but to tell you that our society has already well-trained us to be so obedient, that one doesn't even thought of going through the back door, that cloud be just 100 meters from the main entrance. How can we want to "think out of the box", assume that there is no constraints; while in reality we have so much constraints embedded inside us through our education and society, we don't even know. Let say you are a free person, in the first place, how can you assume that you need to pay for a site? How you assume the way to the ticket booth? And believe me or not, so far the places I went, half of the time there is a side door opened, the authority assumed that everyone is well-trained by the society and no one will thinks of going around instead of walking straight to pay.

Does my act harm anyone? Yes it harms tourism for sure. Assume a huge bunch of people is doing that, you will probably see a different in money. To me, miss-scanned of an item in supermarket is absolutely okie to stay quiet but not in a grocery stall; as well as extra change from a cashier is not okie because she probably need to pay back at the end of her shift. I assumed the supermarket disposes many expired food and rotten vegetables, fruits everyday and the grocery store makes smaller profit thus I shall not take advantage. To some, all the scenarios above are okie to stay quiet because it is the carelessness of the cashier.

While the questions towards the end move from money to value, how you weigh the harm caused by one act, if the act changes the value of the society? How you see the way the world 'educate' the conservative society to be opened and free. While the men in the conservative countries became more "free and open to the world", they cover their wife or their daughter more tightly; while the men want to fuck every woman on the street, they want their wife to be a virgin. It again reminds me on a friend in Iran, who he loves children but not going to have one himself. "I don't want my child to tell the teacher "we are Muslim" because he has to say so, and yet at home we drink and dance and never do whatever a Muslim shall do, I don't want my child to have to wear a mask in his life, I don't want a child that grows up as a liar."

Okie I have to go because I have spent too long time writing the post and it is almost 3pm in the afternoon! To wrap up, I guess scoring A or B or C or fail in the moral subject doesn't make you a more wise person to know how to react during one situation, so we should ask our Ministry of Education (who I don't know who he is) to remove this 'a waste of time' subject from the class. It again reminds me on when I was a temporary teacher, once I was the Moral teacher and what I did is just copied the fill in the blank questions on the blackboard for the student to copy, now I wonder, how can a human being teaches moral? So ridiculous.

I guessed the real moral is the consciousness in your heart that you let it shows up, you can feel bad for one thing but not the other, depends on your values of course, and depends on how much you cover up to yourself. Well I admit that I have judged that there is less harm by cheating on money that cheating on relationship, and less harm harming a big company than a small grocery shop, I know I should not judge, excuse me for just another human being.

If you read until the end, wahaha damn it YOU HAVE DONE IT!! It is so long. I really try to make the questions sound neutral in the first part, if you have time, think for yourself. And if you have read until here, just to tell you that most probably there wont be any posting for the next 2 weeks as my mother is coming tomorrow and we will spend sometime together in the upper Nile.

Got to go now full bladder!! Take care.

p/s: read an posting in Thorn Tree about the responsible traveler, an interesting one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie day

28/03/10

Perhaps I shall invite you over for dinner when I go back home. Today, I cooked the Malaysian assorted vegetables again. It burned a bit while I was talking with Susannah but still, the taste turned out perfect. We ate it with pasta and mango juice.

Had been a lazy day. Having some itches on the body and thought it is bugs, went to the pharmacy and he told me it is caused by drinking unclean water or eating unclean food. The last time someone told me the same, I was in China, that was the first time I knew that unclean water or food can cause itchyness throughout the body.

Bought the soothing lotion, bought lots of vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, onions, garlics,) and oranges. Strawberries here are crazily cheap, a kilo for 3 Egyptian pounds (RM2.1).

Watched an Italian movie, I cant remember the title it was too long for me, something translated to 'a whole life ahead', talking about how bizarre this world can be; later at night watched Harald and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Totally insane. Watched Precious yesterday noon and Cuckoo yesterday night. I dont like the story of Precious, perhaps it will be more interesting if the main character is white rather than black. Cuckoo is nice though.

Tomorrow will be whole day movie also, I think. May be I will cook again. The friend that I am now staying with is a canadian, her name is Chantal, she laughs like a bell. Oh yea that Friday we hanged out with her friend, a Somali. A smart guy with a sad story. They don't feel sad though, they are in it. He was telling us someone asked him what is the feeling of being a refugee. He said haha he had been here for so long that he had forgotten himself a refugee. That day we drank plenty of Somali tea, and we had Somali dinner. It happened in a neighborhood in Cairo where people cae from same places usually stay in a community, I like to hang out in this kind of places.

I have a feeling I wanted to visit Somali also. But there is no government and civil war everywhere. No government? I asked. Yes no government.

The guy surprisingly know a lot about Malaysia and the unfairness between different races in Malaysia. May be I shall not surprised at all, I shall surprise that I know nothing about the world and know nothing about how unfair it is. So do you really feel Malaysian? he asked. I don't remember that I answer him directly, but I was sad that this is the problem and it spread around the world. Chinese always think that ugly household shouldn't spread out of your doorstep, did I try to escape it when I was back home?

