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Thursday, March 22, 2007


Joys of Asia

One of the joys of being in Asia is the way my life is enriched by the many people I meet.

Back in KL for the first time in almost two years, this morning I returned for breakfast to the rice porridge bar just off Petaling Street. While I was eating my chicken rice porridge a man of about my age asked if he might share my table. He told me this place serves the best rice porridge in Malaysia and when he is in KL he chooses to stay at a hotel nearby for this reason. He suggested that next time I try the raw fish porridge that he was having. He has it with an extra plate of raw fish that he adds later. 'It's not really raw,' he said.

'No, I can see that it is cooked by the heat of the porridge.'

'And if you are worried about parasites, just take a shot of straight whisky or brandy when you get back to your room. It'll kill any parasites.'

My acquaintance introduced himself as Mr Sheu. He is a retired police inspector from Kota Kinabalu. He didn't tell me stories about his life as a policeman. Instead he spoke enthusiastically about his new career as a forestry consultant. He talked about the monocultural practice of growing oil palms. I know this is widespread in Malaysia. Look out the plane window as you fly over the country and you'll see these plantations almost endlessly.

Sheu wants to change all this. He talks enthusiastically about introducing other species into the plantations to create a more balanced environment. This will benefit the land, the global warming situation and, he hopes to convince the farmers, it can also be financially beneficial to them too.

More power to you my friend. I wish you well in your new career.

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