23 Aug Babymoon: Malaysia (Take One)
FROM SINGAPORE TO MALAYSIA
I just know all of you guys have been waiting on pins and needles for us to finish the story of our Babymoon. I wish we could say we were on top of it and posted all of these in real time, or even that we wrote about all of our adventures in real time. But we didn’t. I blame it on the diving off waterfalls and then diving immediately back into real life. And the squatty potties. I don’t know how it’s their fault, but I now blame all of life’s issues on squatty potties. In any case, let’s pick back up with our first day in Malaysia…
Honest moment: Getting off the plane in Penang, Malaysia was one of the biggest culture shocks of my whole life. I’m not sure I had any particular expectations, but immediately struggling to communicate with the immigration officer (who put some super weird sticker on my passport no one else seemed to get) and then watching our taxi driver almost take out 6 motorbikes as everyone ignored the painted lines on the roads probably wouldn’t have made the list. We got to our hotel (which, I found out, was not anywhere close to George Town like I thought when I made the reservation), and I was starving, scared, and, in my fear, just a littttle bit grumpy.
To this day, I still have no idea how our taxi driver knew where to go. I had written the hostel address, but the lady at the taxi desk looked at it for literally half a second and then never gave it to the driver. But in any case, Nazz greeted us at the front desk, and she immediately started joking with us. In English. Again, y’all, this was my first trip in a predominantly non-English-speaking country, so as simple as it sounds, hearing English calmed my nerves. We didn’t meet many English speakers the first few days of our trip (which was odd because when we got back to Malaysia for Round Two, pretty much everyone we met spoke at least a little), so the fact that Nazz was not only speaking English but confidently joking around with us made me feel so much better and like maybe we could survive 22 hours all by ourselves.
After we checked in, we walked right out the front door again to find food. We had no cell service while out of the country, so we had no maps and no indication of where we should go. Crossing the two-lane-turned-six-lane road would have ended in certain death (we hadn’t yet been trained in the art of crossing Southeast Asian streets), so that left McDonalds – half a mile down on the left, over a massive drainage ditch and requiring us to venture 15 feet into the busy road – or Tesco. We decided on Tesco.
And now we have a new-found love for Tesco. Though it was disconcerting to see fish heads as a buffet option, we quickly found one of the food vendors with photos next to the menu items and proceeded to gesture wildly with the guy taking orders since neither us nor he spoke even a word of each other’s languages. All three of us ended up laughing together as Brian and I pointed at photos and said (in terrible accents, by the way), “Nasi gorang USA!” We grabbed some fresh squeezed juice and later realized we spent less than $3.00 for our entire meal. That’s what the Troyers call winning, y’all.
After we ate, we wandered the aisles, fascinated at all the brands we share with Southeast Asia and all the ones we don’t. We also picked up a super cute shirt for Giddy!
We returned to the hostel, got a few hours of sleep, and headed back down to our taxi around 3:55 a.m…only to find that the front desk had accidentally booked our 4:00 a.m. taxi for 4:00 P.M.! After a few scary minutes and a blessed taxi driver who was awakened in the middle of the night just for us, we made it to the airport. We checked in, found our gate, and I started to feel my heart rate slowly decreasing to normal again, finally coming to terms with the different road signs, languages, and keeping up with the (literally) 5th of 6 flight schedules…until I had my first run-in with a squatty potty.
Ok, real life scenario: Let’s say there are 2 “Western toilets” and 2 squatty potties in the bathroom. You’re next in line and the dreaded squatty potty door opens and is now the only stall available. Are you culturally obligated to use that one, or can you wait for the Western toilet? Is it rude to subject the person behind you to the squatty? Purely hypothetical question, but how ridiculous would it be if you walked into the squatty potty stall, simply stood there for an appropriate amount of time, exited the stall and washed your hands, and then got back in line to use a Western toilet? What if you repeated said scenario three times before the blessed Western toilet stall opens? Asking for a friend.
McDonalds and Starbucks were a very welcome, very tiny piece of home as we walked out onto the runway and boarded our plane for Indonesia. We’d come back to Malaysia (which was super cool once I got past the holy-crap-I’ve-never-been-anywhere-outside-North-America-and-Iceland), but for now we were Bali-bound!