Jeremiah Rogers

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malaysia
Tue, Oct 21, 2014

A few pictures from today’s trip to the Chow Kit Wet Market in Kuala Lumpur. What a truly disgusting place. I know that food involves killing animals but I wasn’t ready to see so many dead animals in one place. Cow heads, cow hearts, lungs, and even just the skin of the cow was for sale. The butcher cutting a sheep’s head while a cow head sits out in the open was very graphic and intense to see.

Final picture is one of my friend Ella holding a baby kitten who we also found. A good way to cleanse your mind of the squeamish pictures here

Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Today I visited Little India in Kuala Lumpur for the first time. What a fascinating place. I got to see (and forgot to photograph) the whole town get ready for Deepavali later this week. There were women getting henna tattoos, men selling fireworks, and the whole of a nearby mall was decorated with flowers for the holiday.

Lunch was with one of my favorite travelers I’ve met so far. Her name is Ella and she’s from Switzerland but grew up partially in Italy. She speaks six languages, travels without a computer or a camera, and couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful Kuala Lumpur is, how she loves all of the multiethnic people here, and how she likes not even knowing what she’s eating. “I think this is liver” she said as she stuck some food on my plate.

The two pictures below are of my hostel roommate Ella who joined me for lunch and the food stand we ate from. I didn’t have the camera out to record the rest of the afternoon but wish I did.

Lunch in Kuala Lumpur ChinaTown. My plate, unfortunately not pictured, was 8 ringit for more than I could eat. That’s just under $3.

Ella, and Italian and Swiss girl I met today. I’m fascinated with her approach to travel and how much she notices at each turn.

Notably these are the first photos edited and posted entirely from an iPad. I sent the rest of my computer gear home and am going to try using only an iPad for the next few months. My hope is that it will make writing while moving around easier and will also encourage me to spend less time goofing off behind a screen. I’m using PhotoRaw for the raw development and Afterlight for finishing and color. I hope the colors better over time, but I like the flexibility of using only an iPad for production.

If you’re following along, this means I’m eating my words over all the hate about Apple lately. I still wish some things would change about the iPad but the interface is sublime for having a computer for just writing and just photo editing — an interface that makes it hard to get distracted into long programming or web browsing sessions. I’d also say that for most uses the iPad is the most ergonomic computer I’ve ever used.

Sun, Oct 19, 2014

I’m in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a few days to visit friends. If you haven’t been to KL it’s worth a quick visit, but I wouldn’t recommend spending more than perhaps three days here. I don’t like to say this but Kuala Lumpur (at least the core of the city) feels like culturally barren place full of shopping malls, hotels, and skyscrapers.

Out shopping in Kuala Lumpur.

Inside the enormous KLCC shopping mall at the base of the Petronas Towers.

It’s so hot here, and there’s so much traffic, that people often walk between buildings on air conditoned and elevated walkways. As a result most of the businesses are in shopping malls instead of the streets, which makes walking through the core of the city either a trip through a shopping mall or a long steamy walk outside where there might be 100 meters between you and the nearest business. In many ways it reminds me of part of Beijing or Northern Virginia.

Traffic in Kuala Lumpur.

Now there are a couple cool things to do here. The food is incredible quality and a very good deal price wise. Generally eat well for $2-3 per meal in the streets and up to

Street lunch in Kuala Lumpur. About $5.

The appeal of the street food is more than just eating it. I also like watching people cook it.

Cooking street food on the Jalan Alor street. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Outside of the city, the Batu Caves are almost an hour journey but let you see this stunningly large gold staute.

Gold statue outside the Batu Caves, Indonesia.

I also really like the design of the Petronas Towers, and this bit about how their floor plan is inspired by traditional islamic culture:

“The floor-plate of the Tower is designed based on geometric patterns common in architecture of Islamic heritage. It is composed of two rotated and superimposed squares with small circular infills. These geometric figures have been described by architects as symbolising unity, harmony, stability and rationality - all important principles of Islam.”

The Petronas Towers. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Note: These are older photos taken earlier in the year. I’ve been out hanging out with friends and having fun, not using the camera on this trip. They were originally featured in my May 2014 notes on malaysia.

Tue, Apr 29, 2014

Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown, Malaysia. Initial thoughts.

As I left San Francisco my friend Bryan gave me some timely advice: As soon as you leave a town the set changes. In my absence things keep moving forward and in my absence the niches I once filled get filled by someone new.

It’s tempting to look back on memories of San Francisco and wish to have it back. I miss the security of seeing the same people, visiting the same shops, and eating the same food. But it’s important to know that those are truly only memories now. San Francisco is not the town I left. Friends I never thought would meet each other recently went on their first date, my boss from my old job quit, and someone else now sleeps in my apartment. The set in San Francsico has already changed and it will keep going through random little changes completely independent of me. I’ll always be able to recognize it when I visit but San Francisco will be different when I go back.

In Japan the people dress mostly the same as the United States. There is so much Japanese influence in San Francsico that from first appearances Japan is not very exotic. That’s probably why my writing about Japan focused on the culture instead of the environment.

Malaysia is a shock compared to Japan. In Malaysia many more of the people look outwardly different than what I’m used to in the United States. It’s also a difficult place to be physically: there are few sidewalks, it’s very humid, and some people have been openly hostile. In Japan I never got a bad reaction when taking someone’s picture. In Penang, Malaysia I had a cabbie pull over to the side of the road, make me delete the picture, and tell at me me “I usually like white people but I hate you!”. Later I realized how creepy it must be to have someone take your picture while you’re driving them so I won’t take pictures of cabbies without permission anymore. We got out of the cab and walked the rest of the way.

One thing that has surprised me being on the road in the “developing” country of Malaysia is how much it can feel like home. When we capture photographs of countries we tend to capture what is different, not what’s the same. We edit those pictures to show the different aspects of the country and then we look at those photos for years. It can lead us to think that countries like Malaysia are stuck in the past and more different from home than they actually are.

Malaysia is not stuck in the past. I’m writing this from a cafe in Georgetown run by ethnically Chinese locals who have probably been here 2-3 generations. The cafe has all the comforts of a cafe in San Francisco: hipster drip coffee, wifi, and classy modern interior design with leather seats, succulents, and reclaimed wood. The people I’ve met in Malaysia sell crafts on Etsy and they put their photos on Instagram just like Americans and they shop at the same stores as Americans.

I’m trying to be conscious of tendencies for bias in reporting. I want to show you the Malaysia I am actually experiencing and not the one that’s in tourist books. It’s easy to show what looks different, but the unbiased truth is that this is a fairly modern country. The streets in Georgetown streets are dirty, the people eat at crazy outdoor markets and everything is very colorful. But Georgetown is a UNSECO World Heritage site intentionally stuck in the past as a tourist attraction. As far as intellectual and cultural development what else I’ve seen of Malaysia feels close to the western world.

Some things are bound to the past because they are hard to change. Some people here wear traditional clothing but you can see the younger generation already taking it off. The older houses look very different from the United States but new construction looks the same as the West.

Just like the set changes in San Francisco, the set keeps changing abroad. I’ve never been to Malaysia before but I think if I come back in 5 years I’ll notice another cultural shift. If I go back to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ten years after my last visit it won’t be the same town stuck in my photographs. Locals will be Instagramming, Etsying, and VSCOing their way through life just like we are in the United States.