Most hair salons in Malaysia are conveniently located in the air conditioned malls. Most of them are not busy, you just walk in.
For what is about to happen, not only would you pay through the nose in the US, but the line would also be a week long.
First, for about thirty minutes your hair gets a bubble bath where the bubbles get whipped into meringues, your head gets kneaded like it was the winning dough in The Great British Bake Off, and your scalp gets scratched as though you were a cat’s favorite post.
Then, your shoulders get a little massage.
And then, after you’ve been lulled into a state of relaxation where you couldn’t care if you were there for a haircut or a lobotomy – the procedure begins.
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.
These tips come from the Batek tribe that lives in the Taman Negara forest, Malaysia. A tribe of about 2000 people, spread out in villages throughout the forest, they stay away from as much of modern life as possible and live off the land.
(Tips could also be used as plot points in The Walking Dead)
If you need to start a fire and don’t have any dry kindling, use your hair* (cut it off your head first, you’re not making a torch)
Hunting using poisoned tip dart is very effective, aim for the legs so the poison can’t spread far, but if the meat turns blue, you probably shouldn’t eat it.
Move around a lot, if you’re nomadic the zombies are less likely to find you, and you won’t deplete your food source
Weddings are unnecessary for procreation, you can declare a marriage after spending the night together, you don’t need to choose a colour scheme or table settings first. Also, don’t marry someone from the same village, eventually the genes catch up to you.
Have a lot of babies, not very useful when young, but the more people to fight the aliens, the better
In Malaysia you always need to remember to carry two things:
1. Drinking Water
2. Toilet paper: for use when the water runs out
Now, regarding #2, you might think “why?” or, if you’re used to travelling in this part of the world, you might think “duh, that’s so obvs” – however the point that needs to be made is not that Malaysia doesn’t have toilet paper (they have plenty of it), but rather, that the toilet paper is stored on the outside of the stall.
Much debate has ensued over why exactly there is a giant roll of toilet paper by the sinks: does it save trees, did they just not feel like installing dispensers in the stalls, are we all being filmed for an episode of Candid Camera? To our “Western” brains with “Western stomachs” this design presents two big flaws: what if you forgot to grab some paper, and if you did remember, what if you didn’t take enough.
I think we can all agree that not having enough toilet paper while in a public bathroom is a scenario best left to a movie whose main component is a slapstick sound effects budget and stars anyone from American Pie.
In the end, the answer was infront of our faces (especially went squatting). Malaysia has “wet” toilets. Each stall consists of a couple of hoses (besides.knowing they are for cleaning, I’m not entirely sure how they work) but the end result is that each stall gets hosed down after every use – which makes going to the toilet feel like you’re constantly at the public pool in the summer, and would make it impossible to keep the toilet paper dry.
So, my solution is to constantly carry paper, mainly because I cannot remember to tear some off before I go in, but I can remember to replace the wad in my pockets on the way out.