Mysteries of Malaysia
Malaysia is my first Muslim country. I am excited about this as it adds a certain exotic mystery to the trip as well as being a change from the predominantly Buddhist countries we have been visiting. The difference is immediate as while checking in to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur or “KL” we hear the Call to Prayer. It’s a haunting beautiful sound that throughout my trip affects me. I am not religious but the chanting being sent out over a loud speaker turns into a reminder to me to give thanks, to think about my family and to remember all that is good.
In all my travels, I’ve never seen a woman in a full Burka with the face completely shrouded. It’s a shocking scene, and I try to divert my eyes but the real sight of this is like a punch to the stomach. There are only a few women in the hotel in the full dress, but the sight to me is a grim reminder of how the fate and rights of women are so different in other parts of the world. What is more angering is the husband of one of the women who struts by in a Western-style outfit of long basketball shorts, a t-shirt, gold chains and flip flops. He can’t be more than 30 years old. The woman is covered head to toe, and it’s a heat index of 105.
KL isn’t the most interesting city but making things more difficult is an intense heat that about 1/2 hour into my “getting to know you” walk I decide to give up and surrender to the nearest mall. The malls are amazing in KL, where ours have 200 stores there’s have 500, we have 2 stories, they have 8. While down in the food court, which to me is more like a kingdom, I am approached by an Asian woman holding a Western baby. “Are you British?” she asks. “No, I’m American.” Then she says, “Oh, this baby’s father is British.” At this point, I’m wondering where this is going. She continues, “The father has been gone for a whole week, and the baby has been in a bad mood and cries all the time. I think it’s because all he sees are Asian people so I thought I would walk over here and show him someone who looks like him!” I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in my life.