Malaysia: More Than A Destination
After 11 years of absence from the country I once called home, planning a trip to Malaysia was bitter sweet. It's my birthplace, a land of my soul food, language and heritage…a familiar place yet after living overseas for over twenty years, I was becoming a foreigner visiting the once familiar land with fear of the unknown and unexpected. The fear of the past came to haunt me.
I've been warned by friends that in the last 11 years, things have changed. The roadways in Kuala Lumpur, the capital and largest city in Malaysia were not what I was used to. The development in the last decade may mean a driver and a guide will be helpful for my travels around Kuala Lumpur.
But I was born there…I know my way around.
I went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and on to Melaka to rediscover my roots and to introduce the country to my children who are American born. Most importantly, to catch up with all the soul food and let my children experience life in Malaysia.
This trip made me realize my children's senses are different from mine:
"Oh…that is nauseating…yucky smell. How can anyone stand that smell, let alone eat it?" One of my teens exclaimed while we were passing by a fruit stall. "Shh…quiet…not so loud", I quickly replied.
He was referring to durian…the fruit that Andrew Zimmern from Travel Channel's Bizzarre Foods will not eat. Remember, he ate animal organs but not that delightful fruit that Malaysian love and crave for.
Relatives came to my parents' home with gifts of food and fruits to meet with us. Sure enough my Aunt, the fruit lady, as she is now called by my kids, came with lots of durians. She pried the fruit and laid it opened on the floor on top of a layer of newspapers.
The children hated it, I loved it.
"What are they yelling at mom, at 5 am?" It was time for morning prayers and the local mosque blasted prayer chants over a loud speaker for the villagers. I didn't notice it at all.
Muslims in Malaysia pray five times a day and of course, the early morning broadcast woke the kids up and wondered what the commotion was all about.
"Oh, my gosh! How can they do that? Why are they dressing that little boy in pink?"
There was no such thing as blue for boys and pink for girls when I was growing up. These days, parents are more savvy and conscious as Malaysians are becoming more affluent especially in big cities. Occasionally you will still find boys being dressed in pink in the villages.
"Yucky, chicken feet stew, stir fry frog legs and pig's tail soup!" "No way Jose, I'm not eating that thing!"
To me, they are delightful soul food and I really enjoy eating chicken feet especially for dim sum. Anyway they politely tried all the cooked foods and never once rejected them when served. That is showing respect and honor to the host and hostess (great kids!).
"So good to finally meet you Jon!" My son was expecting a hug from his uncle but instead it was a handshake.
Most Malaysians do not hug especially the older generations in the village. They don't express their appreciation with hugs or touches. However they give children a red packet consisting of money or they take them to restaurants to celebrate with a meal.
I quickly realized my children's culture and five senses are different from mine. It was fun rediscovering my own homeland and to know that I have raised two Americans and they are proud to be called so…the land their parents are calling home as well.
Travel did help us remember who we were and enriched our knowledge of other cultures. It has taken us to places we could only imagine and now call home. Travel takes us to the place we once called home and now it is just a distance land we visit once in a while.
Where has travel brought you thus far? Please share.
Previous post: Get Ready for Holiday Email Marketing Now