Monday, June 3, 2019

Malaysia Diaries May 2019: Back to Kuala Lumpur

On May 8th, my family and I flew back to KL to visit family and attend my uncle's wedding.  It so happens that I go back every 5 years or so.  This case was no different.  Malaysia is where all my close relative live.  

(Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I grew up in Malaysia.  Would I value family more?  Aside from living oceans apart, the language barrier is always a challenge.  In Malaysia, people grow up being exposed to three main languages: Malay, Chinese dialects, and English.  Switching from one language to the next looks so easy coming from my relatives who live here, but they mainly talk Hokkien to each other.  I can only communicate fluently in English to them.  And every now and then someone tells me that it's not good to just know English.  I am of Chinese decent so I should know how to speak Chinese.  People think poorly of Chinese who only know English.  "Banana" is what they call me.  I used to hate learning Mandarin.  I went to a predominantly white school where all my friends and classmates spoke English to their parents.  I thought it was embarrassing to speak a different language to your parents.  Being Asian in general was not cool.  Kids made fun of Chinese people.  "My name is Ling Ling.  Ching chong ching chong".  The jokes were funny to me at times, but ultimately made me feel like my heritage was a joke.  I distanced myself from being Chinese.  My mother spoke exclusively in English to me so it was easier to turn a blind eye; to create that barrier.  A barrier that had negative repercussions that only until recently did I begin to feel.)

I wrote that while in Malaysia and contemplated whether or not to delete it entirely.  Ultimately, that's how I felt and continue to feel so it would not seem genuine to not put my thoughts out there.  I digress.

Albeit the sweltering hot temperatures, everyday we managed to do something different and exciting. I plan to dedicate a full blog post to the best foods to try in Malaysia, but for now here's a brief recap of my first two days back in KL:

My Kong Kong has lived in the same neighbourhood for well over forty years, so he's an expert and well loved man to plenty of people who live and work around his house.  Along the roads it's very easy to find shops under tents selling anything and everything.  He brought us to a store he frequents regularly to let us try fresh durian and coconut.  My mom buys the frozen ones back home and I never dare to touch them because it just looks so unappetizing.  Eating tropical fruits here is such an experience.  The durian was so creamy and soft and not at all foul.

 After a few hours roaming around the mall, my EE brought us to try chendol.  It beats ice kachang any day.  The green jelly is made from the pandan leaf.

 The pasar malam (night market) is a fun way to try different foods.  I ate asam laksa, jackfruit, and guava to name a few.  All of which I have eating before, but only in Malaysia!

Aso, my neighbour, has a gorgeous jackfruit tree in her front yard.  I almost didn't recognize the jackfruit under at the clothes protecting them.  I thought they were just doing laundry.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series! I've got a backlog of pictures I want to share and a lot more time to write now that I'm on summer vacation.


  1. Beautiful pictures! I understand the part about the language barriers. I can only speak a little of my ancestral tongues and only because I've spent a lot of time trying to learn them. And people don't understand what its like living in a society where you don't hear or speak them often.

    1. I'm trying harder to learn, but the learning is slow. And if I don't make an effort and do this for myself, no one else is going to push me to learn. At least I'm doing something.