Was thinking of traveling a bit after the weekend, but didn't really 'moving' at all. We played Domino last night. It was the first time I learn Domino and of course, I bet Chantal! She is a persistent, dedicated and discipline person that I have ever seen. And she eats a lot, but she is not fat. I moved in her house on Thursday night. That night was her friend's birthday, he invited her for a drink. We went together to this place called Greek Club, apparently an expensive fine dining place with someone playing piano and violin. I drank uzo (i hope i spelled correctly), it is something like raki. I don't really enjoy this kind of occasion very much as people always talking empty subject to pass time, you repeat the same answer again and again, you knew no one care, but the best thing is I had 3 really good chocolates during that night.

Seriously after the fail attempt in Israel embassy I was thinking of trying the same thing at Taba, border of Egypt-Israel if someone can provide me at least a sample of letter or permission from Malaysian government, since so many people said if you are not a muslim you are allowed to visit or for pilgrimage reason you can visit etc etc, if one can show me the example of the letter/permit I will have chance in making things out. Posted some questions in the forums again after the visit to the embassy and get all the answer asking me to check with the Israel embassy or telling me Israel has no problem letting me in or trying to tell me I will have problem when I try to get back home. Hey man I think posting question in a forum is a tiring thing as people always answer in a general way assuming that you never think of any logical solution to your question.

But anyway, I will forget about that now. I mean I will forget about going to Israel, actually it is not that hard to forget.

Okie it is late, slept late these few days because too much girl chatting.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

给你的信

亲爱的127,

因为把书都给了别人,夜里没事做,又不想写日记,于是给你写起信来。中文其实已忘得七七八八,连博客都用英文来写了,实在懒得字字斟酌,请原谅我的错字连篇。提笔,已经是难得的事。

距离家已超过一年,不停移动已经有整二十个月,听起来像是一回事,其实对于移动的那个人,也只是另一种生活方式而已,没什么了不起。埃及,已经是旅程的末端,接下来一年时间,会在印度半岛度过,然后,回家。

决定回家时意料之外的事,原想该会南下非洲或北上东欧,怎料中东之行让人精疲力尽,衰竭的不是肉体,衰竭的事思想。

西方文化侵蚀东方价值,中东尤其严重。如果你读我的博客,大概你知道我指的是什么。这种对人的失望和厌倦,耗尽我所有精力。更甚的事,你会惊叹于这种邪恶的吸引力和感染力,努力不让自己同流合污,心中的定力和定位需要非常强,我恐怕自己的一部分已经放弃挣扎。再不停下来,我无法想象自己到家的那一天会成为怎么样的一个人。

几个礼拜前,有一天我在客栈醒来,觉得我厌恶游走,像当天厌恶上班一样,那么受罪。

有个朋友来函,说能够‘看见’发生在周遭的事,表示你还拥有‘角度’,而能够拥有角度已经比其他人还高一等级。我常想,也许没有角度的人会过得自在一些,同流合污而不自觉,不挣扎,不痛苦,那听起来象一件好事。

因为把书都给了别人,很多时间闲着。我把《爱因斯坦的梦》前几篇打印出来,反复的读。又将它们录到mp3里,反复的听。

妈妈四月一日将到开罗来,我们会一起走一段。对于我是个挑战,我想对于他也是。她会来,我想理由并不是她多么想到埃及旅游,而是我离家太久。

回去之后能干什么,自己也不知道。也许会当临教,心中一点底都没有。搞搞活动。

尽量少和当地人接触,除了客栈活计,吃饭,问路。多聊几句,迂腐的内容又浮上台面,片面的回教徒,破碎的家庭,肉体的享受,金钱的诱惑,自由和当下的追逐。我看见自己东方儒家的道德束缚,像想也许自己也是伪君子假小人。我知道自己同他们一点差别都没有,可为什么没有他们的麻木和盲目。

为了躲避这些,我住在大城市,住在开罗。这里,谁也不认识谁。城市是乌烟瘴气,气鸣声几乎24小时在响。我住在开罗做热闹的那个交通圈,看人来人往,看霓虹灯点亮,看太阳的余晖燃遍天际落到哪一边。我到网吧上网,到小卖部买矿泉水,我们不聊天。我觉得现在的我比较喜欢那样。

今天从siwa绿洲回到开罗,有松了一口气的感觉,绿洲里几家餐馆,几家客栈,几辆拉游客的驴车。你在这儿撒了个谎,在那儿就被拆穿。在路上说谎是便饭,偶尔佯称已婚,偶尔佯称穆斯林,但在小地方,说谎也没安全感。

夜了,再聊。

月潭 24/03/10 1058pm

p/s:为了省邮票,给你的信贴到了网上。

Friday, March 26, 2010

Way back

25/03/2010

I think the trail to me is almost there..

