Week 8

19-25 September

This week I visited Ipoh, a Buddhist cave temple, and a nearby waterfall, got second place in a kolam competition, was featured on the front cover of a magazine, and saw some other local attractions. It was quite an eventful week!

Ilaria and her parents stayed with us some days this week, also visiting Perhentian Islands and Singapore.

There was a competition one day after school this week for creating kolam, beautiful Indian art made using rice.

Making kolam is a constant cycle of really hoping that someone doesn’t sneeze or step right there in the middle of your art, as well as that you don’t accidentally destroy the entire thing while you’re working on shifting rice around, while also appreciating the fun of making it and the beauty of the art. After some students helped us dye our rice with watercolor paint, Ibe (other AFS student), our friend Yati, and I worked together to make our kolam following a design I drew.

Our group— the only group of non-Indian students, who had also never had any exposure to kolam before— was awarded second place! We were very surprised and still in disbelief that we somehow did not step in our art or spill colored rice all over it.

Coloring the rice

Ilaria and her parents came to visit the school (which she had attended in 2012-13 as the first AFS student at SMKDPPK)

After school, we went to a Chinese Buddhist cave temple in Ipoh

Earlier on this day I had found out that a family friend was dying, so I was really sad, but being in/ praying/ meditating in such a peaceful place helped me to say goodbye. I lit this candle in our friend’s honor

After the temple, we visited Kellie’s Castle, a famous historical landmark that is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Kellie, a British man who tried to make his fortune and build a castle in Malaysia but only partially succeeded.

After the castle, we visited a historical site with an abandoned tin mining rig, one of two remaining intact in the entire world. The ship used to be used for trawling the bottom of a huge lake, but that lake (like the many others nearby that were used for mining) has mostly dried up. The name of the state I live in, Perak, means “silver”, a reflection of how big the mining industry was in Malaysia’s past.

Cafeteria where we had a delicious dinner

The next day at sinamrobik class, I found out that I was on the front cover of a nationwide Tamil magazine!


Amma took Ilaria’s parents and I in search of banana leaves on which to have a meal, and on the way we visited a basketmaking place near our house. These baskets are sold for use at the Cameron Highlands. The baskets are sold for about 1 USD each. The aunty who makes them gets about 8 USD each day working full time. 

Splitting bamboo to make strips that are used for basket production

We visited the Tapah fire station (Balai Bomba), where we were graciously welcomed and given a tour.

Eventually, we did find banana leaves, and we had a delicious meal at home that had been cooked by my aunt Kanaka Periamma. I’ve started writing recipes in a notebook, which everyone back home in the US is probably happy about. There are a lot of things I’m excited to cook!

Amma, Appa, Ilaria, and her parents went to Penang. Ibe spent the night at our house and then the next morning, Anne took us to Ipoh! We walked along the Ipoh Heritage Trail (until we got bored of it/ got slightly confused, when we explored the amazing surrounding area and eventually walked to the shopping mall)

We played Upwords in Malay! (With the help of a dictionary)

We visited a optical illusion art gallery. Most of these photos do not have props; it’s just wall/ floor paintings! (Only the kitchen scene has tables/ cupboards)

Panglima Lane, a famous alley with shops and stalls

Raindrop cake! An extremely cool product of food science

The most amazing and incredibly exciting SALAD ever


I find the No Entry signs here very amusing (and a little worrisome), since they all depict trespassers being gently escorted out of the area at gunpoint


On Sunday, we said goodbye to Ilaria’s parents after visiting the beautiful Lata Kinjang waterfall in the morning and then having a nice banana leaf meal at home. img_8640

Oil palm, Malaysia’s most important export. Palm oil is made from the white inside pods in this fruit. There are palm oil plantations all over the place.


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