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Malaysia 2012/13

Since Mariska goes to school, we are dependent a school breaks for holidays. We notice however that school holidays are the busiest periods. We like to explore Malaysia this year, but a month before we see that most flights are full. We see on Internet that Qatar Airways still has a few seats available. We book them directly and later design a holiday in Malaysia around it. We plan a trip by rental car from the south to the north, then we fly back to Kuala Lumpur and return home, after a stop in Doha, Qatar.

We always plan extra time to travel to the airport, to cater for problems en route. When we wake up on the day of departure, the world is white. So we instantly plan another hour extra time. The first hour of the trip to Budapest goes without problems, but on the autobahn to Budapest the traffic comes to a halt. We can only guess what it is. You can expect an accident in this slippery weather. We move at slow walking pace and we know that if we are stuck for two hours here, we can say goodbye to our holiday, the paid tickets and hotels. Our seat will fly away empty, and no chance to book another one these days. There is a good chance that people, after being caught in a traffic jam, try to compensate for that by speeding, increasing the risks of other mishaps. With relief we see after more than half an hour creeping forward, police lights at the horizon that may indicate the end of the problem. And indeed, we are lucky, pass the spot of the accident and only can hope it is the last one. Unfortunately we lost a precious hour.

We are lucky and are in time to check-in. It is a brand new Airbus 320 that takes us to Qatar’s airport Doha, landing at midnight. We have a miserable schedule: next flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia takes off more than 8 hours later, so no time to go for a night rest in a hotel in Doha town. We decide not to hang around in the waiting area but in a lounge, the luxurious Oryx Lounge, where we buy for 120 dollar entry. For that you get unlimited drinks, snacks, internet and so on. You can spend your time more comfortable, but still hanging in, be it, comfortable chairs to try to sleep a little. That is of course not very successful, we are glad to board the aircraft for the next 8 hour flight to Malaysia.

The new Doha airport is still under construction, so at the old one we have to go to the aircraft by busses. An enormous number of Qatar Airway aircraft is parked there. Strange, aircraft should fly en not be parked. They have additionally 250 new aircraft for 50 billion dollar on order. It might be a challenge to fill them all.

The flight to Kuala Lumpur goes eventless. All is OK; especially the In-flight entertainment system is the best we have seen so far. The meals are not bad, but certainly not excellent. Qatar Airways is rated as Airline of the year 2011 and 2012. I have no idea why. They have new aircraft and both flights were completely full, so they did good business.

The transfer to our hotel in Melaka, the Mahkota Hotel was well organized and two hours later we came at our hotel. The Mahkota hotel is a giant hotel, where we first got a wrong room. But we got an extra bed for Mariska. The breakfast was marvelous; all you can think about was there, including delicious traditional Malay breakfast.

The first event next morning was the Melaka Eco Bike Tour We were shown lots of very interesting things of nature, culture and agriculture. Malaysia is one of the major producers of palm oil, rubber and tea. And many more products are produced here. The country started as a giant jungle but about 90 % was cut and used as agricultural land. Good for commercial products, but a disaster for those who cherish nature. There is definitely a difference of virgin jungle and horizon-to-horizon plantations of palm oil trees. Some 40 % of the palm oil goes to Holland, where it is refined for edible oil, cosmetics and bio-diesel. All parts of the oil palm are used, what is not useful at the time can be used as compost. There were many rubber plantations as well. Daily a fresh cut is made in the bark of the tree and about a liter of bright white thick fluid is collected daily, that contains 40% latex. It dries quickly and is then extremely strong. You can collect dried latex from the tree and wind that to a bouncing ball. If you take a string with some bark on it you get a bouncing ball that bounces very unpredictable: a nice toy. Further we were shown trees of cashew. They eat here the young leaves as salad.