Israel Embassy refused to issue me a visa because the page on my passport saying 'not valid for ISRAEL'. Called Indian Embassy in Cairo, they wanted a booking air ticket, a letter from my embassy, I found it too troublesome for me. Checked the price for ticket to Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Kathmandu(Nepal). The flight from Sri Lanka to India will be somewhat between 300USD (crazy for such a short distance!), so Sri Lanka is out although Malaysian don't need visa. We need visa for Bangladesh, but can get visa on arrival for Nepal. Flight to Kathmandu from Alexandria will cost me somehwhere around 250USD, and perhaps a visa can be arranged from Nepal to India, then from India to Bangladesh. And just found that there is a flight from Dhaka to KL! Worse case if I have ran out of visa page, will be traveling from India to KL.

Hopefully there wont be any problem to get an Indian visa in Nepal, despite all the visas I have in my passport are Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Jordan etc. It is crazy that I have so much trouble having these visas in my passport, time to get a new one. An unrest part of world, only a game of the politicians, power, money.

No not religion. Forget that!

Well just some update on my visit to the Israel Embassy. They had so many security checks, finally I ended up in front of the small door of the embassy. I sit on the bench to wait for the instruction. After sometime, someone called me from the intercomm and asked my name and nationality. After 5 minutes or more, the voice inside asked me if I have carried with me a weapon or something looked like a weapon. I felt ridiculous and say 'no' (I actually find it funny!). Then he asked, if my embassy have given me any weapon. Wahaha.

Sometimes how people think and the logic they have is really unbelievable. I wanted to tell them I have a scarf, may be I can use it to kill the consular, or I have a lighter, may be I will burn the embassy down, and I have a bottle of water, it could be some transparent poisonous liquid. But I said none of it, I think I better dont get myself into trouble.

After 5 minutes or more, the voice again from the intercomm, asked me what is inside my bag and tell me to show it under the CCTV. Well I opened my bag, this is jacket, this is water, these are dates, these are sweets, this is my notebook, this is a brochure about traveling in Egypt.. okie okie, he said through the intercomm.

I sat and sat until the door opened.

They made me go through the magnetic security door, perhaps 10 times of so. I don't know whats wrong.. are they making fun of me. The door sounds everytime I passed through, so sensitive. And they asked me to take off my shoes. Shoes?! Wahaha, may be I have something sharp in my durable Hi-tech shoes. I have wore it over 7 years (it's amazing'), and there are plenty of stiches on it. I planned to throw the shoes after Egypt, unless I am visiting Nepal of course (now seems like I will keep the shoes until after Nepal). They have me walked passed the dorr a few times again without the shoes. And yes, they scanned my shoes again and again. I saw the image of my shoes in the screen when I left the office.

I wasn't allowed to carry anything other than my passport and money to the consulate, it is a floor above the security check. An Egyptian guy talked to me 'what do you want.', this is the people we called 'ah-took' in hokkien, who doesn't have power but act like he is someone. We have plenty of them everywhere, I know them through their forehead. He was so arrogant, asked me why don't I get the visa in Malaysia, not even know there is no diplomatic connection between the two countries. He told me what to bring if I can get the visa, a plane ticket to Israel, a hotel reservation lasting for the stay in Israel, 115 Egyptian pount, 2 photos, 3 months bank statements.

After somemore wait, I saw the consular. We were separated by a good piece of glass. He show me the hand, I asked him if he needed my passport or he actually wanted to shake my hand. It was funny, but he seems to be a good guy. He flipped my passport and asked about Iran, 'Where have you been in Iran?'. I told him Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Yazd etc. 'Did you enjoy it?', he asked. Yes very much, Iranians are awesome. I bet he heard too much about Iran and wanted to go so much, he had no chance because he is an Israeli. Why is it the quarrel between the politician has to do with the layman like me and you.

While he was flipping the second time, he saw the page in my passport indicating the passport is not valid for ISRAEL, and said, 'this is the answer'. Urghh no other way?? I begged, I have come all the way to Egypt and Israel is so near to me, it has been 20 months and on my way back, it is a pity if I don't see the holy city. I wanted to issue you the visa, but your government doesn't let you come. I think he knew it before, he asked me to come, so that he can flip my passport and show me the page!

On the way back, I think may be I will convert to Singaporean one day when I came back to this piece of land, but I think I won't come back to this piece of land.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A float

They asked so many questions before letting me in. The location of the embassy is weird, it is in an old building, 17th floor. And it was closed when I arrived, even the security doesn't know they are closed? Weird.

On the way back to the city centre, I was asking about the direction to Tahrir Sq., A lady stopped by and lead the way. She ended up treating me KFC and tell me all the secrets she has. She is a divorced lady, with no kid, no friend. I appeared like a gift from GOD, she hanged on me, grabbed so hard won't want to let go.

I have you now, she said. She wanted me to call her everyday when I wake up, and when I am going to sleep. She said she loves me too much, and of course, she said I am beautiful. She showed me the place she spends all her time when she fell sad, I thought it should be the corniche or a garden, but it is a Mc. Donalds.

She speaks okie english, but her enthusiastic make me scared a bit, I am worry when someone is too good to me. She said she will cook Egyptian food for me at her house. She wears her hejab loosely, did not wear make up, she wear sport shoes, and she loves her boss. She said everyone loves her body because she is married, but no one will marry her because she is 38 and she is divorced. She said she is the one who initiate it.

