It’s hard to believe a week has gone by already. I left West Hartford last Friday morning and didn’t arrive in KL until Sunday morning. KL is the short version for the capital of Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur. The plane rides were uneventful, but the plane food was so bad I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. One thing to note is that Singapore has the nicest airport possibly in the world. We had a six hour layover there and it was easy to fill that time meandering. I met up with other Fulbrighters in Chicago and Hong Kong. They are as expected: outgoing, accomplished, bright, and eager to make an impact on the children of Malaysia. Just the type of people I’d like to spend the next ten months of my life with.
The first week in KL has been hectic. I’ve been putting in full days of orientation, and full nights of exploration. The other 99 Fulbrighters and I have been briefed on a variety of subjects. We have learned about what our grant entails in the classroom, the ever-so-terrifying security discussion from the embassy staff, and plenty of information on the culture and education system here in Malaysia. I found out that I will be placed in the state of Terrenganu, which is located on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. It is primarily a Muslim state, so I will have to adjust to a weekend schedule of Friday and Saturday versus Saturday and Sunday. I will be living in a town called Kuala Berang. It is located less than an hour from the beach, the national rainforest (Tamen Negara), and Malaysia’s largest lake. I should easily be able to fulfill all of my outdoor desires. I’ll be close to Thailand, which has its advantages, as well as to other Fulbrighters with whom I have become friends. I really like all of the other kids that will be working in my state and there is already talk of trips potentially to the pristine resort islands off the coast or a houseboat rental on the ginormous lake.
In terms of traversing the city of KL I feel that I have already seen a lot in just one week. I have refused to eat in the numerous malls and have resorted strictly to street food and little restaurants. The food is amazing. Let me say that again, the food is amazing! My favorite word in bahasa Malay is ‘padas’ which means spicy. It has been getting a lot of use in my vocabulary. I am starting to pick up some Malay phrases and it is fun practicing with the locals. I have been to the infamous Petronas Towers and they have a spectacular water light show at night time in the courtyard surrounding them. Today we went to the Batu caves outside of KL (google them). They were a sight to behold and I will include a picture of them below. I’ve also been to a couple mosques, including the national mosque, and been wowed by their architectural beauty. The other place that I am a fan of in KL is Chinatown. It is exactly how one would imagine it, but haggling in any language is enjoyable. We’ve also gone out at night to a place called ‘bar street’ by tourists. It’s fun to blow off some steam with other Fulbrighters and loosen up over a couple Tiger beers. The one downside is that alcohol is extremely expensive, but I guess at the same time that has some advantages to it as well. Tomorrow should be an exciting day we are having tea at the ambassadors house. As I’m sure you can predict, I will be wearing a bow tie. That’s all for now, I don’t want to ramble too much. I’m still taking in the fact that I’m in another country. There will be plenty more to come!
Selamat tinggal (goodbye)
PS- I’ve got plenty of more photos, I’m still working on a way to reduce the file size so that they can be uploaded, stay tuned.