Blogs are so unrealistic.
Throughout this trip (right now we’re on day 22), Kyla and I have kept saying: “I wish we could share this with [this person] and [that person] and [those guys].” If we could pay to have every single one of you come out for a weekend for drinks and to try Durian (only after a few drinks would you even dare), we would. The sights, the smells, the eerie chills we get sometimes… it’s too much for two awkward white girls.
That being said, it’s been hard to sum up everything online. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I get my Internet either at work or in the courtyard of my apartment (which is often filled with tons of Malay singing and squash playing).
Where to start?
The culture shock has subsided, and I think we’re finally learning to love Malaysia.
Work has been phenomenal. I always say I went into this adventure without any expectations, but obviously there were expectations. And so far, office life in KL has exceeded them. Everyone’s down-to-earth and willing to lend us stuff for our apartment (including legit chopsticks), we play footsal every week with a couple other NGOs, and we’re planning on doing a karaoke night – private box and all.
But… trying to be an authentic local is tough. Especially when you walk to and from work every day to the Monorail station and get harassed by “teksi” drivers.
“No thanks, I live here.”
“Ahh you at least wanna go KFC?”
KFC is huge here, by the way. And they love putting egg on everything (egg, anchovies, and chicken are part of the popular Malay dish, Nasi Lemak). Solving the evolutionary debate, you can have your chicken and eat your egg too.
And, being a white girl from North America, they assume you are the queen of KFC.
Point form lists help me collect my scattered thoughts, and they’re easy to read. Let’s do this.
What’s we’ve learned from our trip so far (pt. 2):
– Trust people’s cores. Not all strangers are bad. And the bad ones? Well, they’re pretty easy to figure out. Cab driver who gives you a ride for free and wants to buy “two pretty girls breakfast, lunch, and dinner”… questionable. A suave couple you meet at the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra? Yeah, they’ll buy you crab and rounds of Tiger after the show and won’t kidnap you. Still, it’s good to keep up our fall-back story. I’m Anna, she’s Rachel, and we’re student volunteers from Vancouver.
– Free orchestra tickets are actually really cool because you sit with older people and appear cultured/esteemed/fancy/like a diplomat’s daughter. No matter how you dress us up, we’ll always feel like Mary-Kate and Ashley.
– Batu Caves is breath-taking. Doing a cave tour, sometimes in complete darkness, and crossing paths with the famous Malaysian centipede makes you stronger.
– Malaysian men will never give up. “God bless you, I love you, I wanna…” well, yeah. Accompanied by smooching/grunting/horse noises, it’s a real treat.
– Dancing and drinking in flash flood weather is pure joy. This happened to us in Melaka (or Malacca in English), where everyone came together to sing “Hey Jude.” The term “everyone” extends from a middle-aged Dutch woman to a flamboyant male Asian dancer.
– Bring toilet paper with you to the bar.
Last weekend, Kyla and I took a trip to Melaka, also known as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The Portuguese and the Dutch fought over this trading port, but we all know how that ended – with British rule like anywhere else in the world.
As we’ve found in Asia, the culture is a bizarre mix of Old and New; Tradition and Modernization. You have the gorgeous ruins of Porta de Santiago, then right next door it’s an Angry Birds balloon for sale! Of course. Those darn birds destroyed the fort way back when. (Sarcasm is also something that doesn’t translate well, we’ve learned.)
One of our favourite sights was Pulau Besar, a secluded island known for its supernatural folklore. Our co-workers told us that the locals are generally terrified to step foot on it.
Guess we aren’t your average locals.
Oh, and I may have gotten married on that island. I’m not sure, but a 20-something Indian man and his family were giggling, politely asking to take pictures of him with me. What these pictures are to be used for, that’s another story that I never want to find out.
When Kyla and I went into a local t-shirt shop by Melaka artist Charles Cham, there was one design that stood out.
“No photos please.”
Needless to say, snagged it and wear that baby proudly.
So our adventures keep getting more bizarre, but we’re comfortably uncomfortable. On the horizon this week: buying a ukulele from Batu Caves, discovering some local shows or art, and more footsal in 34 skin-shedding degrees.
Also, my first column for London Community News should be out soon (probably this week)! I’ll make a post about that when it goes live.