Tag - states

Eastern Malaysia

Eastern Malaysia
Eastern Malaysia
Eastern Malaysia is divided from Central and northern Malaysia by the South China Sea. East Malaysia consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, which are located on the island of Borneo, as well as the Federal Territory of Labuan, which lies off coast of Sabah. Although less populated than Peninsular Malaysia or West Malaysia, East Malaysia is much larger and contains more of the country’s natural resources.

Most visitors to Malaysia tend to head straight to East Malaysia to enjoy adventure activities such as trekking, caving, white water rafting and camping. There are a number of spectacularly beautiful national parks in this region of Malaysia such as Kubah National Park and Bako National Park.

East Malaysia is home to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, and thousands of people come here each year to interact with the old men of the forest. There are a number of beautiful beaches and islands to discover in this region of Malaysia as well as pretty towns to explore.

The people of East Malaysia are warm and welcoming and visiting the region’s villages is a rewarding experience. This region is famous for its diverse cuisine, and top of the menu is fresh fish, which is especially delicious when eaten on the beach at sunset.

Location and History of Malaysia

Location and History of Malaysia
Location and History of Malaysia
Location and History of Malaysia
Covering 329,847 square kilometres, Malaysia is situated in Southeast Asia and is bordered by Thailand, to the north, Indonesia and Singapore to the south, and Brunei and the Philippines to the east. Malaysia is divided into two separate land masses – known as Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo - by the South China Sea.

Malaysia has a tropical climate, with a hot summer and intense rainy season. With forest and mountain ranges running through the country from north to south, there are mangrove swamps and mudflats on the west coast, which separate into bays and inlets. There are a number of beautiful beaches on the west coast as well as dense forests to explore.

Malaysia’s modern history dates back to the 2nd century AD, when there were a collection of up to 30 separate Malay kingdoms. The Malay kingdoms gained power and riches as costal city ports, which were established in the 10th century. Originally Hindu or Buddhist states, Islamic found a place in Malaysia in the 14th century.

The Sultanate of Malacca was established at the start of the 15th century by prince Parameswara, from Palembang, who fled to the area from what is now known as Singapore. Prince Parameswara turned Malacca into an important trading port, putting Malaysia firmly on the map. However, Malacca was conquered by Portugal in 1511 and a Portuguese colony was established there.

In 1786 Britain established a colony in the Malay Peninsula, with the British East India Company leasing the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty was signed in 1824, which divided the Malaya archipelago between Britain and the Netherlands.

Although there were Malaysian figureheads, the British mostly ruled Malaysia until the Japanese occupation during WWII. The Federation of Malaya was established in 1948, which reinstated the independence of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.

From 1948 to 1960 the Communist Party of Malaya embarked on a guerrilla campaign known as the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960 to force the British out of Malaya. Independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was finally granted on 31 August 1957, and the Federation was renamed Malaysia in 1963.

At first there was much fighting with Indonesia over boundary lines, culmination in the racial riots of 1969. The New Economic Policy was established to restore peace to the country and since then Malaysia’s various ethnic groups have lived more or less in harmony.  

These days Malaysia’s economic and social structures are good and the country’s affluence can be seen in modern structures such as Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers and the Sepang F1 Circuit.

Leuk Krueng

Tata YoungFor those of you who don't know, a "Leuk Krueng" is someone of mixed heritage. Famous Leuk Kruengs include Tiger Woods, Tata Young (American/Thai), and David Usher.

(American/Thai), (Canadian/Thai). My mother is Thai and my father is American, so I seem to fit the bill. I was born in the States and grew up in various countries around the world, and although we spent many holidays in Thailand, I never really lived here. I was brought up going to American schools and speaking English with everyone except my mother. After having lived in many countries, including the US, and nearing my 30th birthday, I decided to embrace my inner Thai-ness and move to Thailand for a while. I've been here a year now and it's taken me that long to really feel at home, although I loved it here pretty much from the first day.

When I was a child, I actually hated Thailand, and for a short time as a teenager I even hated being half Thai. It probably began with not being allowed to go out with my young cousins to the market, since my mother was afraid of me getting kidnapped since I was so white. I wasn't allowed to eat the same foods as the other kids either, since my Western stomach couldn't handle it. The joy of being so pale though, was that I was my grandmother's favourite grandchild. Of course, the downside to this was intense jealousy from my cousins, who liked to call me "farang kee-nok"  (farang bird poop because of my skin colour).

Fortunately, some of the other kids living nearby didn't seem to care, so I had playmates anyway. But, as we grew up, I was no longer allowed to play with them on my holidays because we were all settling into our class roles and they were not of my class. This was all back in the day when there were no bilingual schools and I felt like I was the only leuk krueng in the world.
On holidays to Thailand I spent a lot of time digging in the yard for chik-goong (crickets) to eat, picking the ticks off the six guard dogs, and tying strings to dead scorpions and throwing them at the maids. It was always fun to go out to eat and have my mother try to force me to suck the eyeballs out of the fish to improve my brain. My father was often mediator in these situations, and I think every mixed-heritage kid needs that kind of balance.
Growing up in an American society, although not always living in the US, it was at times strange having an Asian mother. Looking back though, I can see that I was incredibly fortunate. Thais are very concerned about their families and it's a beautiful trait that you don't find so much in America. My mother was at every single school event I ever had and baked treats for me to take to class often. I was the envy of my classmates for her dedication and my birthday parties were especially fun and clever events. Even though she wasn't that great at English herself, she taught me to read in English before I even went to school. 
It was really wonderful to grow up bilingual. My mother tells me that I kept speaking a mix of Thai and English in kindergarten and really frightened the teacher until she found out I was bilingual. Many Thais who marry foreigners stop speaking Thai and I think it really puts kids at a disadvantage. I am so happy I can speak Thai now that I live here, and only wish that I had learned to read and write as well.
Growing up, there were small arguments about how a nice Thai girl should act and how I acted too American. Since I'm very fair-skinned I fit into the Western world better. Even now, in Thailand, people speak English to me before they speak Thai. Sometimes I get the Thai price and sometimes I end up paying the farang price but that's okay. It's interesting how in Thailand I've had people ask to have their photo taken with me, while in America I've been called a "gook" more times than I can count.
I recently went to our family reunion and there were 300 people I had never seen in my life there. Everyone was really nice and the oldest members of the family sat in a line and sprinkled water on everyone else for blessings. You can see that Thai people really care about their families. Since I've been here, my family has taken care of every need I've had, from taking me to get my drivers license to sending bowls of food over to the house that they gave me to live in. I know people in America whose families won't even let them stay over when they visit!
My father loves the Thai family structure. He comes from a typical American family where no one speaks to each other anymore except when they want to borrow money from him. Here my mother's family treats him like one of their own, even though he still doesn't speak Thai after 35 years. I think he's happy to know that he doesn't have a typical American kid that's going to leave him in a nursing home when he gets old.
Being a leuk krueng is really great. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. Although I am still learning about Thailand, I grow to love it more each day and to feel genuinely patriotic about the country. I'm not ashamed to admit, Thailand makes a great national anthem, and at the movies it makes me cry with pride every time. I actually feel closer to Thailand after one year of living here than in the ten or so years combined that I lived in America. I am annoyed when America bullies my new home and sometimes I am even embarrassed to be half American - my how things change.
Thai people have a unique spirit that I am so proud to be a part of. I dont feel like I'm half of two things anymore, but instead, I am two wholes. It's no wonder I ended up marrying another leuk krueng of sorts South African/British. We joke about how we unite four continents. It really would be great though, if the world kept on mixing.