The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson


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Malaysia K.Lumpur

The arrow points to Kuala Lumpur

6 November 1968
Dear Everyone~

HERE BEGINNETH … the last epistle in the serialized saga of my current hajj—or at least of this phase of same. As of this moment I am still in Kuala Lumpur. My first day here I took in the National Museum and a bit of driving around. I confess that a few days ago, as I was gazing from the train window at a stretch of wilderness between Kota Bharu & Kuala Lipis, I was seized by a strong impulse to step off the train at the next halt, buy a few necessities and proceed to hack out a space for myself in the jungle & just “stay awhile”. Having now seen the excellent displays of wildlife at the National Museum, I’m just as glad I did not take that wild step! There is not only an abundance of flora in the jungle—there’s quite a lot of fauna, too, some of it quite unwholesome for the casual visitor. Perhaps the ugliest—though harmless—is the Rhinoceros Beetle, which occurs in species up to several inches in length. Various serpents, some poisonous; myriad other beetles & insects; cicadas (the noise-makers of the jungle); rodents; cats; pigs; wild “goats”; so forth and so on—all very interesting to view on display but potentially less interesting to encounter in the rough. But the museum is an excellent one, quite new and not entirely completed, but worth several hours of careful study. And yesterday I visited the zoo, really one of the world’s finest. It is situated about 10 miles out of town, in a wonderful natural setting; the animals are both well cared-for and well displayed, with a lot of birds. Lo, even the sulphur-crested Cockatoos in Malaysia speak english (“hello”)! Quite a large number of animals I’d never seen, and whole flocks of very tame pea-fowl, which I enjoy seeing everywhere I find them.

K. L. Zoo

Admission to the Kuala Lumpur zoo


Colorful Cassowary, flightless bird


Tapirs: I'd never seen one before


Possibly a Komodo Dragon?

Scarlet Macaws

Scarlet Macaws: noisy birds!

Just a few of the many animals at the K. L. Zoo

I also took in Batu Caves (only mildly interesting, as it turned out) and more “drive-seeing”. Today, with a guide most courteously provided by this otherwise insignificant hotel, I motored about in Petaling Jaya, a wholly new “planned” city, residential & industrial area adjacent to K. L.; drove through the very lovely Malaysian University grounds and past the adjacent hospital that rivals in size at least the UC Med Center in SF; visited some very pleasant friends of the guide; visited the National Monument, the Stadium, & the National Mosque. This latter is one of half a dozen very new and very modern mosques that I’ve seen built in recent years by the Federal Government; this one cost $MR52,000,000 (!!) and it shows. Besides being huge, the architecture is quite fascinating, since all the traditional concepts are present, only the “feeling” being brought very much up-to-date. Malaysia is endowed with endless amounts of raw material for cement, and they do some very interesting things with it—they also build new homes, floor, walls, roof, all cement, as it is one of the cheapest building materials available.
Batu Caves

Previously misidentified as 1000 Buddhas

I think this is Batu Caves.

Nat Mosque 1

At the National Mosque

Nat Mosque 2

Minaret of the National Mosque

The extent of my artistic ability: I tilted the camera!!

Plan to depart Friday AM for Jeremban & Malacca, where I expect I’ll spend Saturday & quite possibly Sunday. Latest news tonight has Humph about 2% ahead of Nix, though AM reports showed Nix ahead. Should know the final results (if conclusive) tomorrow. Not much word on Wallace, who, at last account, expected confidently to carry 36 states. I can’t make up my mind whether people like Wallace strengthen our political system or make a travesty of it—in either case he certainly argues convincingly for tightening up the requirements for presidential candidates (but so, as far as I am concerned, do both H & N!!). Tomorrow I should know which man will be leading the next four years of “old style” mis-guided american policies.

I read a startling statistic the other day, which, though it referred to Singapore specifically, applies to nearly all the Asian countries I’ve visited: in 1966, more than half the (Singapore) population was under 19 years of age (the situation can’t be too far different today). This may help explain the “Youth Worship” I noticed in Thailand, but it certainly raises some knotty employment & political problems—problems that, so far as I can ascertain, are being most rationally met & dealt with by the young & dynamic government of Singapore, less so here, & certainly less so in Thailand. From what I see here & gather from local sources, the image I have of Singapore (doubtless gained from Compton’s Encyclopedia of 20 years ago) certainly no longer is valid; evidently even presumably enlightened personages like Senator McCarthy aren’t too much more up-to-date (judging by some of his remarks about VietNam) in their image, which I should think would be a serious handicap to anyone actually having to deal with this part of the world. The notion that Asia is still undeveloped (or even under-developed) which seems prevalent in america is both wrong and thoroughly misguiding to makers of policy.

Next AM  (7 Nov. 1968)

So it is to be Mr. Nixon after all; “LBJ’s “Eleanor Roosevelt'” didn’t quite make it, though it must be hard to lose (or win, for that matter) by such a slim margin. Today’s Straits Times contains a few interesting items, particularly the editorial which is both fair and quite accurate—and hardly very encouraging! It is interesting to note that Mr. N has become president despite the fact that more people voted against him than for him!!

BACKSTORY:  For the first (and only) time on this trip, I found myself both lonely and home-sick. I sat on a lovely grassy area below the Mosque: there were people all around, enjoying the fine weather; families, mostly, and some “lone wolves”, but not a soul paid any attention whatever to me. I gave up after an hour or so, and as night fell, went back to my hotel alone. There, working the desk, was a really good-looking fellow, who was friendly and charming: I would love to have invited him “up to see my etchings”—I even found out when his shift was over—but he was at some pains to make it clear he had a family to go home to. Rats! Another night alone with Rosie Palm. I decided to depart K. L. the next day.
Skyscraper in K. L.

Tallest building in Kuala Lumpur

K.L. now has the Petronas Towers, only recently topped for tallest in the world (by that thing in Dubai).

Coming up: I move on to Malacca. Better luck there!



Written by Editor

February 4th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Malaysia,Politics