Tuesday March 13 2007
What is it that makes a country wonderful? It's the people. Malaysia is just that because of its wonderful people. Everywhere people were kind, friendly, always had a genuine greeting or a smile. You got the feeling that they really did enjoy meeting and visiting with you and having you, a foreigner, in their lives, even if it did disrupt them. Of course, the good food doesn't hurt either.
OK, so I did whine about the weather, but that's a matter of your preference. Even a lot of Malaysians said it was dreadfully hot and humid. Steph loved it. I whined about it a lot and came near to heat stroke once or twice. (Wah, wah!) However, there was an awesome rainstorm that dumped on Kuala Lumpur my one afternoon there. I'd just gotten back to the hotel after a wilting long walk, and it started raining - and I mean RAINING! A big, fat, luscious life-giving deluge, a downpour that is frequent in the monsoon season, which this is not, a deluge that refreshes you physically and spiritually. I stuck my arms out our 6th floor windows and soaked it up (I stopped short of running outside and standing in it). I hadn't seen rain in maybe 6 months, and it's been years since I've seen a long heavy serious deluge of sheets and torrents like that. It purged the city of its traffic noise, and it knocked big leaves off some trees that with the breeze floated upwards before spiraling down. It didn't smell as good in the city as it does in the real outdoors, but it still smelled refreshing, cleansing.
It went on for maybe 20 minutes (with one bolt of lightning and thunder!) before you could see it passing on out of Kuala Lumpur. In the distance you could clearly see jungle hills with low clouds floating on them. Now, a good soaking every day in Kedah would have quieted my bellyaching about the heat, if just briefly! I'll just have to come back during the monsoon season.
It seems not too many people smoke here. Not too many people walk here either - everybody either has cars or one of the abundant motorbikes.
It was great meeting and mingling with riders from all over: Holland, Indonesia, Belgium, Malaysia, Qatar, and to hear their languages and accents. Of course it also makes me feel dumb (as it always does) that I don't speak anything other than English when everybody else easily converses in at least 2 other languages.
As for the good food - I had dinner three times a day. Thai or Chinese or Malay food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was sure I'd gain weight here what with all I ate but alas that did not happen!
The fresh fruit juices were in a class altogether extraordinary! Apple, watermelon, guava, starfruit, orange, MANGO, coconut - all fresh squeezed right where you ordered them from. (And on ice!!!) Made you weak in the knees when you sipped one of those on a hot day (which was every day!)
As for the method of eating… well, where you normally might be used to a knife and fork and spoon, or at the least a knife and fork, here you traditionally get a fork and spoon. You can conveniently eat off one or both, and you use the spoon to cut like a knife. And you always get whole pieces of chicken with the bones, so good luck with cutting the meat off with a spoon. You can always eat with your right hand, which some people do, but it can get quite messy. (Also hard to get the meat off chicken with just one hand, if you can't bite it off) I used my fingers in India all the time, but here in Malaysia I tried to master the spoon-as-knife technique. I didn't always cut so well, but I could shove spoonfuls and forkfuls in my mouth almost simultaneously!
And so in closing, I would recommend Malaysia to only a few travelers. Sure, I'd like to share it with some people, but I don't want it spoiled by hoards of tourists. I don't want the lovely country to change at all.