Here is a snippet of travel writing, from a recent trip to Malaysia.

The Wonderfulness of Penang

A Mansion in Penang

There are many things to love about Penang.

Dare I mention the weather? All right, I won't.

I can tell you about the architecture - the centre of the city is now a World Heritage site and UNESCO money has meant that many buildings that were crumbling last time I was here have been restored to their former magnificence. There are mansions and museums and lovely old temples at every turn.

I can't resist telling you about the food. Because of the rich ethnic mix in the city, it is food heaven. Each culture is determined to demonstrate its culinary prowess, leaving the passing traveller (me) dithering at every meal. Should I have South Indian curry? A Malayan nasi lemak? Chinese noodles? Japanese sushi? Indonesian ... Thai ... Swiss ... Italian ...

The origin of all this gastronomic wonderfulness? It goes back to the East India company setting up a trading post here, and needing more workers than they could find in the indigenous Malay population and so attracting immigrants from India and China. Followed by workers from all over Asia, also looking to escape from poverty.

The result - a truly multicultural city that works. Chinese lanterns swing in one street; turn the corner and there's the sting of incense from a Hindi temple. Confucianism and Taoism sit comfortably alongside Buddha. There are imposing Christian churches. The muezzin can be heard at regular intervals all over the city. (The synagogue closed in 1976 - but I don't believe there is no Jewish street or two here, fitting in with the rest of us.) Some women wear full Islamic dress while others flop about in jeans and tee-shirts. There are men in suits and men in kurtas.

So why, in the west, are we making such a meal of living together? It can be done - Penang proves that. I know there may be undercurrents and I'm sure it's not sweetness and light all the time, but nothing that leads to fisticuffs.

People here don't live in fear. They respect each other's differences and traditions. We have much to learn from them.