Today is her rest day, and so coincident I asked her for direction, so we ended up spending half a day together. She asked me not to switch off my phone, I switched it off most of the time, my phone is only for my mother to call. And I am her only friend now. This too make me nervous a bit, I should have insist in paying the KFC.

You don't need to tell me, I know am not a good person, I always know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Siwa Oasis

It took me 8 hours to get to SIwa, but I only stayed 2 nights. It was not an easy feeling for me to stay in a place which tourism is the main income. I felt watched all time, it can be over reacted, but I wasn't comfortable.

Heard about the homosexual phenomena in Siwa, well the guys are not gay, it is their special habit. They sleep with young boy even they have a family, an outsider who lived in Siwa for 7 years told me, Siwan men sleep with everything.

It was during the president's wife visiting in Siwa, that a Siwan woman told her that her husband loves the female donkey more than her. Since then the president's wife ordered that there shouldn't be any female donkey in this village, causing all the donkeys to be unhealthy, they fight between each other very often to release their desire.

A Greek guy gave me a lift to the salt lake during the evening, I walked a few kms for the sunset. I wanted to leave before sunset so that I wont be walking in the dark, the Greek's donkey driver who is a young boy told me he can dropped me on the way. Waited till the sunset and the Greek asked another American to give me a lift. I thought it is because his donkey goes too slow with my weight, but the next day someone told me the Greek is a gay, he doesn't want to give me a lift back because he wanted to fuck the boy in the field or the garden somewhere on the road back.

Of course, too many European women have their house there. Old European women. They pay the Siwan to sleep with them, it is a paradise to them. Arab man. In fact the Siwan are not really Arab, they Spoke Barber and came from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco long time ago.. well they can be Arab also. I actually don't know.

The oasis is undeniably beautiful, I wanted to walk to the sand dune after the salt lake, but I didn't do that. The town is small, everyone know everyone, I don't like the feeling when I tell someone I am a Malaysian, and people started to call 'Hey Malaysian' on the road and I cannot recognise if I saw him in the bus station or in the market, it makes me feel insecure.

The sand dunes after the salt lake is the start of Sahara. We have heard about the name so many times, walking on the sahara shall be a dream. Perhaps one day I shall go back.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Malay

20/03/10

Among the millions of Egyptians on the road, I pad on someone's shoulder yesterday in the microbus. The different way of the girl wearing hejab, her features, the way she walked etc..

'Are you Egyptians?' I asked.
'No, I am Malaysian.' The Malay girl answered.
It was not a surprised. She was sent by MARA to Egypt to study medical for 6 years.
(I have to admit I am envied at that moment)

We spoke in Bahasa Melayu, and I realized that I have forgotten the word 'melancong', I can only say 'ziarah', which is melancong in arabic.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Today I was wandering on the street when I saw a group of tourists eating ice-cream in front of a shop, how they dressed the tudung made me again pay attention to them. And I heard Malay. The group of 30 is visiting Egypt, will then proceed to Mecca for pilgrim before returning home.

----------------------------------------------------------------

There are so many Malaysian student studying in the Middle East, in Syria, they study Arabic in the famous Masjid Abu-Nour or Damascus University; in Jordan, I was told that there are nearly 800 of them studying in the university somewhere in the northern Jordan; in Egypt, well there are way too many.

And we always think that, well.. I mean I always think that tour package is something cater for only Chinese (so naive of me), I thought Malay prefer to enjoy their life at home, buying new furniture and new TV, paying installment and raising kids. Surprisingly at Crac Des Chevalier, the guide told me they have at least one full bus of tourist from Malaysia everyday. At Damascus Masjid Umayyad, they told me a lot of groups come from Malaysia for pilgrim purposes. At Dahab, they told me they saw so many Malaysians wearing hejab climbing down from Mt. Sinai. And hey, there is one Malay backpacker on the road, someone told me about him in Mar Musa. He graduated from a university in England and traveling all the way back home.

I dont know.. well I know there is some emotion happening inside, but I am carefully make sure I dont over react or over feel. A friend quoted a paragraph from Thich Nhat Hanh --

"As you grow in mindfulness, you take back your life. You begin to see how much time we lose in empty consumption. When we are consuming, we are also being consumed - we have become the objects of other people's consumption. The Buddha said, "Dear friends, you are being eaten by form and by feelings. You are being consumed.""

Need time to get back.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Suez Canal

17/03/10

It was too early to leave behind my winter clothes.

Weather during the past one week was unbearable. Petra, Aqaba, Dahab, the temperature soared over 30 degrees, may be 35 or so I guessed in the day time, I am so tanned now. It looks silly to carry the winter cloths on hand and two extra layers of warm pants, an extra weight in my backpack. So I left behind these in Dahab and Petra. But started from yesterday, the weather in Cairo changed, started to be chilly even in the day.

