My Thai visa ran out so I took a weekend trip to Malaysia. It was quite the place… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It didn’t have such a strong cultural identity, but there was a cool mix of people. Street signs were written in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, and Arabic, which I think speaks for itself of the disparate populations that make their home here. The diversity was also apparent in the architecture, with colonial, Islamic, and Chinese themes being common throughout. These 3 are all from the same town:
On a tip from a friend, I decided to bypass Kuala Lumpur and head for Melakka, a historical riverside town. I walked around all day and saw a lot of little buildings and shops. And drank a lot of juices (dragonfruit juice, kiwi smoothies) because this place was hotter than the gates of hell. At one point, I was a bit delirious from the heat, not watching where I was going, and I almost stepped on a dead crocodile with a pool of blood coming out of its mouth. It looked like it had come out of the gutter and promptly had its head bashed in.
The main highlight of this trip was the food, though. Malaysian food= delicious. I got fried potatoes on a stick with mayonnaise, breaded chicken cooked in a sweet butter sauce with peppers, roasted chicken with satay peanut sauce, chicken basted in sweet and spicy sauce… basically, a lot of tasty chicken. It was nice to get away from the heat of Thai food for a while; Malaysian food does have peppers in it, but they’re more like a little momentary sting than a full-on war in your mouth. I had waited quite some time for this trip to go have all my favorite Malaysian foods, and so I had to cram them into only a day and a half’s time. And even though I was stuffed, there was one dish that I kept seeing signs for at restaurants, nasi lemak; I decided I had to see what all of the rage was about. So I found a restaurant that served it. Just look at it! So many new things to try, it’s like a free-for-all.
As soon as they handed me my plate, I had the distinct feeling I was being watched. It turns out I was, by the pile of dried, salted fish heads there on the plate. They were actually not that bad; the eyes were crunchy, kind of like chips.
At night, the streets are bumpin’. There are these techno bikes with passenger carts covered in blinking lights. They drive up and down the streets blasting techno music and trying to attract tourists to ride in them. I think that would be a pretty sweet job.
Then you can walk down by the water, and it looks a bit like many idyllic paintings of water at night. Multicolored lights down the canal, and tastefully run-down buildings in the background.
The next day I got up early and bussed it back into Kuala Lumpur to visit Batu Caves, a huge cave with a temple inside it. I used to have a CD-rom world encyclopedia that played music and videos of the different countries in the world, and Batu Caves was one of the places that fascinated me the most. Needless to say, I was very excited to visit one of the places to which I owe my original love for traveling.
When you get there, you climb up this huge mass of steps. Monkeys are running around all over the place screaming and jumping through the trees. Standing at the base of the steps, the caves are quite daunting. And at your side, there is an enormous golden statue of Buddha that is almost as tall as the caves themselves.
Once you get up to the caves, you hit the classic view:
Now there’s one thing I can cross of my bucket list.
After that, it was time to come back from my weekend of fun. I gained 10 pounds from eating, then lost it again in sweat; I fulfilled a childhood dream; and I got my visa renewed at the same time. Not too shabby.