I am currently reading a book called ‘a short history of everything’ by Bill Bryson. It is essentially, a short history of everything (obviously) and one of the things it touched on was the beginning of time and just how our earth and indeed us, came to be. Scientists argue that there is an explanation for how the world came to be and that is via a mixture of a few gases, a vacuum and not an explosion, but an immediate expansion into what we now know is earth. Over time shit happened and suddenly life formed and the earth was a done deal. The reality is that it is simply impossible to prove the Big Bang, but that is all down to a balance of probabilities and that really, is the best we can come up with. Far more realistic in fact than the story of some bloke with a beard creating the world in six days and then chilling out on the seventh. Who then decided to spawn a kid in Mary and that Joseph never smelt something dodgy and never figured something was rotten in Denmark when Mary gave birth to Jesus in a barn.
Now I have to be honest, the fellas that wrote the bible did a splendid job, they wrote not just a New York Times best seller but a book that would resonate with everyone that read it. But they missed a few details that would invariably catch up with them in history. And so those gaps have been filled with other forums of religion and when you throw into the fray science you have developed a huge question mark and portions of society who all seem to have the answer. But, as unlikely as it may seem that that one bloke created the world it is as unlikely that a few gases imploded one day and spawned an earth. Every part of every living thing defies everything we know to be possible and though many scientists would argue differently, we simply do not know how we got here, or whether Darwin has nailed it, or whether we did stem from a mischievous couple as the bible would lead us to believe.
I often get asked what religion I am, and the council – estate – ooyaah in me is inclined to answer in a butch ‘mam and dad tattoo styled prose’ “Church of England” which really is as good as saying “nuthink” or “nofin” as my accent would have you hear. I actually always answer “none” and thats the truth, and its not that I don’t have a religion, its just that I’ve not settled on quite what I believe. I mean, I am quite scientifically driven, but I doubt the Big Bang in that I think it is just a long winded way of saying “science doesn’t know” and I doubt religion because I cant see how an all loving higher being can let such innocent suffering go on.
But the point I am slowly getting to is that we live in a world that it is often so damn beautiful that you cannot believe it has all just occurred courtesy of a very convenient and timely bang. I mean seriously, was space really just cruising along and then all of a sudden “bang” the world appeared, a newt crawled out from the sea and then a dinosaur popped its head up, it got cold, everything died and then a crusty and hairy looking fella peered out from a cave and evolved into Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Anyway, Malaysia is one of those countries that has you doubt science. It is beautiful in a way words cannot describe and is perhaps the best all rounder in Asia, it really does have everything, but being a modern country is also offers a traveller things which other countries cannot afford such as safety, hygiene and infrastructure. It markets itself as ‘truly Asia’ and its difficult to disagree, just look at any image of Langkawi and you will instantly be blown away by such natural beauty (we have been, it is amazing) and then look at all the islands (of which there are hundreds) and some of the best beaches in the region. Add to that Borneo, and you will find that Malaysia is not just one of the best countries in the region, it is also one of the most beautiful.
That is until you get to Johor Bahru. Picture this, you are sat in the office and draping the wall is a gorgeous A3 sized poster of a tropical country rich with rainforest, wildlife, beaches and surrounded by perfect and pristine white sand beaches licked with turquoise seas. As you sit drifting away into paradise you pick your left nostril and out falls a bogey (we’ve all been there) Bogeys are sticky little things and they need a bit of rolling encouragement to free themselves from the epidermis of the index finger. You decide this works best with an added power flick and then splat – The bogey lands on the poster, gravity has of course played its part in extending the edges somewhat.
That is Johor Bahru, a skid mark in paradise. A real shit flick of a city that I am convinced is so bad that no one wishes to lay claim.
Straddling the far south of Malaysia, it is the jumping off point for Singapore and was perhaps once joined to Singapore until even Mother Nature wanted rid and probably had a quick earthquake to create a distance.
I am half convinced JB (as it is known by those reluctant to admit where they are from) is actually a test city to see just how far backwards you can push a human before they chip.
It is impossible to walk as every road is practically a freeway, those that aren’t have pavements built a hundred years ago and so are now in a complete state of disrepair.
The cities malls are filled with empty stores and believe it or not, the main mall has not a single ATM.
Taxi drivers epitomise scumbags, they are the most dishonest of any we have ever encountered and though the law says a meter must be used it is impossible to get one to be used. They always drive the long way around and add extras for everything you could imagine. Due to the incomprehensible and illogical way JB has been designed you must constantly make u turns, and of course the driver will always make the wrong, or long u turn.
5 star hotels were maybe once such a rating but are now cockroach riddled mini beast habitats with herpes thrown in for free on Fridays. The buses are relics which continue daily to defy mechanical physics in their persisted operation.
Though I have digressed, the issue in point is that though sometimes you refuse to believe something natural could have created the beauty that lay before you. Likewise, sometimes its hard to believe that some little dick head on Job Seekers allowance with an hour free didn’t create such a shit place. I am not joking, cruise through Singapore and be in some Total Recall style city where everything clicks with a slickness and sterility that makes you want to wipe your feet on the way in, yet get to JB and its like a smack in the face off fat Mick. Travelling in the opposite direction is a bit like winning the lottery and being dragged from the reaches of poverty. Its akin to some little sket straight out of a council run rehab walking into the Ritz with a free minibar for life. I am serious, the disparity between Singapore and JB is deafening (if disparity could make you deaf) and as I sit here now my inner hormone fuelled subconscious cannot even muster porn tash in recognition of just how shit this place is.
Johor Bahru is easily one of the most illogical, garbage, spunk stain places we have ever been and it has convinced me quite comprehensively that we must relocate to Singapore, which, is the first thing on my agenda.