Finally decided (and action) to leave Cairo and do some traveling. Reached Suez slightly after noon time this morning. Suez canal is the place that I have to visit, not because of I am so much curious or interested about the engineering work or technology that involved, but I remembered the history question in the MCQ during the exams back in secondary school, 'when did Suez Canal starts to operate', never failed to appear in any of the related exam/ test, perhaps signify how important this canal which connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea to the human history. Oh yea, for sure I forgot the answer after passing the exam until I am now in Egypt, I read it was 1869 which the canal started operation.

So I was standing in front of the canal at Suez with the Nubian girl I met on the bus. At first I thought she is an African. It wasn't a surprise to see African here, come on Egypt is considered north Africa anyway, but I was afraid it wasn't polite to ask her directly 'are you African?', it could be provocative for some people I think? So I asked 'where are you from' instead. Perhaps she understand where my question came from, she said 'I am Nubian.' Aha so this is how Nubian look like! Nubian is the enemy of the pharaoh in ancient Egypt, residing in Aswan, the lower Nile.

The girl had her mum drove me to the Suez canal, but she was too afraid about the police and was telling me camera is not allowed here (I never heard of it before), so I quickly take a picture of the canal then leave the place. There was no ship passing by, I can imagine how wow if there is ship. The canal is narrow, much narrow than I imagine, I think the ship will be so near to the corniche when it passed by.

Too bad unable to find any cheap place to stay in Suez, I got to leave to Port Said. Well the canal actually started in Port Said and ends at Suez.

Arrived at Port Said in the evening, just after sunset. The sunset on the bus was gorgeous, the man sat beside me helped me along but he touched my shoulder. I could be too sensitive but I really don't like anyone to touch me at all, and I made my face to let him know I am annoyed.

Looking for the Youth Hostel was a pain in the ass. The day is dark and a man looked like drug addict/ wanderer asked me to follow him. I followed him not because I am crazy but because I thought he saw too many travelers looking for that place and he might know. He lead me into a street and pointed ahead, asked for baksheesh of course before leaving me. Yea you guessed correctly, I was stupid this time, he know nothing. Well about baksheesh, they ask for it everywhere in Egypt. Whenever you put your bag in the lower bunk in the bus, even you don't need the attendant's help, you need to pay baksheesh, 1 Egyptian Pound (RM0.7) minimum.

Found the Youth Hostel with the help of a local. I asked the receptionist, 'how much is a bed?' He looked at me and paused. I think he is trying to mark up a price, so I added 'I want the cheapest bed.' He said, 11 pound (RM7.7), breakfast at 9am. Breakfast free?! Yes.
Wahaha, what a wise decision to leave Suez and come to Port Said.

Walked the whole night to look for koshari, the Egyptian traditional food, 3 pounds; even internet here is cheaper than cairo, 2 pounds. Will be staying here for two nights, wanted to watch the ship passing through the canal tomorrow, before moving on to Alexandra, the city that named after Alexandra the Great.

Oh by the way, watched Avatar last night at the Opera House in Cairo. They have public screening every Tuesday. Was thinking to catch an opera show in the theater, ended up picked up some free stuff!! They have movie screening every Tuesday and it will be a continuous series of Oscar winning movie for the weeks ahead.

Back to normal traveling, stay in hostel, take bus, eat fast food. I am way far from the local other than asking direction. Feel good though, the feeling of traveling is back to me. Anyway will stay with a Canadian when I go back to Cairo next week, a girl that highly recommended by two friends in Mar Musa, as crazy and funny. A friend replied my email, telling me sinful and helpless is the human nature, not to be too disappointed, so cruel and true that made me cry.

Till then. Take care.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Update

13/03/10

So I am in Cairo. It has been a long time I did not update my blog, well.. not that long actually, only a week without entry, I am still considered a hardworking blogger I guessed.

Wasn't too impressed about Jordan, and not paying a single penny on the entrance fee as well, so the overpriced of the tourist places didn't really affect me that much! No no, of course I have been to Petra, but I got the ticket from another person. Spent 12 hours walking around Petra, impressive! Yes I have been to the Dead Sea if you are curious, the driver who picked me up from the Dead Sea Highway stopped me beside the road and asked me to go and float on the Dead Sea. I dipped my hand inside the water, it was a weird feeling. I didn't float on it. I passed Wadi Rum but decided not to stop by, it gave me a feel similar to Kuqa in XinJiang, although other may say they are not the same.

Arrived in Cairo from Dahab yesterday morning, after a day wondering around, I love Cairo. Not that much on the Pyramid but the old Islamic Cairo, full of people, honking, cars, chaos and mess. Went to the pyramid, sorry man although it is full of mystery and ancient knowledge and charm, I wasn't that much into it. Most of the time, it is about how connected you are with the particular site.

Pyramid is fulled of people, especially yesterday was Friday, the weekend of the Egyptian, the site was flocked with crowds. The camel man forced me to take pictures on him. This angle, that angle, another angle. Then he forced his camel to kneel down, forced me to take another picture, this angle that angle another angle. Then he forced me to stand beside the camel and took my picture, this angle that angle the other angle. And then he forced me to pay him money because I took the pictures. He must be crazy to even think that I will pay him.

