We were lucky enough to get to spend an afternoon playing games, drawing, and joking with young Burmese “refugees”. It’s a complicated situation as Malaysia infrequently grants refugee asylum to incoming refugees, and are often treated as illegal immigrants regardless of status. The whole experience was rather heart-wrenching. I lent my camera to a young boy who spent the day figuring out how the work the lens, focus, and taking wonderful photos of his friends.
One of the most fascinating aspects to life in Malaysia is the complex cultural cohesion. You have vastly different lifestyles that somehow manage to live in relative peace (Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic being the main three.) This creates an international, vibrant, and overall welcoming atmosphere to the country unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We were lucky enough to visit cultural sites for all of the main religions, as well as stop by some main tourist sites. If you’re ever in the area, definitely hit up the Penang Butterfly Farm- it’s a little dorky but surprisingly fun. And definitely, above all else, don’t shy away from hole in the wall street food. It blows anything you’ll find in the malls out of the water and it’s truly unique to the region. You only live once!
Our time in Penang was pretty visually stunning. It’s a small industrial island, beaches nearby, and the famous hawker stands. We toured some Chinese mafia houses and theaters, ate fresh coconut on beaches and snorkeled with exotic fish, and witnessed some touching Hindu rituals.
Essentially, it was a few days of an unbelievable “educational” experience. I mean really, how often do you go sun bathing on faraway beaches with your professor?
I promised to post some photos from my two weeks across the globe a few months ago. I’ve finally sorted through my photos and I’ve got three posts coming up!
We flew into Penang and explored the city and surrounding area for a few days before heading off to Kuala Lumpur. Not only did we enjoy the touristic beaches and shopping malls, but we visited fascinating think-tanks, a Burmese refugee school for children, and ate absurdly delicious street food. It was an overload of new and exciting cultures; Indian, Chinese, and Malay lifestyles all mixing fluidly.
I had an absolutely fantastic time and cannot wait to return to that corner of the planet.
Sorry I didn’t get to send out any emails or say goodbye to anyone, but I’m running out the door to catch a flight to Malaysia! I’ll be there with my school doing crazy and wonderful things until the 23rd. Hope everyone has a great Spring Break!