After the eco bike tour we went out to explore the town of Melaka . The historic centre is very touristic. There are many traces of the Dutch reign over the area that started in 1642 and lasted 150 years, until they were chased away by the British. The remains of the fortress and the windmill show the Dutch connection. The waterfront along the river has all old building still in place but mostly converted to shops and restaurants. Most tourists are Malaysians. The waterfront offers a nice sight in the evening.

We read in the papers that there is an enormous Flooding in the eastern part of the country. Pictures are shown of large areas under water and cars caught in the flood, especially in Kuantan, where we have to go. Just north of Kuantan is our next destination. We call the hotel there to ask if it is a problem and indeed it is. Then we call the travel agency to sort out a solution and we get the advice to follow a different route. We get the car, a local made Proton. The car is OK, comfortable and reliable.However, it is an experienced car, full of little dents and scratches. We make pictures of all the damage, to prevent hassle after the lease.

The trip is Ok in the beginning; we pass endless plantations of oil palms and cross the cool mountains. The oil palms deliver every 2 week a cluster of fruit, as big as a very big bucket. Everywhere on the road you see trucks full of palm fruit. The roads are excellent until now, but that changes soon. The car is more and more suffering from unavoidable potholes in the road. But the car seems to stand that well. Before we find the resort we see a giant waran on the street.

Holiday Villa Beach Resort, Cherating is wonderful. At first we get a small room with one bed, but after we mention it we get the premium villa we paid for. First thing to do is a stroll along the beach. The heavy monsoon rain did wash ashore quite a lot and even damaged the beach. Mariska still eats almost nothing, and especially no Malay food. And in the evening she cries she is homesick, she misses her house in Hungary.

We are recovering from the jet lag and decide to sleep without alarm clock. That results in missing our breakfast and that is not the only setback this day. At the car we see we have a flat tire, which is almost flat. Luckily very close to the resort there was a fuel station, so we decided to drive with the almost flat tire at walking pace to the station. Friendly staff offered to replace the tire but the wheel could not be removed. Even banging with a hammer on the aluminum alloy wheel only resulted in dents. I asked for a screw driver and with a few well placed hits with a hammer on the srewdriver on the inner edge of the wheel, the wheel came off. It was replaced by a small emergency wheel. So far so good, we started en route looking for a tire shop. We passed after a few kilometers along a primitive car maintenance station, but checking there the emergency tire it was a shock! It was almost empty. The air was lost through a dent in the rim. The shop owner said there was no other solution than to replace it, but I asked two hammers. With a few well placed hits the dent was kicked back and indeed repaired: the tire did not lose any air again. Good enough to look for a serious tire shop. There the specialist discovered a nail in the surface. The nail was removed, the hole plugged and in 10 minutes we were ready for departure again, for only 2 dollars, including a complementory drink. During the rest of the trip the repair proved to work out very well.

That was not the last problem that day. The roads were at many place flooded, traffic was re-routed and thanks to the GPS and free Nokia maps, we always found an alternative road. But sometimes the road was flooded by a fast flowing , but undeep river. Many people did not dare to try to cross that and were standing on the road in a long row. We tried it, trusting that if we kept pace, we could make it. The engine had to keep running as the exhaust was under water and re-starting would be impossible. Look at this video, 122MB, loading cost some time.We cleared the river successful but immediately the air-conditioning failed. That’s a real big problem in this hot and moist weather. It is not easy to survive here without air co. A good chance was that after drying the connections it would resume operation. And it did, luckily.

The road was bad with lots of potholes. Everybody was trying to avoid these and swing rather unpredictable over the roads, very dangerous.

Soon the next problem showed up. The address of the next resort, Lake Kenyir Resort at the Kenyir Lake, was a postbox number in Kuala Berang. Of course we checked earlier on internet, but all the information about the resort could not be found in the maps we have or on the GPS, nor on the Nokia. So we thought there must be giant road signs, pointing to the resort. But nothing was seen, and nobody knew anything about that Lake Kenyir Resort and Spa. We lost quite some times at the flooded roads, so evening was approaching. After some map study we decided to take one of the many possible roads and after 40 kms –surprise- we found the resort. Bingo! We do not like puzzles, especially not if we are looking for a destination you already have paid. But it was well worth it: nice chalets in a scenic setting.

