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Post card from South East Asia

posted Nov 30, 2012, 9:36 AM by Hung Nguyen   [ updated Apr 26, 2013, 4:10 AM by Peter Ly ]
Dear members of Cercle des Immortels,

We were in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Melacca (Malaysia) for one week, after that our Australian friends joined us in Langkawi and Singapore. This is the third time I come back to KL and Singapore. South East Asian countries always appeal to me as these places are culturally relevant to us, they are relatively cheap, and you can try all luxurious things without breaking your bank.

Visiting KL (or any South East Asian city) during World Cup time is an experience by itself. You can feel the world cup atmosphere everywhere you go. You can read newspapers (16 pages dedicated to soccer) or see match replays in most shopping centres, bars or even at airports. KL and World Cup have a special place in my memory. It was in 1978, as a refugee at the gate of heaven waiting to be resettled in Australia, I was wandering around KL with open eyes and enjoyed watching relay of the match in the final between Argentina and Netherlands in colour TV! This time I watched the matches in the comfort of the top 5-star hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Singapore.

Langkawi is an excellent destination for holidays – pristine beaches and spectacular islands. We’ve been to Phuket & Chang Mai (Thailand), Jakarta & Bali (Indonesia), Hội An, Nha Trang & Mũi Né (Vietnam), Siem Reap (Cambodia); Langkawi is the best all round including variety of seafood, nature, hospitality and tranquillity…

Singapore is OK with black pepper mud crab and it is no longer a cheap Asian country. Since becoming a nation in 1965 (after splitting with the Malay Federation), it has come a long way from being a third world colony to become a first world city. This reminds me a poem written by Cao Bá Quát when he came there in 1844 (khi CBQ đi theo sứ bộ Ðầu Tri Phú sang Batavia – Indonesia để chuộc tội và ngừng lại tại Tân Gia Ba) and sadly things have not changed much in our beloved country since more than 160 years ago.

“…Tân Ba từ vuợt con tàu,
Mới hay vũ trụ một bầu bao la.
Giật mình khi ở só nhà,
Văn chương chữ nghĩa khéo là đồ chơi,
Không đi khắp bốn phương trời,
Vùi dầu án sách uổng đời làm trai…”

We then were en route to Saigon, our final stop-over for a few days before going home. Saigon was also caught up with the World Cup fever. If you were in Saigon, having café on the road side in the middle of heavy morning traffic, you could see people in all walks of life were betting all of their savings on the football matches... I always love Saigon with all the good old memories; however Saigon traffic is getting worse every day with ever increasing level of noise. One traveller has noted in his diary that: riding/driving in Vietnam – particularly in Saigon – one must be well prepared and needs three good things: good brake, good horn and good luck!

We’ve had a wonderful time and wish you were all here.



World Cup season, June-July 2010

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur