Monthly Archives: September 2013

From Singapore to Malaysia: Culture Shock

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From here:

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To here:

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The moment I landed at the airport in Malaysia, I knew this place was going to be different. It is a developing country, after all. So after landing I was starving and went to grab some pizza (not Asian, again, I know) from a stand inside the airport. I noticed the man sitting at the table in front of me was smoking a cigarette. Yup, people can smoke inside the airport here! So, that was my first “wow” moment, I guess. In Singapore there were plenty of British/Caucasian people, but here in Malaysia I was getting stares left and right. For once, I was part of the minority. This is the kind of traveling I’ve been wanting to do anyways — the kind where you aren’t just a tourist booking private tours and dining at tourist traps, the kind of tourist that lives with and adapts to the local culture.

I’ve been keeping notes on my phone of things worth mentioning. It’s the easiest way to keep track since my memory is not exactly the best. Here’s what I have collected so far (these are not in any particular order):

  • Woke up hearing chanting. Definitely in another country. There is a loud recording that plays at sunrise and sunset. The majority of Malaysians practice Islam, which is honestly something I didn’t know before coming here! One of the best parts of traveling without researching is what you learn when you get there!
  • Death for drug traffickers in Singapore and $1000 fine for smoking in a non-smoking area. No wonder the crime rate is so low. The fines are intense.
  • Singapore: People pass out anywhere and everywhere. Saw a guy passed out on the (dirty) floor next to McDonalds, and saw a lady passed out in a chair on the balcony of the hostel. Interesting.
  • The Malaysian flag is everywhere. I’m talking like..every 5 feet.
  • Walking around the capital of Malaysia — Kuala Lumpur — there are several men with missing arms. I start to think about the unfortunate circumstances regarding their labor laws.
  • China town is nuts. People everywhere. Locals butchering. Chickens and fish..the smell…yeah..
  • The womens restroom consists of what I like to refer to as a “pee-hole”. There is a tiny hole in the ground, and the sign says no squatting. What’s going on?
  • No napkins
  • People don’t put their trays up when they are done at fast food restaurants
  • When walking, must keep in mind to move to the left instead of the right. Already collided with several people.
  • These men from Pakistan saw my family and I in the train station and had the biggest smiles. They asked to take a picture with us. It was the first time this has ever happened to me, I think. Well, maybe in Costa Rica..but they were genuinely excited! Cool moment.
  • It’s a small world.
  • Train rides truly are the best way to see the country, at such a cheap rate too. At the same time, I saw some extremely impoverished areas. I can’t help but feel really lucky. You should feel lucky too if you’re reading this.
  • Ate breakfast at a local street vendor. The girl working didn’t know any English, and we used body language and signage to communicate. Best food I’ve had so far!
  • Take your shoes off when entering
  • Malaysia: Dad’s money gets stolen at the hotel. Started to feel a little paranoid. Then quickly realized that you can’t live your life in fear. Live and learn. Thieves are the worst of the worst, but I believe in karma. I am lucky that he didn’t take my laptop though!
  • Talked with one of the waiters at the bar tonight. Found out that most people only make around $1-$2 an hour, and work at least 16 hour days. His mom works in a factory and he works to support his family since his dad passed away. It’s hard to get ahead in this place. He was so thankful for the tip that we left him. Feeling lucky once again. One of the best feelings is making a difference in someone’s life.
  • Saw a monkey at the beach. Day made. Cutest little thing ever, but I swear they have some sort of hidden agenda..

That’s all for now.

Jet lagging

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Two words: Jet. Lag.

Survived the longest flight of my life. Felt like I was in a half dream/daze the entire time. Got to Singapore. This place is like Heaven for OCD people. It’s true — this city is crazy clean. I’m impressed, but mostly looking forward to Malaysia and Thailand. Singapore is very posh and I’m just not into that. The locals are extremely nice and I’ve met a European here that we’ve been meeting up with, exploring the city and going to the local bars. The past few nights I’ve been going out and staying up until 6am. I thought I was too old to see the sunrise, guess not. My body and mind must still be in sync with Texas time. Yikes.

Highlights of Singapore so far:

  • Botanical Gardens: Largest garden I’ve seen in my life. Well kept. The pictures don’t even do it justice.
  • Clarke Quay (basically, the hub of nightlife here). People go crazy here. Great for people watching and spending way too much money.
  • Hindi dance bars: I’m still not sure WHAT goes down in these places, but the fact that the owner let me play The Weeknd was excellent. The girls tried to get me to dance, and I did. Glad there are no pictures.
  • The Food: Because it’s delicious. I did cheat and eat Popeyes yesterday. Oops. Needed some fried chicken y’all!

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San Francisco

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So it begins. Naturally, since we left Austin on a very early flight, I got ready in a rush and forgot my iPhone. Such a first world problem, right? The bad news: I was stoked to listen to a ton of new jams I uploaded last night. The good news: I wasn’t glued to my phone and actually enjoyed much of the scenery in San Fran. It’s probably for the best.

We arrived in SF around 9am and our flight to Singapore doesn’t leave until around 11:30pm (the very reason for this blog — total time waster), so we spent the entire day walking around, taking the metro/bus and exploring the city. This was my first time in Northern California, and I fell in love (surprise, surprise). I’ve always said I’d like to move to California or Colorado after Texas. They seem to have that same laid back vibe that Austin has. The weather is literally perfect. The views are great. There’s so much history here — what’s not to love?

Next stop: The Philippines for a layover, and then onward to Singapore. Am I ready for the inevitable “culture shock”? I’m not sure. Updates soon.

Just a few photos from the walk through SF: It was too foggy to get a good picture of the bridge, but that’s okay — that just means I have an excuse to visit again!

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“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”