At the reception it appeared someone cancelled our stay but is was no problem to get our chalet, as the resort was almost empty. . Maybe someone of the travel agency thought we never would make it through the flooded area. There were indeed only a few guests, with a capacity of hundreds: they have 135 chalets. There was many times more staff than guests. It must be difficult to run a resort this way. Especially considered that it is high season, Christmas time.At breakfast only 4 tables were prepared for guests.

Dinner was excellent and Mariska did eat even a little, some French fries.

Next day during a walk along the water both Birgitt and Mariska fell on the slippery wood, that left them with bleeding scratches. That was not the last problem that day. Soon after, Mariska burned het little hand on the very hot tap water and the poor child screamed it out from pain. She spent the next hours with her hands in cold streaming water. But after some hours the pain miraculously disappeared, despite blisters.

Still there was time for a boat trip on the Kenyir Lake. We see an island with a botanical garden with herbs and medical plants. Then we visit a waterfall. Beautiful butterflies show their beauty.

The next destination Cameron Highlands is in a straight line on the map only 176 km, however we have to make an enormous detour, close to Thailand to avoid the most direct road, which is said to be full of deep potholes. Everyone we speak strongly advises to take the long route.

The trip to our next destination, the Cameron Highlands, is a long trip, with many parts of the road littered with potholes. Very often we see durians offered along the road. Durian is a big fruit with pyramid like sharp thorns. But the surprise is on the inside: big white bean shaped soft fruit. They are delicious but stink in such a way that they are prohibited in hotels, planes and public transport.Think about the smell of socks weared for 2 weeks or so in a wet climate. "They taste like heaven and smell like hell" is an expression. So I have to eat the durian while en route.

Approaching the Cameron Highlands the road climbs and becomes better and better. We approach the area where vegetables and fruits are produced, usually under a plastic cylinder shaped roof. We have programmed our GPS with some estimated position of our hotel, Bala's chalet,Bala's Chalet derived from Google maps, as this time we have no valid address as well. We pick a position from Google maps and the GPS guides us to a destination, off from the main road to a scenic area, the tea plantations of Malaysia. We end up through a very steep and narrow road at a strawberry farm. The strawberries for self pick are sold for 4 times the price we pay at home. This part of Malaysia is very touristic and its peak high season. No room for all the cars of all the guests and the traffic comes to a standstill. The last 8 kilometers take 3 hours. Eventually we find Bala’s Chalets and it is a nice surprise: a traditional old English cottage with a friendly, mostly Indian staff, serving excellent dinner. We live in an old English style cottage, which has two levels. The cottages are located on a steep hill. We are lucky with the weather as we heard that it has rained constantly the two weeks before.

Next morning a “Tea Tour” is on our program, which starts in brilliant sunshine. First we take the same route as the day before and arrive at the top of the highest mountain, 2021 m high. We climb a tower on top of the mountain, which provides us with an excellent view over the area. Next stop is the Mossy Jungle where we can immerse ourselves in the, with moss covered, jungle. After that, next destination is the famous ‘Boh’ tea plantation, factory and visitor centre. Boh is a premium brand. We were informed about the plantation and the process to make tea. All tea trees, that looks like shrubs with a real trunk, are clones from one superior plant. Basically every 21 days the shrubs are shaved from the young, soft leaves with a horizontal cutting machine. The width of cutting machines is responsible for the typical pattern of the tea shrubs. It is a heavy job, they cut about 900 kilo per day that must be transported to the factory. This is very hard work, which earns only 12 euro per day. Then the green tea leaves are cut, rolled, partly dried, fermented, fully dried, and sent for packing. A rather hundred years old technology from Sri Lanka was still used, but these are still effective. It cost an incredible amount of bad paid hard work and expert knowledge to produce quality tea. Difficult to imagine you can buy tea for the prices that are actually paying in our country. As of now I drink my tea with much respect for the producers of tea. In fact we should pay much more for tea, paying that low price can be regarded as contributing to a kind of slave labor. The company produces tea for more than 5 million cups per day. I definite will drink with much more respect my tea.

