So during the Chinese New Year week off (that’s right, people in Hong Kong get a week off for CNY), I decided to spend my extra 5 days (cause I dont have class thurs fri sat sun mon) in Malaysia as that’s where all my relatives are. I’ve always heard that CNY back in Asia (where they celebrate it) is a lot of fun, and I figured that since I’m here, I might as well see the relatives, see what’s so special about CNY and most importantly, get the awesome Malaysian food that I’ve been craving for ages. However, I didn’t have each day planned; in fact, I didn’t even have my destinations planned. I just went with the flow, and when certain opportunities popped up (as you’ll see later on), I just took advantage and made my plans the night before. As 12 days had a lot of stuff that I could talk about, and as I am quite the lazy person, I will only give highlights with brief descriptions so that they make sense.
Kuala Lumpur – visited the MC office (which was HUGE, it even had a room with a double sized futon). Stayed with an AIESECer who I met in HK (as she currently studies in HK) and she showed me and her other friend around. KL to me, is just another big city with a lot of traffic. The food there was quite enjoyable though! From there I went to….
Muar is the hometown of my dad. He has 11(?) siblings and so Muar to me is family. Spending Chinese New Year there was definitely an experience. It’s very interesting; in Canada… well Toronto (we only have one family out of Toronto and they’re in Halifax) we would all get together to celebrate CNY. I was thinking that they would do the same thing in Muar, but they actually separate it into families. Ie, one of my aunts would have ll their kids come back with their families, but they would not really celebrate it with one of my other aunt’s family even though they’re 1min walk apart. However, being the liberal person that I am, I ran off to each of the different house gatherings to pay my respects and ended up with… quite a bit of red pockets. Speaking about red pockets, this was definitely a culture shock type event. So what I’m used to, is getting red pockets from relatives, so that was perfectly fine in Muar. However, throughout the rest of my journey, I occasionally met different families or was dragged to different events and people that I have never met, nor do I think I would meet again, would just give me a red pocket. Like wha?
Melaka definitely has its heritage and history. They’re known for a couple of delicacies, however because I went with my cousins and their families, we were limited in terms of what we could do as their children ran out of gas relatively early. I did try the durian chendol though… was like chendol but tasted like artificial durian.. I think I was hoping for actual pieces of durian.. I also thought that chicken rice ball would be a rice ball with chicken inside, so I was quite insistent on trying one. However, once I ordered it (one of the best things about going to malaysia is everyone refuses to let me pay), I realized all it was was chicken on one side, and rice balls on the other. Quite disappointed.
Ipoh is known for their beansprout chicken. I never knew that beansprouts was something that could be compared but hey, they’re proud of it and I enjoyed it. Ipoh is also a place where almost everyone spoke cantonese. I went there with my cousin because his wife is from Ipoh and I figured that since I was already going to be at Ipoh, I could go to Penang after. Besides some delicious delicacies, a lot of wine and red pockets, Ipoh didn’t really stand out. Note: I was stuck with my cousin so there probably were a couple of things worth checking out but I just didn’t have the time.
Penang is known for it’s honker food – it means that it has many outdoor food courts that have family owned stalls. Penang is also an amazing place to check out during the 15 days of Chinese New Year. Well it’s an amazing place to check out anytime during the year, but they turned their awesomely large temple into a light show (well to me, it was more like a Chinese Christmas decoration; the featured image is what I’m talking about). Penang speaks a lot of Hockien, in fact, I found out that Hockien is actually a very common language in Malaysia. Luckily for me, I knew people who knew people who live in Penang. Thus, I stayed with a fellow AIESECer during that time. Penang is also known for it’s “awesome” laksa, but when I tried it, it was totally not to my taste. Penang laksa to me, was a asam laksa with a very strong hint of clam, both things I am not a fan of. However, I did get a chance to go on a water scooter during this time. It wasn’t very hard to learn, but I realized just how polluting it can be…
Kuala Lumpur was also my last stop (as the plane does leave from there). I stayed with a different AIESECer this time (found by the AIESECer in Penang) and thus it was once again a very different experience. During the 2 days and one night, the AIESECer was busy packing and so her parents were the one who took me to all these different places. It was definitely not what I expected, but they did take me and her two younger brothers on a lot of food expeditions. I think it was my first time trying dim sum in Malaysia, and I’m glad to say that Toronto’s was more my style.
Travel Lessons learnt
Pack light – think of everything you need and bring 75% (possibly 50%) of that
bring pictures of your family, your house, your lifestyle. Everytime you talk to a local and say you’re from Canada, they get so curious
Have a must see for each place and a list of nice to see’s – its difficult to plan whole days expecting to do certain things within a certain amount of time