Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our Final Days in Malaysia - closing thoughts

Day 10 - Kuala Lumpur - Well, we are back into the big city. I am growing fond of this city and am really liking Malaysia. John says he is ready to move on. He was disappointed from the start as he was expecting some similar debauchery as Thailand but I think Malaysia grew on him as well. Malaysia has some of the most beautiful nature I have seem. Glowing highland hills, amazing jungles, everything is green and clean. The people of Malaysia are the friendliest lot I think I have met. It certainly helps that everyone speaks a fair amount of English, but I think it is more than that. There is a genuine warmness in the people I have met. Everyone is willing to give you the best help they can, everyone will entertain a request for advice or help, and no one tries to cheat you (save taxi drivers).

I have grown used to haggling every inch in SE Asia and never accepting a quoted price, and never buying a product without agreeing to a fair price first. So I was first surprised and then cautious when I was told at the Chinese restaurant today to put food on my plate and then I will be told a price after based on what I take. Anywhere else in SE Asia this seems like a sure fire way to charge a tourist an extortionate price. In Malaysia, you get charged the local price. I loaded up a plate with rice, a pork chop, sweet and sour chicken and some veggies. I showed the Chinese shopkeeper my plate and cringed as I awaited the quoted price. "4.5 Ringits." Really, more food than I could ever eat for less than $1.5usd. Amazing. Big man John comes behind me with a much larger plate of food, more than he ended up eating, 6 ringits ($2usd). Between the friendliness, honesty, religious harmony, amazing amazing food, and beautiful environment, Malaysia has turned out to be a country I truly enjoy. Too bad beers are $2usd a piece or more. But I guess that could be expected in a Muslim country, I guess I should just be thankful at the tolerance of the community for allowing drinking altogether.

So today we woke up in Jerantut and made our way to the bus station for the 9am bus back to KL. We rolled into town at around noon, said goodbye to Sofie, and caught a city bus back to Chinatown to the same Oasis Hostel that we had stayed at before.

After the aforementioned lunch, John left to the airport to grab Beth while Matt and I went exploring. First stop was Merdeka Square which was amazing decorated in huge Malaysian flags in preparation for National Day on the 31st.

Stop two was the old railway station followed by the National Mosque. Visiting the Mosque was a great experience. We dressed up in gowns and talked to ... I guess missionaries?... at the help desk. They talked us through some of the important tenets of Islam and presented me with an English version of the Qur'an which I graciously accepted and intend to read.

Now Beth is in town and we are off to visit the Saturday night Market in Little India. Tomorrow we will try to go up the Petronas Towers early in the morning before catching our 3:45pm flight to Myanmar! Myanmar, here we come!!!!

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