Next item was a visit to a butterfly and reptile farm. If you ever have seen butterflies in Costa Rica, all others are a disappointment. There was one interesting animal giant insect. A remarkable area is the cool Cameron Highlands. The highlands are packed with big hotel complexes for mostly Malaysian tourists, big hotel but no roads to support the masses of tourists.And many big

It’s time to pack again, for the 300 kms to the island Penang on the west coast. We had 2 nice days and its now drizzling again. No big problem if you have to drive. En route we took a picture of the fern tree, which only can be found here. The trip was uneventful; sometimes the landscape was very interesting with almost vertical cliffs. Mariska manages to make a picture of it through the rainy window of the car. We approached Penang over a long bridge. Penang has many aspects. One is the traditional old town and the other are the many high rise luxurious hotels and condominiums. They are lining the east and north coast. We never have seen a concentration of so many top notch hotels. The cars are of similar quality. However the road development did not kept the pace of the building activities, so we ended in a long traffic jam. At last we reached the Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort, a single hotel tower on a relatively small area, flanked by other high rise hotels. We were so lucky to get a big apartment on the highest, the 25th floor with a brilliant view over the sea. First thing to do was a stroll over the beach to collect sea shells. There we made a walking tour in the area and saw a nice Chinese temple. There was a big contrast with the shacks and the villa’s opposite each other in the same street. The evening approached we could make some nice pictures of the coast. It was New Years Eve. When the fireworks went off, we could see it from above, Mariska managed to mage a pic of that.

Having seen enough of the high rise hotels and resorts, next morning we make a tour through the old city of George Town by two trishaws. Birgitt has a Chinese the other was an Indian driver. It is a melting pot of cultures and many buildings of the past are still there. The trip goes along the Fort Cornwallis, where many artifacts are saved. The master piece is an old Dutch bronze cannon, the Seri Rambai, in an excellent shape, a masterpiece with the logo of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) on it. It was a presented to the sultan of Johor in 1606, was captured by the Acheh seven years later and was in 1871 brought to Penang by the English. A rather strange explanation was displayed on a board next to the canon. There were iron guns as well, in a worse shape. Interesting was, that the suspension bars were welded, not exactly a technique known in the old days.

Mariska, our flower girl, made some nice pictures of flowers, birds and other interesting details, like coconuts. the gunpowder bunker was still in a good shape.

Next was a visit to the clan jetties. They were built in the sea on wooden beams and belong to a Chinese clan. So all the people living there, are family. They lived there from centuries ago. And though people are just living there, visitors may enter the Jetty. The wooden beams are reinforced by cement, that is just poured dry in plastic pipes probably the water will be added later, to harden the mixture. We saw as well plastic buckets without bottoms filled with cement as protection for the wood.

Many cultures like Chinese, Muslims, Hindu and Buddhist live peaceful together. That is good visible in the Street of Harmony where all faiths come together. The Chinese temples are always very interesting, the smoke and smell of incense and offerings give a special atmosphere. After Chinatown we go to the Indian quarter, with different smells and traditions.

We end the tour at an outlet of a luxury chocolate factory, where we buy lots of products, of course much too expensive.

The rental car is picked up, without an extra dent or scratch. The Proton served us very well: one and a half thousand kilometers left hand traffic over often very bad, potholed roads. The fuel consumption was excellent, though that was not relevant as the fuel in Malaysia costs only a quarter of fuel in Europe.

