Russians are ready to visit Malaysia again

NEWS that after the successful tourism bubble pilot programme, Malaysian authorities are working on allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists to visit Langkawi was received in Russia with great interest.

This is understandable because before the pandemic, the island was a popular destination among Russians. In fact, it has been that way since the 1970s when the island became a favourite vacation spot for Malaysians and foreigners.

I remember visiting the island in 1971 with my Malaysian friends, students of University of Malaya. We arrived on the island by ferry and the town of Kuah then was more like a village, in which there was only one taxi.

We spent the night at the house of a relative of one of my friends, who was a teacher at a local school. The next morning we took this only taxi to Tanjung Rhu, asking the taxi driver to fetch us in the afternoon.

We were alone on the entire beach and were able to enjoy the wonderful views, the sun and the sea. I believe I was the first Russian on the island, ahead of even the Russian ambassador, who arrived there later than me.

Even then, in the absence of tourism infrastructure, the island was unique.

Now my Moscow friends, who used to visit Langkawi, spoke with delight about sandy beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, caves and the Mahsuri legend. They admired the hospitality of Malaysians.

Recently, the minister-counsellor at the Malaysian embassy, Johan Ariff Abdul Razak, told me that great interest about Malaysia was generated after the embassy organised an exhibition at an international school in Moscow.

I also decided to ignite the desire of Russians to travel to Malaysia by publishing the book Malaysia — Truly Asia with many illustrations. I understand the book is selling well.

A member of the Union of Journalists of Russia, Tatyana Firsova, in her review, titled, "Don't put durian in your suitcase", notes: "It is almost a riddle. Which country is located at the strait connecting the two oceans, the Indian and Pacific? No, this is quite simple for those who at least occasionally look at the map of the world.

"The question gets more complicated. Who are 'Baba Nyonya'? Is every 'Baba Nyonya' peranakan or vice versa, is every peranakan a 'Baba Nyonya'? Of course we are talking about Malaysia.

"Or else 'truly Asia or Asia in miniature'. And about who these 'Baba Nyonya' are, Dr Victor A. Pogadaev, a noted Russian orientalist, will tell more and much better. In addition to his previously published books, research papers, dictionaries and publications in Russian and foreign press, he recently has written a new book, Malaysia —Truly Asia.

"Malaysia was the first country visited by the author, while still a student at the Institute of Oriental Languages ​​at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Five decades ago, as part of the first group of Russian students, he was lucky enough to go for an internship in Malay language at the University of Malaya.

"Many years later he became one of the lecturers at this university. The first youthful memories of penetrating the world of Malaysia, tested after years by the experience of an adult researcher, gave an excellent result and helped write a book that can be called a declaration of love for the country."

I hope that Russians, after reading my book, will want to visit Malaysia.

There remains a small issue to be resolved: admitting persons inoculated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which is recognised by more than 40 countries, including Indonesia.

The writer, writing from Russia, was a former lecturer of Universiti Malaya

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories