Friday, 24 November 2017

The Curious Gifts At Galeria Perdana

Once you get past the typical, diplomatic gifts that fill the cases at Galeria Perdana, you start really to appreciate what people imagine a gift can be.

First up, a portrait of horses in needle point. It's a no-brainer gift.


Dolls are good, at least in traditional dress, good for the ethnographically inclined. What about plush toys with record length eyebrows?

Then the gifts start to drift in intent. Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on a vase - honor or horror?


Many gifts are muddied by business projects. A model of the building you hope to erect. The symbolic trowel, used to lay the first brick.

Maybe you're lobbying on behalf of a business organization. It sounds corny, but you want to show your appreciation....


Some no-nos. A decanter set, given to an alcohol abstaining Muslim. A mascot, looking a little too close to a racist stereotype.

Literally, silver slippers.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Typical (?) Gifts At Galeria Perdana

Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad and his wife, Siti Hasmah, received more gifts than one can imagine. Some 9,000 objects, give or take a large rounding error. Here's a ridiculously annotated look at some of the gifts.

There are plenty of typical items one would expect heads of states to re-gift to each other: your bowls, globes, pots of various significance.


Sometimes there's a nice ethnographic element to the gifts, a shout out to the giving country. Easter island dolls and, of particular pride for Sarah and James from their time in Chennai, India, a model of a famous sculpture from that city, Valluvar Kattam.

The intention and spirit of a gift can get a little murky when it's re-done in gems. Mecca.


The natural world is represented in flora and fauna.

About as regal a gift as possible, a jeweled crown.


Next up, sliding into more interesting, curious gifts.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Visiting The Overwhelming Galeria Perdana in Langkawi

Langkawi is a laid back tropical island in the Northern Malaysian state of Kedah that contains a massive museum created by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad. Although, he isn't from Langkawi, Mahathir does hail from Kedah.

Malaysia's fourth prime minister wanted to display the various multitudes of gifts, souvenirs, and awards he and his wife, Dr. Siti Hasmah, received from world leaders, foreign governments, regular Malaysians and others during his tenure. Since he was Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister - 22 years from 1981-2003 - well, that's a lot of gifts.

A lot. So many gifts that not all of them are on display at one time.

The over-sized gallery, disguised in traditional Asian architecture.


The gifts roll out quickly and endlessly in room after room. The building itself is impressive, grand galleries with fancy ceilings in the style of the best mosque design.

So many gifts to see. Don't worry, plenty more things will be shown in upcoming blog posts.


How much stuff? This expansive area is identified simply as the sword room. Wow. Here's a typical gaggle of gifts, under the theme of jade. You gotta start sorting somewhere.

The gifts keep getting bigger. Out back, a ship that didn't fit inside. Squint to see Sarah for scale.


Next up, a closer look at the enormous variety of gifts.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Langkawi Signs And Graffiti

There are some fun signs and a little graffiti in Langkawi, some hidden messages worth preserving here.

Graffiti is frowned upon in Malaysia. If you want your tag to last, best to project some sort of happy, positive message.


Well, maybe get political. Here's a famous quote from - and an image of - Mahathir bin Mohamad, the fourth and longest-serving of Malaysia's six prime ministers. Mahathir was prime minister for a remarkable 22 years (1981-2003) and is considered the father of modern Malaysia.  The quote appears be from 1999, but the political situation has grown more complicated since then and Mahathir, 92, is now an opposition leader.

Optimistic burger sign - Gunung means "mountain."


More graffiti, an innocent leaf and more positivity.

What's to say? A little bit of pure goodness on an auto gas flap.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Oohing And Eating At The Langkawi Night Market

Malaysia is filled with hawker stall food night markets, just let your growling stomach lead you to the nearest one. And Google Maps.

The sprint is on for that special satay!


What's everywhere? Fried chicken and anything on a stick.

Malaysians love fried chicken so much, they'll fry the feet.


Full meals in a clamshell are popular, sauce in a bag. Bag, good idea, let's put the whole meal in a bag!

So what stall is it going to be?

Monday, 13 November 2017

Crocodile Adventureland, Langkawi

Sarah and James can never resist a good reptile exhibit. They'll take a bad one, if available. Langkawi, Malaysia has a lovely croc park, plenty of pens, piles of reptiles.

Not your average pen, good graphics for a crocodile to morph into performance art.


A sweet throwback, a hand-painted welcome sign. A freaky juxtaposition, buy ticket, get skin product.

Baby croc, altered state.


How big can a croc get? After seeing this behemoth, you don't want to know. How's infinity? The place has a sense of humor.
Getting under water and up close. Almost sedate.


Turns out, Crocodile Adventureland really has a sense of humor. Or hates babies. It's a tough life, just ask Stumpy.

Heavy petting.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Walking Around Langkawi

Time for those timeless details of a foreign land. What's up Langkawi?

Subtle water buffalo.


Durian, the smelly fruit. So smelly that the "cut" durian in this image is made of plastic. Groomed nature.

Laundress.


Bridge to nowhere and a Chinese shrine.

Restaurant napkin holders.