Today is the trip to the north, by fboat from Penang to Langkawi, an island near the Thai border. We are crossing the big hotel area of Penang. Hundreds of 5 star hotels, each of them more impressive than anything we have seen in our homeland. There must have been a huge flow of capital to this island, to make that happen. We started the trip early morning in the dark, to have ample time to cope for problems. The taxi followed a smart route through the narrow roads of the deserted old town, thus avoiding traffic jams. We arrived at the jetty and followed exactly the instructions on the voucher. There was lots of confusion as there were 2 ferries departing, with 15 minutes interval. We were a few times sent away by the rather panicking staff from the check-in desk. But as the departure time of 08.30 approached, I got the creepy feeling something was not OK. I went for the third time to the check-in counter and only then they told me the voucher was no good, I had to go to “the yellow building” to get a ticket. At the check-in counter they could not process the voucher. We ran (it was boarding time) away to look for the office. It took some time to find the offst ice of the company, with had two girls as staff. They looked very puzzled at the computer screen and said, sorry we have no booking in your name and unfortunately the ferry is fully sold out. Pointing to the voucher I insisted: stop the ferry. I have paid and I want my reserved seats. They looked and looked again: no booking. However, there was a stack of tickets on their desk and I could point to one of them with my name on it. No wonder it was a problem. One moron had typed in the tickets departure date 20 January instead of 02 January so they could not find it. That was not the last hick-up. But to make a long story short, we managed to get in Langkawi with the fast ferry.

The poor driver of our private transfer at Langkawi had waited an hour due to the delay in arrival, but took us to The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa. It was nicely located on the beach with many swimming pools and even a hot whirlpool. We got a nice bungalow with a very smart feature in this hot climate: an outside shower.

The second day on Langkawi we plan the trip around the island. We hire a car with private guide and driver, so we all can enjoy the trip and are not dependant on others. We first go to the Black Sandy Beach. It is black by pulverized tourmaline semi-precious stone, leached from the old granite.This is not visited by foreign tourists and we can enjoy here fresh young coconut, cut open with a sharp knife by a lady and a delicious Malay meal.

Next is the Cable car, departing from Oriental Village,a tourist venue with all the charm you can expect from that . The cable car climbs to 700 meters above sea level. It is solid Austrian, Doppelmayer technology. Like in the winter sport, people queuing to enter, it must be a good business. At 2 stations you can leave the cable car to enjoy the tropical rainforest and the scenery. As usual it rains in the rainforest. We see a high waterfall, but further the visibility is marginal.

After descending we go to the waterfall but walking to it we have a big surprise: we see two big hornbills let’s say the Asian toucan we saw in Costa Rica, but this bird much bigger. It moved agile through the trees. But eventually was chased away by a monkey. Then we go to the waterfall, which is nothing special.

The trip goes further to the northeast. There are the mangrove forests and the eagles. We like to see them and hire a boat just for ourselves, as we have more freedom then. We see lots of interesting features of the mangrove forest. Mangroves are one of the few plants that like to have their roots under water, even salt water. There is rich aquatic life, even a natural nursery for fish, and eagles feast on it.

We saw a few types of eagles; they catch with their claws the fish from the water.. A giant ish eagle showed its skills. Then we went to a fish farm. Fishermen catch the fish and deliver it to the farm where it is kept alive and sold to the restaurants. The fish farm had even an own restaurant. They showed some interesting fish, big rays, a leopard shark and a very rare fish that looks like a living fossil.

Then we went at the mouth of the bay from where we could see Thailand, a few kilometers away. From here we could see the Gorilla Mountain again, and proceded from here to the harbour. It was a day spent well worth.