Walked most of the time, not because the camel is so expensive, in fact it is not expensive at all, just because I wasn't really like to ride on horse or donkey or elephant or camel. Cairo is not that expensive, 5 dollar for a room, plenty of money left for food. The entrance to pyramid is 6 dollar for whoever have a student card. My student card was expired but I did some amendment on the card. To get a new student card in Egypt will cost 20 bucks, I am not going to do that!

Am going to the museum today. Guess will spend the whole day there, and then going to see the Sufi dance tonight. Going to checkout the current 4USD hotel to a 5USD one, nearer to the Nile, I feel more comfortable to walk back during the evening. I like Cairo, although keep worry about getting touch by the Egyptian men. Heard so much bad stories here. Yea.. that day when I was in Dahab, was followed by a guy when was walking alone in the street to the bus terminal. Luckily noticed it earlier or can't imagine what will happen next.

Till then. Take care

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Let's pray for Malaysia

Let's pray for Malaysia, the land full of trouble. Paulo hold my hand and said.

I paused for one second, he already closed his eyes and started to pray. Frankly speaking, I am not sure what shall I pray for. I wonder how much he knew about Malaysia.

There was a conference while I was in Beirut, Lebanon.
A conference about the relationship between the US and the Middle East, it was during the refreshment time while I happened to stand beside this German (perhaps professor or researcher) who has a paper to present.
'Where are you from?'
'Malaysia. Have you been there?'
'Only a couple hours in Kuala Lumpur, but already long enough to understand all the problem in Malaysia'

I wanted to ask what did he understand, about Malaysia. But I knew it will probably be too much judgment and could end up spoiling my beautiful day. I walked away. Ah I hate to hear that. I wonder how much he knew about Malaysia.

The day before I left Mar Musa, I met the guy teaching International Politics in Australia, a politic analyst at the same time. He heard I am from Malaysia, the facial expression is as if you are from a trouble land, before he tried to put on his sympathy face, I asked 'tell me how much you know about Malaysia.'

I know about the racial issue, I know about the religion issue, I know about the ex-deputy prime minister who are accused of sodomy, I knew the economy was doing good during Mahathir time...

It was kind of weird when someone try to tell me Malaysia is a trouble land, it sounds more like Iraq or Afghanistan for me. To some one who grew up there and in love there, those comments are just too much cynical, harsh and painful. And how much an outsider know about Malaysia? Politic is all about propaganda, while these people were worried to be kidnapped in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iran, I wonder how much they know beyond the surface.

So may GOD blessed the trouble land, or let's just migrate to Singapore!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All the way wrong!

Plenty of time during the cloudy day, I decided to checkout the info I told someone without really know the fact..

what is the population of malaysia?
my favorite answer: 25million, sometimes 30 million, once i said 40 million.
correct answer: 28 million by jan 2010 (source: wikipedia malaysia)

what is the population of penang?
my favorite answer: sorry I dont know, I am not good in number
correct answer: 1.5 million (source: wikipedia penang)

how many muslim is your country?
my favorite answer: 65%
correct answer: 54%

where does malay came from?
my favorite answer: indonesia
correct answer: many different theories where they came from but none of them telling anything about indonesia

how big is penang?
my favorite answer: penang is really small, it takes 3.5 hours to round the island (i got this from someone who hired a taxi and round the island)
correck answer: 230km2 (source: wikipedia penang island)

.. thats all i can remember, i think i study rubbish back in school!! jialat!

Another day another joke

02/03/10

Lynn loves my joke, so this is today's joke.

Posted in Thorn Tree (TT) and Virtual Tourist (VT)a question on traveling:

Title: Jerash without entrance fee

"I know it may not sound good to ask so.. but since I am on tight budget I need to ask this...-- anyone know that Jerash is surrounded by fence? Anyway to get into the site without paying?"

Answer from TT:

1. Entrance fee is 8 JD is a very good value for money considering what you get at this significant ruins/site number 2 in Jordan.
This money is vital for the survival of many people in the area who rely on tourism industry for living.

-- the last sentence make me laugh like siao. I cant think of other beneficiary other than the government (after bureaucratic procedures, most probably big part is corrupted); and I will still buy water from the grocery shop next to the site, which the money is so vital for their survival

2.And there is a big fence and many tourist guards wandering about!! And you get a receipt when you pay!

-- as if I am a receipt collector; which I already quit the habit 12 years ago when I found out that I wont have enough space to put my cloths if I keep the habit (was a receipt collector, stamp collector, postal order collector, bus tickets collector, movie ticket collector, button collector, book mark collector, book collector, newspaper collector, letter collector)
hey, we dont need to stick the receipt on our forehead!!

3. It may not sound good to ask. Hey, you're right!

-- I think everyone want to know, just not enough thick skin, you know.. street stock but act high price

My Respond: thanks for the above reply! in this case may be i will just go there and peek through the fence! :)

no offend but 'good value' really depends on the individual, when you pay 0.5USD for persepolis in iran, 10Syrian pound for palmyra in syria, 5USD for baalbek in lebanon, you really doubt if you want to pay 8JD for jerash.. while it is out of question for me as my budget per day is 7JD ;p


4. 8JD for foreigners 1/2 JD for residents. It is a good site, but if you've already been to Persepolis, Baalbek etc. you aren't missing that much by not going in.. i know, i know, call me a heathen, but after a while there is only so much that you can absorb..

