I awoke at 5:30 this morning and felt ready for the day. All rooms of the house were occupied by sleepers, so the only thing to do of course was to walk up Melawati Hill. As I rambled up the hill, my thoughts seemed to do the same. I took an easy pace today and whereas on my last climb at a gunning pace my mind was very quiet, this was a more reflective walk. Upon starting the incline, the mournful sounds of the Islamic prayers seemed to begin also. It was as if they were tracking me and as I climbed higher, the sounds of different mosques seemed to fill the air from all directions. Good if you are Muslim, I thought. If not, is it just so much noise pollution in a city already overflowing with the stuff - air pollution, solid and liquid waste? My thoughts turned away from this to racial relations and it's difficult to get a feel for that issue here. People seem to live side by side without problems, but am I only experiencing the surface niceties? I don't know. People are very frank and seem to be intolerant in many ways of different religions/races in their speech. There's a commercial on television about Chinese New Year and of course all the major races are represented and promoting harmony. Some television stations seem to be trying very hard to be politically correct. For example, there is a shampoo advertisement which features I think a Chinese woman, an Indian woman and a Malay woman. Of course, you never actually see the Malay woman's hair! Cute.
I was really the only one up there at that time this morning, or so I thought. Just as I was thinking about these issues, not just in relation to Malaysia but in a general sense, I said good morning to some Chinese people already descending the hill as I approached the top. As they walked on I heard them talking about the "gweilo" they had just seen. Will we ever get past our differences as human beings and relate to each other from that part of us which is constant (should it exist)? Not in my lifetime. But perhaps one day.
One interesting observation - the higher I ascended, the more lofty my thoughts seemed to be whilst on the descent, my distractions were more of a mundane or pragmatic nature. Do we need to climb mountains to become more closely acquainted with our higher selves? I dunno. I'm just this guy writing a blog. That's all.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that I've been the butt of racial slurs during my entire stay in Malaysia. In fact, people have generally been very hospitable and I suppose it depends where you are. For example, I did seem to encounter more hostility in the touristy/backpacker areas.