Week 15

This week I started school exams, and later went to the beach and to my host brother’s graduation. 

We were invited to attend a huge Deepavali open house at a fancy hotel in Kuala Lumpur that was hosted by two government officials, including the Dato’ that Amma works closely with. 

The MIFA Malaysian Indian Football Association (soccer) players were also present at the event. We had seen them play in a final match in Ipoh a few weeks before, so it was pretty exciting when the professional football players came up to us and asked for pictures, definitely different from what I’ve experienced in the US. Perks of being a foreigner wearing a sari!

Back to my non-celebrity life:

This week I had EXAMS! Since Malaysin school operates on a calendar year schedule, the year-end exams are held in November, and we get the month of December off. Over about three weeks, students are tested in every subject. I took chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, English, and Bahasa Malaysia* 1 exams. 

Malaysian exams are graded so that 70% or above is in the A category, and anything above 40% is passing. 

Aside from my 50% in chemistry (I’m actually still impressed I passed; Malaysian Form 4 chemistry is more advanced than what I’d learned, but other subjects are about the same level as what I learned in the US— with exceptions for the Malay language, Islam religious class, and Malaysian history, of course). I didn’t take exams in those subjects; during the BM1 exam, the teacher asked Ibe and I to just write an essay in English. I actually somehow managed to get the highest grades in the class in math, physics, biology, and —surprise surprise!—English. 

Cards I made
One day after school when Ibe and I were in a small shop in Tapah Road, a man from a nearby shop gave us these bananas (for free)! I was so excited because ever since the 200-page book I read about bananas, I’m fascinated by seeing all the cool new varieties of this berry. This was a good example of the Malaysian hospitality we often experience

This weekend, we went to Port Dickson and then to Melaka— one of my favorite places! 

Saturday night, Amma, Appa, two aunts, and I drove to Port Dickson and stayed with my Appa’s sister, whom I call Athai (Aunt). 

The next morning, WE WENT TO THE BEACH!!! It was only for about 20 minutes, but I was sooo excited to finally see one of the famous glorious beaches of Malaysia. We had fun seeing tiny crabs, splashing around in the water, and taking pictures. 

Later, we went to the palm oil plantation where my Appa grew up. His parents worked harvesting palm oil pods, and he did the same while he wasn’t in school. 

Malaysia’s Indian population largely comes from the palm oil estates, as Indians were brought to Malaysia for this challenging work. 

We visited the temple, where he saw many of his childhood friends. This was a really neat experience, and it made me realize what amazing opportunities having a host family provides. Western tourists have probably never stood where I did, going to a temple with people I call family and eating delicious Indian food in the middle of a Malaysian palm tree farm, just a short drive from the beaches that tourists experience. 

Later, we drove to Melaka. 

We walked around Jonker  Street and saw some of Melaka Sunday night. 

Monday morning, I went for a run through Melaka. It was so beautiful, and I loved it! (Aside from the part where I was hissed at by a reptile that  looked like a tiny crocodile; but seeing the early morning hilltop view of the city from a fort, running through the so-called Forbidden Garden, viewing the beautiful murals along the river, and watching people practicing tai chi made it amazing!)  

I didn’t have my phone to take pictures, but this is from the last time I was in Melaka: 

Part of the view from the hilltop fort

Later, my host brother had his graduation from the Technical Univeristy of Malaysia in Melaka. 

View from the hotel
Snow ice, a really cool, delicious dessert; it surprises me that it hasn’t made it to the US yet!
Jonker Street

And that’s the end of this week! 

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