Selamat Datang: welcome to Malaysia

Even after being a very popular tourist destination, Malaysia is still all the same. It has to offer busy streets, beautiful beaches, wonderful street arts, museums and exquisite dining options. Sheikh Sadaf Tasin chooses Malaysia as his first abroad travel destination and shares his experience with New Age Youth.

A famous street art at Penang, Malaysia.

A famous street art at Penang, Malaysia.

WHEN, my high school friend, Maheenul Islam, who was nearing his graduation in Monash University in Malaysia, told me that, ‘Come here and you wouldn’t need a hotel as you can stay at my place for free,’ it was too big an opportunity to let go of.  So in this January, I made my journey to the land which is popularly known to be ‘Truly Asia’.

This was my first experience of travelling abroad and I was all solo. My mother helped me pack and handed me a handsome sum of money but all she could only accompany me till immigration. Well, the three-hour plane ride was a short one.

The City of Kuala Lumpur greeted me with rain. And the first thing I encounter here in Kuala Lumpur International Airport, KLIA is ‘Selamat Datang’ which means welcome to Malaysia. I had to spend a couple of hours to complete the immigration process after getting off the plane.

Finally, after all the hurdles and waiting, I met my high school best friend. We were overjoyed seeing each other. I was scheduled for a nine day visit. But we still had no plans regarding what to do or where to go. The whole trip was a collection of impromptu plans. I reached KL, early in the morning and after roaming around my friend’s residence in Sunway we started for Pulau Pangkor that very night. Pulau means island in Malay.

Writer in front of anotehr street art.

Writer in front of anotehr street art.

Pangkor is a less glamorous destination for tourist in Malaysia compared to the likes of KL, Langkawi and Penang. We stayed in a cottage beach resort which is run by a Tamil couple. Pangkor is a small place, it can be explored within a day. You can take an iconic pink taxi and travel to all the tourist attractions like the local mosque, the Chinese Temple and the 16th century Dutch fort. I had my first snorkeling experience here. Also Hornbill feeding is a popular activity to enjoy.

But before I went to Pangkor, I was most excited to see the planktons. These are tiny sea creatures which light up with a blue light and make the sea beaches look like sky full of stars. We didn’t have good news to begin with as our taxi driver, who was a local, informed us that he has seen nothing such in his life. So after the day was over we visited the beach with no hope whatsoever and as expected we did not see any planktons. As I flung my sandals on the beach late at night, I saw the sands light up! Exactly, what I saw in Google images when I searched ‘Planktons in Pangkor’. I screamed at the top of my voice and my friends joined the hunt. We found out, if we create disturbance on the sand the planktons light up. The scenes were amazing and we were filled with joy. It was literally like the sky has descended down on the beach.

Next we went to Penang.  If I had to compare a place of Bangladesh with Penang, I would say Puran Dhaka. The old buildings and architecture gave the place an old town vibe to it. The street arts were an amazing feature of this island. One has no option but to be mesmerised by it. There was also this place called upside down museum where the whole place is well, let’s say upside down! Penang also probably had the best sea food I have ever tasted. The hike to the monkey beach light house is also a must. Even though lactic acid will fill up your feet with pain but the view is worth it. Penang is pretty happening at night as well. We took a stroll along the street of our hotel. And saw people of all cultures and colours having a good time with loud music playing. Even though we missed the Penang hill as it was closed due to maintenance.

So after Penang, we decided to go to Langkawi. However, a mistake while booking the ferry tickets to Langkawi gave us real goosebumps. He had tickets of wrong date, the other option was to take a taxi and go there which would set us back an extra six thousand taka. I asked my friend to stay calm and call the agency he booked the tickets from and miraculously they were able to replace our tickets to our desired ones. Finally with that sorted out we were off to Langkawi.

Langkawi was a vibrant place. After reaching there we spent a night under a starry sky on the beach doing , absolutely nothing.  There was this bar where they had bean bags on the beach. Fruit juices, loud music playing and lying down on a bean bag with the waves crashing on the beach, this was surely one of the highlights of my trip. Other than that, Langkawi also had cable cars and 3D museum with laser shows which were pretty amazing.

The last day was spent in KL, shopping. This was not my favourite part as I am not a keen shopper but had to buy gifts for friends and family back home. In between we managed time to visit KL Bird Park and see all the beautiful and majestic birds over there and also visited the Grand Petronas twin tower.

I am glad that Malaysia was the first land I visited outside the borders of Bangladesh. You can find all kinds of people there. The Tamil couple, the young British couple who took our photos after several failed attempts at Penang and the Arab lady who asked me to take her photo in Langkawi and asked loads of questions about Bangladesh will remain a part of my memory for the rest of my life.

Sheikh Sadaf Tasin is a student of BRAC University.



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