Malaysian meanderings – The Property Chronicle
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Malaysian meanderings

The Guest Essay

Hoteliers from Venice to Malaysia are paying a heavy price as their guest rooms languish emptily, but the locals can at least enjoy the return of some serenity.

‘What news on the Rialto?’ asks a character in The Merchant of Venice. As ever, Shakespeare plunges his audience into the central marketplace of the action, where the gossip is richest as merchants swirl among storekeepers and citizens. What news indeed, now that Venice lies bobbing once more on the lido, unhindered by the weight of tens of thousands of tourists, no longer rocked by cruise ships designed for oceanic wandering rather than paddling-pool mooring.

Well might Antonio rue the day that he put all his merchant eggs into shipping, as one by one news comes in of shipwrecks, founderings and general disasters; I’m sure he would sympathise with the resort-owners here in Tioman, an island off Malaysia’s eastern coast, who having ploughed substantial investments into glitzy high-end projects must now sit and watch the palms grow thick as their buildings lie empty.

On Tioman, the shoreline is dotted in places with sumptuous shells of hotels. Some have (to borrow a neat Glaswegian phrase) ‘gone on fire’ in mysteriously catastrophic blazes that have reduced them to charred ruins. Others lie half-complete, as concrete balconies stare out across the ocean from above unglazed rooms and unfinished jetties. It seems that the larger the project the bigger the fall, with one timeshare extravaganza holding the most spectacular of peninsular situations utterly abandoned; it sits there in all its glory, mocked by the passing fish eagles and lapped by the coral reefs of the South China Sea.

The Guest Essay

About Paul Lowden

Paul Lowden

Paul Lowden managed to spin out his time at Durham University to encompass two degrees before embarking on a 30+ year career teaching English in the UK and also in Sydney. He enjoys walking the wilds of Sutherland and the rolling Downs of Sussex as well as sampling the cleansing ales of local inns. He is currently re-inventing himself as a poet in tropical Malaysia where his wife is currently based.

Articles by Paul Lowden

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