Malaysia: Truly Asia and Land of the Monkeys
Malaysia!! How do I describe this country with all the uniqueness, culture, craziness, that make it what it is? Do I even have the words to describe everything that this country was/is to me? I had an amazing and intense 4-week experience in Malaysia that I cannot put into words, so accept this as my pitiful attempt at an inadequate summary.
Let me start with my personal experiences as I navigated and interacted with people (and monkeys – but we’ll get to those later) in Malaysia. So far, Malaysia is the only Asian country I have ever visited (India and Thailand are next!!), and I remember being seen/treated as a “freak of nature.” I was travelling with two other people – a tall, Caucasian guy and a red-head Caucasian guy, and we were all “freaks” in Malaysia. There was the tall, white guy, which is a strange concept in Malaysia (especially the “tall” part), the “red-head” and me, the “Black” girl. We were constantly gawked at, and I cannot tell you how many strangers’ pictures I must be in now. Everywhere we went, people wanted to take pictures with us! It was mostly amusing to me, but sometimes I felt very strange and/or slightly unsafe when I was by myself and someone was staring creepily at me.
Now I should tell you about when I (literally) almost lost my life on a scooter (similar to a motorcycle or “okada” in this case) in pursuit of a giant 4-foot lizard. The lizard was huge!! And it was casually chilling by the side of the road. Sadly, I never got a picture of the lizard because it ran away as I was struggling not to die, but the good news is I managed to escape death with only a few minor injuries to prove it. The lesson here for you is that there are many strange things in Malaysia, so be careful and vigilant whenever you visit.
I’m such a foodie, and I have to say that Malaysia has such amazing and delicious food!! Writing about this now makes me hungry. I had the best pastries of my life in Malaysia, and I managed to gain so much weight in 4 weeks. I wonder how most Malaysians remain so small.
*I’ll give so much for some “Nasi Lemak” (literally translated “Fat Rice”) right now!
Malaysia is a culturally diverse place, and that is reflected in food, religions, languages, and art that are prominent in the country. The country consists mainly of people of Malay, Chinese, and Indian origins. Although the official language is Malay, almost everyone speaks English.
At the same time, Malaysia is also really modern. The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 – 2004, and are still the tallest twin towers in the world. The twin towers are definitely impressive. The country also houses one Utama Shopping Center – the sixth (or seventh) largest mall in the world. That mall is so huge, and it is so easy to get lost in it.
Malaysia also reminded me of Nigeria in many ways. The busy Malaysian traffic is one to which most Nigerians can relate. Malaysia was also really hot and humid!! To be fair, I was there during the summer, but I believe it was hotter than Nigeria, which says a lot. Most of the Malaysians I spent time with avoided being outside. Similar to Nigeria, street food in Malaysia should be eaten at your own risk, which means eat it (because we all know street food, especially Nigeria’s, is the best!) but be very careful and pay attention. In Malaysia, the straw your street food vendor just offered you may be a used one that has been recycled for your use, so, again, be vigilant. And another thing, Malaysians love their Milo, even if they pronounce it “My-lo.”
Malaysia also has such incredible natural beauty! See a few pictures below:
And, saving the best for last, it is time to talk about the monkeys. I have never seen as many monkeys in my life as I did in Malaysia. They were everywhere, even casually hanging out by the side of the road. I witnessed one of monkeys cross the road to steal the can drink one of the guys, with whom I was travelling. At another time, on Monkey Island (which, as the name suggests, means the Island was swarming with monkeys), in Langkawi, one monkey ran down a tree to a bench and stole some food from a woman’s purse and then ran behind some barrier, where it proceeded to eat the food. One of the guys caught it on video, and it was epic! Before we embarked on a short hike at the Lake of the Pregnant Maidens, we saw a large sign, warning us to “Beware of Monkey Attacks.” The sign did not help much as one of the guys (the same one whose drink was stolen) was almost attacked and robbed by a monkey who thought he had some food or something in his backpack. During the hike, we were so close to the monkeys, and there were so many of them. Malaysia, to me, is the Land of the Monkeys.
As the monkey came down the tree to steal from the lady’s purse
I had a memorable time in Malaysia, and I miss it so very much. I miss the country, the food, the culture, and the beautiful people I met there. I hope to be able to go back soon, and I hope you consider visiting this truly Asian country.
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Image Source: Author’s Own