A French Island in Eastern Caribbean

The sun putting on a performance...

This is the third time I was lucky enough to experience the Caribbean. Like the other two islands I have been to, Martinique stands out on its own. The weather above Martinique is however erratic. This coming from a Malaysian boy who spent his entire life under crazy weather. Nevertheless, Martinique holds the record for showering on me in consecutive times. 7 in the short space of 2 hours. All that rain while the sun is shinning and people sunbathing.

 

Typical of a Caribbean island, the beach here is from a cliché holiday postcard. White sands, blue skies and clear waters to soothe the soul and quiet the mind. The locals are friendly but spot a sophisticated air in the way only French people know how. They don’t call this spot the French West Indies for nothing. Having only a rudimentary grasp of the language makes it hard for me to interact with my host but after travelling for so long, I have mastered body language. Being able to imitate animal noises with some flair also helps a lot when ordering.

 

Despite the language differences, Martinique is an example why the Caribbean will always be at the top end of people’s escape list. Why?

As I write this, the sun has decided to set. I sit on my beach towel marveling at the orange streaks that sears the sky and sets it on fire. A cool breeze blows by cooling and refreshing. The air is thick with salt but nevertheless a whiff of charred grilled fish floats down to my spot. As I hear the waves crashing into the rock in a soothing rhythm meant for the ages, I can’t help but wonder whether heaven is maybe an island somewhere in the Caribbean…

Kingdom of Faith

When tradition meets modernization...

Riyadh as a city displays conflicting emotions that hits you the minute you walk out of the airport. Like all faithful today, it is a character assaulted by a world of skeptics who are embolden by science and technology. On one hand you discern a city jealously holding on to its roots. Strong in its belief and unbending when it comes to faith. Look the other way and you have a city bursting at the seams trying to reel in a flood of commercialization and technology which accompanies progress. For now tradition rules with an iron fist but as I see the number of new sky scrapers reflecting the setting sun, I sense changing winds. Add in a massive legion of foreign labor, I can feel a culture rapidly evolving.

 

Thus Riyadh is a stereotypical split personality. Like most of us, it is trying to balance a strict upbringing with the influence of the new world. Only time will tell which way Riyadh and Saudi Arabia as a whole will move. Will it embrace progress, dig deeper into its traditions or will it be the few who master the difficult balance between the two forces…