Friday, January 2, 2009

What I read...

After lurking for several years online, I have begun to post comments to various blogs and online forums.

If you are interested in teaching overseas, especially Southeast Asia, I highly recommend checking out Dave's ESL Cafe ( which contains a variety of forums regarding living, working, and surviving in the TESL/TEFL/TESOL world. I myself am not an English teacher, but the forums are useful for anyone really, who lives and works outside their home country (the definition of an expatriate).

Another site of great usefulness is the Stickman Bangkok site (, which started out as a site to describe the notorious nightlife in Bangkok, Thailand, but has become a good overview for living and working in SE Asia, including the difficulty of cross-cultural relationships.

There are other good forums and blogs, I am sure, but I don't have any other favorites at this point. Occasionally, I will add links which I find useful.

Like many North Americans, I was not very aware of Malaysia until I was older and happened to meet a Malaysian Chinese lady who was studying at a university in my hometown. My wife and I spent some time with her and were invited to visit her family in Malaysia. We did so, in 1992, and afterwards did some research on the country.

An excellent overview, at least during the colonial period, is Anthony Burgess's The Long Day Wanes: The Malayan Triology. This book has three stories, Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket, and Beds in the East, and basically describes British residents behaving badly during the waning days of the British administration of Malaya.

The story Time for a Tiger made the local brew Tiger Beer famous, although it is a fairly middle-of-the-road lager. The protagonist, Nabby Adams, is your typical lager lout who opens the trilogy in a drunken state.

Another introduction to Malaysia were the movies A Town Like Alice (1981) and The Killing Beach (1992). A Town Like Alice tells a love story about an Australian prisoner-of-war and the British lady that he meets in the midst of the Japanese occupation of Malaya. Shot partly in Malaysia, it shows the reality of living in a tropical climate -the heat and humidity- and also gives an introduction to Malay life in a small east coast village (kampung). In reality, the story was based upon the true account of some Dutch prisoners-of-war in Sumatra during World War II. (

The Killing Beach tells the story of an Australian journalist (played by the wonderful Gretta Scacchi) who tries to report on the violence attended on Vietnamese boat refugees. It was controversial in Malaysia and not shown in local theatres. (

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