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.