notes from the road

Travelling: Experience it now in 3D!

London Heathrow to Sydney Kingsford Smith took me 7 days, and it was the most enjoyable hemisphere swap I have taken yet.

Breaking up the big flight back to Australia, my sister and I decided to stop for a week in Malaysia. It seems like a no brainer – get to stay in a new country for as long as we want and not have to pay anything extra for flights. The downside could be though that we would be so keen to get home that we’d waste our time there pining for our homecoming. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and Dru and I spent a pleasant four days wandering around Kuala Lumper by ourselves, indulging in the local food, getting our groove on in local dance and marvelling the phenomenal temples. I thought we were really getting a good feel for the place, until we met with a friend of a friend of mine who lives there – and all of what we’d experienced seemed suddenly 2D.

Badri works for the Petronas energy company, the largest company in Malaysia which has built the countries best known building – the conjoined twin towers. He took us to real Malaysian restaurants and monuments, showed us where he shopped, treated us to a coffee-tea (mixed together!)  and let us snack on the greatest food unknown to western man – Pau. Even more valuable than this though was how he explained the economy, political structure, religious beliefs, social habits and way of life from the perspective of a Malaysian citizen with all its idiosyncrasies.  This could not be read in a book, seen in a tourist centre or talked about in a youth hostel. It really brought Malaysia to life and solidified the importance of seeing someone from the country you visit in order to understand it’s culture. It is certainly not the case that just by backpacking in hostels you will miss out on culture. Backpackers get to experience a culture quite rare and exciting – that of meeting many other young and adventurous people from all over the world with similar objectives. But they don’t necessarily get to fully experience the place they are visiting.

When thinking back about my time in Malaysia, the first thing that comes to mind is not the flag, the towers, the food or the temples, but Badri and everything that he taught us about his country.

I’d even be prepared to wear dorky glasses to experience that again.

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