Next day an even more expensive adventure: scuba diving at the Pulau Payar Island. This is a small group of islands, 30 kms south of Langkawi. Upon booking at East Marine, the lady of the dive school said the visibility was bad, only 5 meters. That sounds bad as usually they lie the half of the visibility, so expect 2-3 meters. A modern, fast boat took us in an hour to that area. It was all very good organized by East Marine diving school. The only thing they could not organize was the visibility under water and that was indeed bad due to the spawning coral and fish. That attracts fish, so there were many. The visibility was locally only a little better, even better than the promised 5 meters. But further no special or interesting thing under water, but still we dived 2 times. for48 and 56 minutes. Langkawi is surely not worth as a destination for primarily a dive holiday, but if you are around, it’s nice to check it out.

In the mean time, Mariska had a great time at the swimming pool. jumping elegant in the water And doing her homework

This night we saw our last sunset in Langkawi,Ais dark and at the horizon the fisher boats can be seen with high intensety lights, to attract fish. Tomorrow evening we fly to Kuala Lumpur and spend the night there.

The last day in Langkawi was enjoyable, and let the excess nitrogen wash out of the body after diving and prior the flight. We were playing in the pool , the beach , the pool again (this is a video, it will take time to load) and get an introduction in the eco management of the resort. They are dedicated to do that, on a rather big terrain next to the resort is their eco area, where all the waste is recycled. Of course not exactly a pretty smelling operation, specially the purification of wastewater but in the tropics it works that way. And the eco area is far enough from the resort. They produce their own organic vegetables and have won with their operations a price. Of course it needs investments, but many investments pay back in a relatively short time. And saving of expenses is definitely a driving force as well. They make their own organic insect repellents and the chicken bones, which return to the kitchen, are buried under trees to give nutrition. They got the title “Malaysia’s greenest resort”.After that we enjoyed the nice atmosphere in the resort.

At the end of the day a taxi brought us to the Langkawi International Airport and the impeccable Air Asia Airbus 320 brought us in one hour to Kuala Lumpur. They have a big fleet and still 200 on order, and they make money, at least last year. It was a good experience, with excellent service. We got our pre-booked dinner out of a choice we had, the service is much better than like likes of Ryanair. In June we fly with them again, then to Australia. A big difference indeed compared to the cumbersome organisation around the boat trip to Langkawi.

In Kula Lumpur we took a budget taxi the 20 km trip to Concorde Inn and in time Mariska could sleep. Doha in Qatar is our next destination next day.

Malaysia is a Muslim country, however the other religions have further no restrictions. Almost all Muslim women wear scarf’s of a certain model.

The Concorde Inn is a low risk hotel to get to the airport in time, as it’s only a few minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur Intenational Airport. Important you have KLIA, as there are more airports and the next is opened in June.

We were in time to go two times through all the security checks and arriving at the gate just before boarding time, Birgitt was trying to look for drinks for Mariska for onboard use. She was gone for three quarters of an hour without mobile or watch (and no idea she was out for that long time) and that’s no pretty feeling if it’s boarding time. To my relief she showed up just in time with the precious drinks for Mariska. However, she he could throw all directly in the bin as it is forbidden to take fluids through the third and last security checks, as was listed on a big poster.

The flight was uneventful and in Qatar, after passing the Immigration that charged 90 USD for visa to leave the airport, we took a taxi to the Al-Ghazai hotel, as we could not find the driver from the hotel who should be waiting for us. It was in the traditional shop area, specialised in small furniture

We got an upgrade to a big apartment, Mariska enjoyed her big queensize bed.

We made a stroll and had a nice dinner. Doha had a perfect weather, sunny, bright, and warm, not as hot as in Malaysia. We enjoyed it to look around. We were in an area with many small shops. Interesting were the many small shops with very luxurious interior design items. Most cars are white SUV’s there. Traffic was quiet and people were friendly. The most people we met were however foreigners, from the Philippines, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. The buildings are mostly yellow or sand color.To our surprise,Women wears seldom scarf’s here, in Amsterdam you see more. However the men are often in traditional Arabic dress with an Arabic scarf, it looks nice. It looks that the women here are more advanced then the women of European Muslim immigrants.

