Monday, January 28, 2008


Stilt village; near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

My final morning in Malaysia, I took a cultural tour, and went to see a stilt village. Basically, the stilt village is one solution to the problem of living in a swampy area. You build on stilts, and then add on over the water as you need. The tour company evidently has prior arrangements with this household, and they welcome visitors and show them a typical house. Typical? Well, that's what they said.

You walk on a boardwalk of sorts to get to the house, and then take off your shoes to enter. And in you go. Inside, the entry is a living area, with some couches, then further in a table with some chairs, and a kitchen area, and then bedding areas to the side. And in front of the couches, a huge television. Really, I just about cracked up.

The host served us coffee, and I drank a sip to be polite, but it struck me, there I am, worrying about potable water and such in a house with a huge television. But, of course, no amount of money a single person could throw at the problem of water potability is going to solve it, but a fairly small bit (comparatively) gets you a tv.

It made me think of my weirdest television experience. Remember when MTV was new, and played music videos? Cable wasn't common among my college crowd, so I didn't see MTV while I was in college. But one day while I was in the Peace Corps, I had gone from my site to visit some other volunteers, which we did sometimes on weekends; it was a two hour bus ride, and anywhere else was pretty much a 4+ hour ride.

One of the guys there walked with me to the bus area, and I bought a ticket early to go home, and then we were going to have dinner in a restaurant not far from the bus area before I got on a night bus to go home. We were sitting in the restaurant, in the middle of a rain forest, open air, pretty much your fantasy of a South American rain forest town, and from the back of the restaurant come strains of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" song, you know.

K jumped up, and pulled me towards the back of the restaurant. We walked into the family quarters (he's friends), and sat on a BIG bed with about six kids, and watched Michael Jackson and his zombies scare the dickens out of his girlfriend. It was one of those things, there we were in the middle of no where, low tech land, watching this incredibly technically sophisticated music video with a bunch of kids on a bed.

Universal television.


  1. Anonymous5:22 AM

    awesome! my husband lived in malaysia (penang) for four years. I've enjoyed reading about your trip and i'm totally going to share this story with him.

  2. Anastasia, Oh cool! I didn't go to Penang; four/five days was way too short a visit, but it was the best I could do :)