-- this person sounds nice so I dont want to comment him

5. your budget is 7JD a day ??? thats the price of coffee in Rome !!! Are you on some sort of challenge or do u come from a 3rd world country or what?

-- this is a clear capitalist. I replied him yes I do come from a third world country

6. I presume that there is no question of your visiting Petra where the entrance fee is 34JD!!! Actually one wonders why you are coming to Jordan, you are certainly not going to be able to move around very much.

-- too much ignorant, the person doesn't know some have the same budget for European country (to my surprise, but it happened). Hitchhiking to solve transportation problem; couchsurfing/ sleeping bag+ carton box to solve accommodation problem; sneaking in tourist site to solve entrance fee

-- the budget is used to buy bread and to donate to beggar or monastery!

7. Well I think she would be paying the 60JD as he wouldn't be able to afford to stay overnight in ~Petra -
no hotels within his daily budget
even if he doesn't eat or drink all day !!!!!!!
Dont attempt to break the law in any country by doing such acts - its reprehensible.

-- There is a budget hostel in Petra cost 3JD per day, obviously the person is not someone who travel cheap

-- and I realized that oh no! I never thought that skipping entrance fee is a crime!! To me perhaps it is just like telling a lie (example your friend call you when you were at home, you asked your mum pick the phone up and say you are not at home)

8. Around tourists visited sites in the Middle East countries there is a security surveillance to ensure the safety of the tourists.If caught you could be charged for more than you think just trying to avoid paying entrance fees

-- I answer this reply and ask if he/she know of any particular case which someone was caught and asked to pay penalty

-- Get caught in Crac Des Chevalier, Syria. I was sneaking in the castle avoiding 3USD entrance fee. The ticket officer threaten me to call the police, and I said, 'please'

Answer from VT:

1. I don't remember exactly, but probably there's a fence. The problem is not the fence. A fence can be jumped/climbed over. The problem is how do you pay the fine if you get caught inside without a ticket if you can't even afford the entrance fee?

-- everyone assume there will be a penalty

2. Yes, I agree!
I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end!
Jordan is more Western than other Middle Eastern countries in many ways. However, it is mostly Muslim. Dishonesty is not appreciated!
Pay the entrance fee ----and support the site!

-- cute and adorable, I want to marry him! But instead of support the site, I will prefer to support my government ;)

3. Number ONE rule when travelling in foreign countries.
DO NOT BREAK THE LAW
The punishment may not always fit the crime. (coming from Malaysia, you should understand this)

-- first of all I have no idea about this rule number one because I did not attend university!!?? wahaha

-- secondly I dont get the idea of this 'Malaysian' coming into picture

4. I agree with not breaking the law and being extra cautious abroad, but what do you mean with this comment?

"The punishment may not always fit the crime. (coming from Malaysia, you should understand this)"

Because drug traffickers get the death penalty in Malaysia?

In many "democracies" in Europe you could get sentenced to years of imprisonment for having an un-orthodox view of a certain historical event. I guess you know what I mean. Does that punishment fit the "crime"?

-- and someone is trying to argue thing out?? Actually I only care if anyone know the exact, one two three way, I am not so much into the discussion

5. Re **I agree with not breaking the law and being extra cautious abroad, but what do you mean with this comment? **

I mean that as an example- is the death penalty warrented for drug trafficking? That is a controversial law, and I am not condoning it or opposed to it. It is against the law to traffic in drugs, and thats a fact of life. So I am not getting into any discussions or arguments about that one....

And I DID say "MIGHT NOT FIT THE CRIME'

This can apply even to a parking ticket - I was not singling out Malaysia.This applies all over the world. The OP should be aware of the meaning of 'breaking the law' because Malaysia, like many countries, is a law-abiding country.

-- and someone respond again.. arghh my question is floating away!!! CONCENTRATE PEOPLE OUT THERE!!

My respond: haha. thank you for all not very helpful reply, but it is good to stir some discussion here. in fact i met an american who sneaked in petra for a continuous of 3 days and we dont have this kind of discussion.

if the forum is for morality criticism or somewhere to teach me what to do or not, i think i know more and sorry i am in the wrong place ;)

stay cool!


6. I'm not talking about the morality. I don't know how much is the entrance fee for Jarash, but I agree that the entrance ticket to Petra is outrageous and not justified. I wouldn't hesitate to sneak in, but I don't want to risk getting caught without a ticket and probably paying more fine than the already astronomical entrance fee. That said I have absolutely no idea about the risk of getting cought. Given the huge amount of tourists it's probably a small risk and you might say you lost your ticket, but who knows. A few years ago when the entrance fee was normal(Already expensive, but not outrageous and there was even a 50% student discount.)I spent 3 days in Petra and my ticket was never checked inside.

