When Mahatma Gandhi visited the UK back in the day some reporter asked: “Tell Me, Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization?” Gandhi cleverly replied “I think it would be a very good idea”.
I bet there are many people who may label him simply as smartass but as westerner traveling in non-Western world I am starting to think he might have had a point. Since my last blog I have wondered through wonderful places. Malaysia and Singapore were fantastic experiences and currently I am spending my last day in Indonesia before flying to Australia. Let’s see how I feel when I am back to “Western civilization” tomorrow morning. I am certain that this part of travels I am about to finish has been one that has taught me the most.
As on previous times the format is the same. Hope you enjoy this blog entry and do ask questions and comment if you feel like it! Do check out the photos as well.
1. Indonesian smiles
Everyone in Metropolia Business School knows our very own Anu Luoma. Now think that you are surrounded by hundreds of Anu wannabies (after all, there can be only one Anu!) and you get pretty close how I feel being in Indonesia. I have never seen so many smiles than here – and they are not those forced five second smiles that you might encounter at McDonalds but smiles that are honest and genuine. It seems to me that these people are truly happy and positive, and to make it even better – it’s contagious! So why don’t you start your own epidemic wherever you are. It might make someone’s day. Or they might think you are totally nuts. Well, there is one place where you don’t see smiles – give them a car or scooter and they turn into total madmen who would not mind killing you in a heartbeat.
2. Desserts in Malaysia
I think it must be the fusion of different cultures but Malaysian desserts were truly amazing! It is hard to pinpoint any single experience (maybe the blueberry cheesecake that I had in Langkawi or… the list goes on!) They were made from fresh ingredients and had everything I could ask for from dessert. Thankfully I spent only a week there – otherwise I would have gained much more weight that I lost to that stomach bug earlier.
Cities (or countries to that matter) don’t get much better than Singapore. Its Hong Kong meets New York meets Helsinki. Clean, well organised, wonderful food, efficient service and beautiful waterfront. Some call Singapore police state or fine city (pun intended) but only thing I was able to notice was lots of signs telling about fines but not a single police officer anywhere.
4. Snorkeling in Gili Islands, Indonesia
Believe it or not, I do not carry my camera with me all the time. Sometimes, when the conditions are really good, I will do other things like snorkeling as well. Conditions were about perfect in Gili Islands (near Bali) so I couldn’t help myself and left my camera bag on the boat and took a dip and what an experience it was! Hundreds of species of fish, colourful corals and incredibly clear water with visibility close to 20 meters! I will be doing this more in Australia and might even buy an underwater case for my camera!
5. Dinner with Vivian Maar
I met EM08 student Vivian Maar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s truly amazing to see how our students are true World citizens and making this planet a better place! And so it happens our dinner took place in the same time when Helsinki was celebrating their gala dinner.
1. Bottled water
Finnish people (and many others) take drinkable tap water for granted. It should be like that everywhere but it isn’t. I don’t even want to think how many thousands of bottles I have been drinking during my travels. It’s obviously much larger issue than my money being spent on water, or me producing a lot of unnecessary waste – in many countries private water bottling companies are actually hampering the process to get clean water to everyone. Take Turkey as an example; tap water is virtually safe everywhere in Turkey yet more and more people are buying bottled water (water is big business now and it will be huge in the future). I hope it would go the other way around.
Earlier I complained of not getting visa to Pakistan and Iran. Well, now I am complaining about visas in general. There are two reasons why I am not happy about them. First of all, they cost money. I could have spent that money on something much more important – and believe me, I have spent quite hefty amount of money in visas during this trip. The second reason? My passport has two empty pages left because visa stickers steal much more space than stamps. Next time I am renewing my passport I am going for diplomatic one with extra pages! Oh and get rid of the departure taxes while you’re at it!
I know smokers are going to hate me for saying this but I don’t care. Smoking seems to be very common in Southeast Asia (especially in Indonesia). One can smoke anywhere – and believe me local people do! Restaurants, taxis, buses and even supermarkets can be filled with smoke. Big tobacco companies have given up hope with Europe and North America and they clearly see lucrative business opportunities in developing world, and so far they have been very successful. Shame on them.
Time passes by way too fast when one is having good time. I cannot believe I am returning to Finland in less than two months (taken that I don’t change my mind and decide to continue my travels!) Finland? Work? Forget that, I don’t know what those two words mean!
5. Not 5 lists
Yeah, you can see I am having great time. I cannot even find five things on my list 🙂
Did you know…?
All of you who have hard time learning another language; I have some good news for you. Bahasa Indonesia – language of Indonesia is supposed to be one of the easiest languages to learn. It is also spoken by over 350 million people so you won’t be alone. Bahasa Malaysia sounds and looks (at least to foreigners) very similar. So all you business school students, ask Ross about some private language classes if you’re interested!
Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world with 240 million inhabitants. It consists of thousands of islands (something between 10 000 – 20 000!) so no wonder that the country has hundreds of different languages and cultures as well. It’s good that everyone speaks Bahasa!
Bali Nine refers to nine Australian citizens who were arrested on tourist island Bali (Indonesia) in 2005 when they were trying to smuggle several kilos of heroin to Australia. All of them faced very hard punishments – two were sentenced to death by firing squad and the rest were sentenced to life imprisonment or 20 years behind the bars. Some say it’s just to set an example to other foreigners that Indonesia is taking drug smuggling seriously.
Malaysia is very multicultural. Walk around the streets of Georgetown and you will smell curry in Little India, see the Chinese characters in Chinatown and see the colonial buildings. About half of the population is ethnic Malay, one fourth Chinese and one tenth is Indian. It really makes Malaysia stand out from other countries in Southeast Asia, in a good way!