As I get ready to say goodbye to Malaysia by eating my last Chicken Rendang at the airport, I can’t help but think, “I’ve gotten used to being here.”
When I first arrived, six weeks ago, I wore a dark dress. Within a few hours it had batiked itself into a dark dress with white lines streaking across in various directions – all the salt was pouring out of my body at a rate that should be studied by a highschool science class, “look at the body’s cooling mechanism in action, in about an hour she will shrivel up and die from dehyradation”. Six weeks later, I probably sweat the same amount, but I have learned not to wear that dress.
I’ve learned to drink tea with condensed milk, eat curry for breakfast, ditch a knife in favour of spoon and fork – or just use fingers, constantly stop for fruit juice, buy drinking water, eat less vegetables, eat more carbs, eat lots of fried things, and carry around toilet paper, mosquito repellent and hand sanitizer. It sounds like I’ve learned to live as a five year old, or the mother of a five year old.
Malaysia is the perfect place for a solo traveller: the people are friendly, but not too friendly, the intra-peninsular bus system is amazing, the food is incredible – and table for one is totally acceptable, it’s safe, it’s exciting, old school and cosmopolitan. It has rainforests, beaches, mountains, cities, temples fancy coffee shops and hawker stalls – pretty much something for every occasion.
As long as you protect yourself from too many leeches (cause a couple are a good novelty story) and wear sunscreen, you’ll come out happy, healthy, relaxed and with a strange desire to see karaoke wherever you go – and if desire to climb Mt. Kinabalu and you do it in a group, you’ll come out with a group of life long friends.