August 10-23, 2012
Malaysians have said it best, their country is a bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live and work side by side. Multiculturalism has not only made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise, another of Malaysia's key attractions is its extreme contrasts. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts, and five-star hotels sit a few feet away from ancient reefs. Cool hideaways are found in the highlands that roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves. It is full of surprises, eclectic cultures and natural wonders.
Eric A. Jones, Ph.D.
An Associate Professor of Southeast Asian history in NIU's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and faculty associate with the Center for SOutheast Asian Studies, Professor Jones is an expert on Malaysian and Indonesian history and teaches courses on Southeast Asia and Asia. He is a fluent Malay speaker (among other languages) and has years of experience with the region including having lived in Malaysia and Indonesia. His recent book, Wives, Slaves, and Concubines: A History of the Female Underclass in Dutch Asia (2010), has received international acclaim in its examination of Dutch colonial practices in 18th century Batavia-Jakarta.
(subject to change)
Depart Chicago O'Hare August 10 - Arrive Kuala Lumpur August 12
Kuala Lumpur (KL)
August 12-13, 21-22
Being in Kuala Lumpur today feels a bit like living in the future the Jetson's promised and a bit like living in the US in '50s...with its mix of spaceship-like skyscrapers and unbridled optimism. The undeniable pulsing energy of this Asian capital where Malay, Chinese and Indian whirl together an unforgettable blend of food, culture and commerce. From KL, we'll also set out for the amazing Hindu pilgrimage site, the Batu Caves.
Put simply, Melaka is the reason Columbus got in a boat. Arguably the world's most important city in the 15th century, of this bustling hub of the Spice Trade it was said that "Whoever is lord of Melaka has his hand on the throat of Venice." Layer upon layer of Malay Islamic, Portuguese maritime, Dutch administrative and British colonial history appear around every corner of this well deserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. We'll take a river cruise, dine on the Straits of Melaka, and traipse through Indian holy sites, monumental Chinese temples and picturesque archaeological ruins.
On our way to the Highlands we will stop off at and even help look after some of the pachyderms at the elephant sanctuary, run by the Department of Wildlife to mediate encounters caused by the expansion of agriculture and the dwindling of wild elephant habitat. Nestled above the clouds of the Titiwangsa range is the paradisiacal glory of the Cameron Highlands. What the Malaysians refer to as 'chilly,' we refer to as a perfect climate as this mountain retreat is sprinkled with tea and vegetable plantations, fascinating indigenous peoples, rare flora and fauna (such as the Rafflesia)and stately colonial cottages.
Depart Kuala Lumpur August 22 - Arrive Chicago O'Hare August 23