Next morning we were transported to the airport and the boarding began on time. At the internet check-in we saw that the aircraft was full, all places sold out, so we were a little worried that so many people were carrying more than one bag allowed, even of bigger size than allowed. This will never fit in the overhead luggage compartments. Outsize bags should have been stopped at the gate. We always measure carefully the dimensions and weight of our bags, to comply with the rules of the Company, but this time we looked to be the only ones. While boarding we saw the how careless the crews loaded the bags in the aircraft hold, one bag even fell high from the transport band. Boarding almost as the last, we hardly could pass the many baggage placed in the aisle. This would never fit in and was indeed too big to fit in the overhead bins or placed in front of the owners. Takeoff time passed and then the captain mentioned there was an issue with bags, no surprise for us. People were not willing to hand their bags to place the bags in the hold. I can imagine, as I would not place my luggage with the precious equipment there as well, knowing how they handled it. Then the captain said that if the passenger would not comply with the orders of the cabin crew and put the luggage in the hold, they would be removed from the plane by the police, that is the last warning. Later we heard one problem was with instruments, and indeed, at the baggage collection in Budapest a man next to me collected a box with a violin and was inspecting it. The cabin crew should have understand it and let other luggage to be placed in the hold.

Being late, we lost our takeoff slot and became nr 7 in the row of the push back, delay after delay. We took off 70 minutes late and that might be very frustrating for people with a connecting flight, especially as we had a strong headwind. Mariska took a picture of Baghdad Mariska does not look happy: she likes to stay in malaysia.

. The flight with Qatar airways, with this false start was rather chaotic and the service marginal. Qatar airways labels themselves as the Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012, but the laurels came definitely not from this flight. The company is growing almost explosively and we flew 4 times in full aircraft, definitely not at discount priced, so kudos for the company to get their clients. But Qatar Doha international Airport is not fit for that enormous number of passengers. There are not enough seats available, there were even long lines for the male toilets, we have never seen that. Soon the new airport with more capacity will be opened. On a smart way, with color codes on gthe boarding pass, they could still handle the arriving and transit passengers.

A surprise was on this holiday that, for the first year, almost everywhere the WIFI internet was very slow. Or even impossible to connect. Everybody is constantly looking in their smartphones and that consumes so much bandwith that it slows down the internet. If only a few are looking a Youtube video, the system comes to a halt. Or you could not connect at all as so many people were using the available IP-adresses of the router. It was clearly better if there were few guests around.

If we look back at this wonderful trip, it is clearly that the Asian countries offer a formidable competition to the mature Western economies. We could witness that development on our trips so far Indonesia, Thailand, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and China/Hong Kong and Malaysia. They do almost everything as least as good as we do, not weighed down by the high minimum wages and expensive social security. There is an immense number of smart people on the lower part of the social ladder, willing to study and deliver quality. That spells no good for the future of the mature, Western economies. Long ago there was a western policy to get free trade, to open new markets for our products. Well, it appeared that WE became the markets for them, as in the production they do almost all better and cheaper. Of course the American and European industrial products are leading in certain sectors, but the Asians are working hard to get supremacy in these market segments as well. And they have patience and are long term planner. Now we have experienced that in the service sector as well they are second to none. The hotel business is great, even the airlines like Air Asia are second to note, and still improving. They manage to make money in these difficult markets. In these countries there is a wide range of incomes, from very poor to very rich. They seem to be happy with that is it is a strong incentive to improve yourself by studying and deliver quality. The world is changing fast and unless the western democracies can address this challenge, by drastically cutting back on welfare state and other expenses of the state and paying of our debts, our economies will never come out the present doldrums and crises. However, democracies are not the best form of government to enforce the required austerity, as voters just vote for those who promise the most. Watch out for the Asians! But if you cannot beat them, join them!

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