By Loke J-Han
The title is something I really do hear often. Some will know where it’s from. This article is about fresh things. A fresh look at least, of something many of us consider to be home; to be our place of refuge. Malaysia.
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometers separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Well that’s how Wikipedia describes us at least. The people who live here on the other hand call it diverse, fiery, gastronomical (I had to Google this) and a few other things.
But I had a thought: Do others see Malaysia from the same perspective we do? A friend from the Philippines recently flew over and we sat down to have a small chat about this country.
“What’s the first thing you noticed?”
“The WAY more organized farms and some weird structures stretching out into sea”
It’s odd to think organized farms would be something new right? I remember my father driving us to Ipoh during certain weekends to grab some good grub and I’d notice how all the plantations were always in nice little lines and how the old plants and the new were segregated. A tiny mist would creep between the trees, providing a horror movie like scenery.
Could we have overlooked the beauty of symmetry and beautiful geometrically pleasing farms that was right within our sight this entire time? Maybe.
“Teh tarik satu,” I said, while teaching my friend how to order his new favorite drink.
And with that, we started talking about food. Or rather, places to go makan.
“Where to eat ah?”
What a typical Malaysian phrase. In fact, we college students spend most of our time with friends asking that very same and simple question.
We have been so fortunate to have food play such a big part in our culture, traditions and lives. I suppose that makes us all rich in some way.
Having been in the Philippines before, the difference in just the outlook of the city is overwhelming, really.
Over here, almost every other corner lot is a coffee shop or at the very least, a hipster-looking cafe to go fill our bellies. Over there, I found myself struggling to cope with the absence of these – Then again, I believe that’s what makes the Philippines beautiful to their people in their own little way as well.
“Everyone is wearing slippers? What?”
This one goes without saying. And slippers with jeans? Ultimate deal breaker, just saying. Later I proceeded to show him a picture of a ton of people wearing Birkens and he just said “Oh my…” I really should have him around more often.
“Things are tiny here”
If a Filipino calls something tiny, IT’S TINY. The cars are apparently tiny. He was so amused by our Myvi’s and Atos’s and other small cars on the road. “So cute!” was all he said.
And of course, lest we forget…
A lot of you may beg to differ, but the king of fruits sets apart the true Malaysians at heart. Don’t internet poke me! And in case you’re wondering, my friend has found love with this complex fruit.
Malaysia may not be the perfect place with white sandy beaches ( although we do have something close), or inhabited by people who aren’t flawed, but we’re all trying.
We have amazing food, rainforests, and of course, people. As long as we remind ourselves that every small thing makes a difference and to occasionally head out for a warm cup of teh tarik and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, without having to travel miles and miles away for it.