-- due to my poor english, I stirred more bubble in the pond.. actually I don't want to use the word morality but I don't know any other word..

7. Tham
You asked a question (which, by the way, you admitted was 'not good to ask')

We gave our opinions.

No-one was lecturing you about morality.

As fellow travellers, we are entitled to give OUR opinions. This is, after all, a forum, from which you will recieve different opinions.

I agree- If you are going to take offence every time someone gives a reply to your questions, it is better not to ask them.

-- arghh.. kill me please.. i am no good in argument, especially in a foreign language!!!

8. I visited Jerash last year. It is surrounded by a fence. It is a great place to visit and is kept in a great state. If you can spend money to go to Jordan, the entrtance fee should not be an issue for you - it is not expensive to try and avoid paying. There are many tourist police on the site. There is also a check point halfway into the area.

-- he assumed that since I can pay 10JD visa fee, I shall be able to pay 8JD for the entrance??

------------------------------------------

So since I don't get any useful thing out of all these postings except 'there is a fence', I went to Jerash today, sunshine sunshine sunshine.

I hitched and the car driver who worked overnight as a nurse in the hospital (people without sleep tend to have stink mouth) 'forced' me to pay, because he did not or pretend to be not understand 'hitchhike' or 'autostop'. He wanted me to pay 2JD (10RM) for the 50km trip. After some bargain, I paid 1JD. Damn! The rest of the trip I kept quiet. He asked me if I am angry. Come on I am not angry, if the trip gotta pay, who want to talk to someone who is stink! It is business, no more courtesy.

Arrived at Jerash, the first attempt was walking in an opened gate. The guard stopped me, say 'I am sorry but you have to go through that door and buy ticket.'
I looked at him.. ticket?..
'Yea I am really sorry.' he said. It further justify that the side doesn't worth 8JD, or why he sounds like he is at fault rather than me?

I walked the direction opposite of the main entrance, and there is a restaurant. The staff of the restaurant knew what I intend to do, it have to be a steep climb, I am not sure if I want to do it.
I pretended taking picture. What the hell, I stepped back and returned to the main road, keep walking outside the fence.

And I came to the Southern gate where a lot of restoration work is on going. So many workers, mud, bulldozer. And the small door is opened.

I crossed the door, telling myself these workers are most probably Egyptian or Palestinians, who has low pay and work just to earn a loaf of bread, and was looked down by Jordanian. They are the people who are not happy with their life, who earn not enough to feed the mouth, and if no exception, who mind their own business.

Spent 3 hours in Jerash. The site is bigger than Baalbek, more compact than Palmyra. There is a oval forum and the pillar in Temple of Artemis, certainly the highlights. I saw some tourist police in the site, took one picture of them. He said 'thank you, madam.'

Afterwards I replied in both forum: thank you for all the replies, it is very kind of you to spend time reading and replying the forum. I went to Jerash today, spent 3 hours there, didnt pay, but dont get me wrong, I didnt climb fence or destroy anything inside, i walked in, took some pictures and leave some footprint, the footprints shall be gone by tomorrow :)

I am not proud of the thing that I have done, seriously. But I think if you understand human nature (how much selfish and coward one can be, or how much ignorant or over react one can be (as raising in different background, just like those answering forums)), you can certainly manipulate many thing.

I guess that's the biggest course that traveling had taught me. (remind me of the article in china: 你说你是就是)

p/s: this entry end up like rojak.. paiseh

Monday, March 1, 2010

Still in Amman

01/03/10

It is March 2010. So fast. And I am still in Amman, the capital of Jordan which is well-known for nothing. It was raining for the past few days, hailing yesterday. Good timing for movie, and online chatting :)

Was chatting with someone you might know that day, shall not disclose the name.. facebook. (the conversation in hokkien)

A: 30 liao lo, old liao
B: yea lo dun be so picky liao faster find a boyfriend and get married
A: no guy around me leh not because of picky, want to pick also bo tan pick
B: aiya ane cham meh.. u wait for me to go back malaysia, let's go match making together
A: walau uu nia bo, you change so much ar i thought you want to stay single
B: getting boring liao i think i want to settle down and have 6-8 kids
A: meet no one during traveling meh
B: arh those traveler only flirt flirt and say tata, nothing serious
A: wa u change so much leh
B: yea lo i change so much
A: wahaha okok
B: wahaha okok

Throughout the travel, I thought of what I want and what I am doing, someone thought I must be so much lost or confused that I need to set my foot on the road to find the real me or true me, like written in the book or show in the movie. Too bad it is not what happened to me. Started traveling because I love traveling and love to see things by my eyes, but more and more people I met and talked to, the more I confused on what is going on on this world/ on human being, a lot of time the feeling of helpless and disgusting aroused and I am not capable enough to digest accordingly.

It was that day in Mar Musa which I realized that I am too far away from myself, too much anger, ignorant, and self-egoism; which I really need to change my living style to get back the rhythm, and getting into the core again. Yes I am on my way to India after Egypt, you know what does that mean.

Always read in book, where people found themselves through traveling; I donno what's wrong with me, but I lost myself through traveling.