Malaysia, a country that is known for its incredible diversity, colonial history, stunning nature, home to many beautiful yet endangered species, dying remainders of rainforest, and some of the most friendly people I have ever encountered. Many colonizing countries have wanted their share of it, including the Portuguese, the British and the Dutch, all leaving their trademark in the architecture and culture, the language and the vibe.
A welcoming shore for many hopeful Chinese souls, who came down here over the dangerous South China Sea, seeking for a better future, flooding into Penang, Malacca and Singapore (when it was still part of the federation). Indians who, under the shelter of the British crown, streamed in looking for work and changed the culture of the country forever. This big melting pot of Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Europeans, with its mix of religions and rites, all in this stunning natural setting – what a beautiful cultural dance, that was once more interrupted by the works and aftermath of the Japanese in World War II.
As with every place I visit, I created a very unique personal bond with Malaysia. One that had taught me just as many things about the country as it did about myself. After a month of cultural adventures and getting to know this wonderful people, culture and history, Malaysia has helped me grow and learn at a speed unknown to me. Here are the three biggest lessons that I took away from this last month living in and traveling from Kuala Lumpur.
- True magic happens in the energy field of differences! Diversion and inclusion are not necessarily opposites but can coexist in beautiful ways. Although there are challenges that this clash of cultures produces, the general vibe of the country is a happy, positive and forward-looking one that invites to dream about what could be possible.
- You don’t always have to reinvent yourself from scratch if you are offered beautiful ingredients! The Malay culture is a result of a true melting pot of different cultures, and although you can spot the British, Dutch and Japanese influence in many situations and places, the Malaysian people made it their own and created a beautiful new invention of that specific mix. Unique cultures can grow out of imitating and mixing others, if you allow yourself to combine these beautiful ingredients to a new masterpiece.
- Don’t get caught up in the past, look forward and seek the best possible outcome of your situation! Although the history of the country has been one of colonization and even abuse to a certain extent, Malaysia has focused on creating their future and moving beyond the scare of Japanese invasion and British rule. Of course, independence needs a long phase of support, and there are still many political and social situations needing to be overcome, but the simple fact that Malaysia only looks forward and invites every culture, even the ones formerly suppressing them, to be part of their development as a country is truly inspirational.
Malaysia, it was hard to leave you, and I am excited to see you evolve, just as I have evolved and become a better and more educated person only by encountering your magic. Terima kasih for all of your lessons, and hope to see you again soon!