We had a long weekend last week, so we headed north to tiny Perlis, Peninsular Malaysia's most north-western state, bordering Thailand. It's also one of my favourites simply because it is stunningly beautiful.
Above: Imagine yourself standing there listening to the calls of the White-handed Gibbons (they sound as if they are whooping up a football victory), while overhead two Crested Serpent Eagles display in courtship ritual and a troop of Dusky Langurs watch, their white spectacled faces making them look cross-eyed...
Above: You can shop cheaply if that's your wish, buying their rice and fish products...
Or just enjoy the vistas of limestone outcrops, rainforest, ricefields and plantations (teak and rubber and oilpalm)
Above: Lake Timah-Tasoh (artificial)
There is nothing quite as brightly green and fresh as newly-planted rice. It's such a vivid paintbox green...
And alas, there are also signs that even here there are the thieves and robbers that so blight Malaysia. Below, the brass(?) plate that once adorned this viewpoint to indicate what you are looking at is missing.
These metal thefts are beyond a joke. They cost the government millions of dollars -- thieves have stolen metal from pylons causing them to fall, from electric sub-stations with obvious power outages; they've stolen guard railings, ornamental fences, lamposts, and anything they can lay their greedy little hands on.
For us, also last week, this almost had a dreadful result. They stole the drainage grating in front of our gate. My husband fell into the hole. He is seventy and the result could have been ghastly, especially as the drain is well over a metre deep. Fortunately, he sustained no more than a severely bruised and skinned and bloodied knee, not to mention a ruined suit.
Did we report it? No. Everyone knows that would be a pointless exercise -- no police station would take it seriously. A pity really. If all the other five million or so people (my conservative estimate) who have all lost gates, drain covers, and other small metal fixtures actually bothered to report the thefts, maybe the authorities would take these thefts seriously. How difficult is it to raid the metal yards and take a look at what they have that they have no explanation for? How many people have they killed so far by stealing the things that keep us safe? When do Malaysians say enough is enough?