Tag Archives: laundry

Touring Malaysia: Transitions down the peninsula

My fellow WorldTeach friend/travel companion Matt and I landed in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. The next few days that followed consisted of roaming the very walkable streets and gazing up in admiration at the Petronas Towers, which seemed to be casting shadows on us everywhere we went. There were some delicious Indian, Chinese and Malay meals with pulled tea (an awesome pouring technique that seems rather dangerous to replicate at home) tossed into the mix, but I spent most of my time in KL in a post-rural Thailand daze. The air-con in restaurants made my food cold (eating indoors, what?). The pollution sent my allergies into a rage (traffic jams?). And I couldn’t for the life of me find fresh fruit (where are all the fruit carts?). Somewhere between leaving Nakhon Phanom on an overnight bus to Bangkok and flying down to KL, I also misplaced something. Bulky clothes? Toiletries? Souvenirs? I wish.

What I lost is much more valuable and difficult to replace than anything filling my overstuffed bags. For the past year teaching has been my life and now that I am completely removed from the environment I grew to love, I feel a loss of purpose and an emptiness where my students once were. Don’t read into this sentiment too much, though, because in many ways I was ready to go. The goodbyes had to come sooner or later. I am also very happy right now as I travel the beautiful country of Malaysia and am excited about returning home to my loved ones in a few short weeks.

We’re now in Melaka, a port city with Dutch, Portugese and English influences, in addition to the country-wide Malay, Indian and Chinese trio. The architecture is beautiful and the food is delicious. I’m really enjoying the chicken rice curry and pineapple tarts, as well as the Malaysian coffees and teas. Though my thoughts often drift to the students and teachers in Pla Pak, I am beginning to replace my nostalgic cap for a traveler’s hat, falling more into a comfortable backpacker routine by the day.

Tomorrow we depart for Penang, an island off the Western coast of the peninsula, about seven hours north of Melaka. Here is where we’ll spend the remainder of our time in Malaysia, before flying back to Bangkok and then to the States. I think it’s about time to check my laundry and assess my packing situation, as I have purchased a few more ┬álast-minute items that will prove to be a challenge fitting in my already over-stuffed backpack!

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Thailand Tribute #3: Mosquito nets

A view of my room from the yoga mat

Today I pay tribute to the mosquito nets I’ve slept under for a year. It has long become second nature to tie up my net each night before going to bed, and unfasten it every morning to avoid hitting it during my sunrise salutations. More than keeping the mosquitoes away from me while I sleep and protecting my bed from the gecko droppings that fall on everything, my mosquito net has become a part of my daily routine that truly distinguishes my life here from the one I left a year ago in the States.

I am quite grateful to have lived in a house with so many amenities, like running water, electricity (and Internet, usually), screens on my bedroom windows, a shower head and a washing machine with spin dry. Most Thai houses lack window coverings, so mosquito nets in those houses are even more of a necessity than mine is to me. I don’t have to take bucket showers if I don’t want to, and even though cold water still comes out of the shower head, it is quite a luxury to have two free hands while bathing. Also, most women in the villages wash their laundry by hand, which is an incredibly manual-intensive job, in case you’ve never tried it yourself. Now I don’t think twice about having to manually rinse my own laundry and line dry everything because I know I have it much easier than most. In addition to these differences, other things like squat toilets, fans, and floor mats are a few more examples of what makes my life here so unique and sets it apart from what is waiting for me at home.

I am so excited to come home to the family and friends I have not seen for a year but I am also nervous about many aspects of the re-entry process that will be more challenging, like eating foods my body is no longer accustomed to, washing laundry in gigantic machines, and falling asleep without the safety net I have grown to love.


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