This past August, I was Skyping with my sister. She was in Australia at the time, to spend a year out there working and exploring. She told me that she and her boyfriend had decided to fly to Southeast Asia to spend a couple of months having an adventure. She said three powerful words to me as well: you should come. So… we did. Just like that. Despite the fact that Asia has never even been remotely on my radar. Maybe because of it. A month later we were on a flight, and over thirty hours later [yes, 30!], we were in Kuala Lumpur.
I think I was underprepared for how western Kuala Lumpur is. I found the city to feel surprisingly familiar despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary. It felt a lot like an eastern city disguised as a western city, I suppose. So while we had much fun traipsing about the city, I think the most fulfilling part of my time in Malaysia was when we left the city. The more rural parts of Malaysia were utterly magical. First up, the Batu Caves—an incredible hindu shrine. A giant golden deity, about three gazillion steps, dazzling caves, and monkeys galore. This girl couldn’t ask for more.
We also traveled to Melaka to explore this historic city and UNESCO world heritage site of cultural blend. Malay, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British. Such a strange and intriguing path this small city had. The density of culture is almost overwhelming.
One of the most magical experiences of our time in Malaysia? We went trekking to see the fireflies. There’s an actual region known for the intense prevalence of fireflies. We didn’t know what we were getting into when we decided to head out there, but we were certainly dazzled. There was silence and darkness. We were guided along a creaky dock, onto quiet boats. There was almost no light. There was only a hint of hazy glow in the blackness. And suddenly a few little glowing specks in the trees. And then a few more. And then a million sparkles, a scintillating symphony. I wish I could have better captured this, but I don’t really believe it would be possible to accurately represent that magic mood, that feeling of endless wonder.
Malaysia was full of unexpected magic. It was also a special opportunity to travel with my sister and peek at newness together. In Malaysia I think I discovered how much that the rural speaks to me over the urban, but no matter, there were things to discover everywhere. Beautiful, quiet things.