Malaysia, Single-handedly Renewing my Hatred for all Insect-kind

1 03 2011

My short 80 some hours in Malaysia was nothing short of a whirlwind. It was my first time traveling in Southeast Asia and my first time traveling abroad alone. Luckily enough, English is an administrative language in Malaysia, so communication wasn’t too big of an issue. The country is extremely diverse, with the ethnic makeup mostly comprised of local Malays, Indians, and Chinese. Malaysia itself identifies itself as a Muslim country, with mosques dotting the landscape and hauntingly beautiful calls to prayer projected throughout the day. My trip started with a midnight arrival into Kuala Lumpur.

After months of dreary, cold Beijing, the humidity and exoticness of Kuala Lumpur was more than welcome. When I arrived to my hostel at one in the morning, I decided to go out and get myself a sample of the storied Malaysian street food I’d heard so much about. I guess at that hour, however, most things just kind of shut down as the streets were almost completely empty. I’ve grown used to the nitty grittyness of Asian streets, but seriously, there were rats everywhere. The little audacious disease balls were just scurrying around everywhere, across roads and into sewage canals. But I guess that was the least of my worries that evening. The first person I ran into on the otherwise empty roads was a guy a bit younger than me, who from across the street, I thought was asking for a cigarette. It turns out though, judging by the manner in which he was bobbing his head back forth, that he was offering a different service altogether. After kindly refusing, I scurried off only to run into something significantly scarier. I don’t know if I was just tired, or the street lighting was just a little off, but I almost actually physically ran into a woman standing on a corner without noticing her. She was maybe 40, obviously a lady of the night according to her get up, and had a crazy Amy Winehouse-esque beehive haircut. But the scariest thing was her pale, ashy face that just kinda dully stared at me. I collected myself and walked a few paces by, looking behind my shoulder…to see that she had completely disappeared. Ghost prostitute, I didn’t get much sleep that night.

Early in the morning, I hopped on a bus to Pangkor Island. Four hours outside of Kuala Lumpur, I had heard that it offered some of the country’s best beaches. Because of the prior night, I completely passed out on the ride there, only to be quickly rushed off the bus still halfway asleep. Turns out that I didn’t get dropped off at my destination, but some random shanty town bus station in a town called Ipoh. And the next transfer bus wouldn’t be here for another 3 hrs. Luckily enough, there were two Dutch guys who also were heading to the island, and were in the same predicament, so we split a cab the rest of the way. We finally got to the island around midday after riding a ferry to the island jetty. For the evening, I rented a little chalet right on the beach, that was extremely cheap and offered a great view…but was Spartan living to say the least. As promised, the beaches were gorgeous, even if the area was a bit resorty.

The next 24 hrs. proved to be full of highs and lows. That evening, I paid for my thriftiness, as I was rudely awoken at 4:18 in the morning by insects in my bed EATING ME ALIVE. I freaked out, and ended up sleeping in a plastic deck chair the rest of the evening. Early the next morning, I left my nice, but otherwise boring Dutch traveling friends, and headed out to Teluk Segedas, a secluded beach area on the south side of the island. Its secluded because you’ve actually got to trek through 2 km of uncut wild jungle to get to the beach, which was full of hornbills, bearded monkeys, and spiders the size of my fist. The entire time, I was afraid I would:

– Get lost in the jungle and never be found again.
– Sprain an ankle, not be able to exit the jungle, and never be found again
-Be bitten by one of the aforementioned spiders, and never be found again.

But as soon as you could hear the ocean, and the dark tree line cleared, the precarious journey made it all the sweeter.


Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. As promised it was almost completely empty (save for three pudgy locals having a fish bake), and supremely relaxing. The water was crystal clear, with schools of fish darting about between your legs as you stand. The creeping jungle behind provided ample shade for an afternoon layabout. After spending an entire day there, I made the slow return back to Kuala Lumpur, and headed back to Beijing the morning after.

A few observations…Malaysian people might honestly be the friendliest people I’ve ever met. The country is full of beautiful, mixed race peoples. While the food is good, it certainly has a bit of an identity crisis in not being able to figure out what it is. The majority of young tourists/backpackers that Southeast Asia attract suck, as they seem to think that tribal tattoos, traditional Indian clothing, and man capris are acceptable. Also, when Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston die, all of Asia will fall into a deep period of unparalleled mourning. And sunshine really can make the difference in maintaining a healthy outlook on life.




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