Week 32: Adventures in Tapah, KL and the Journey to Terengganu (STE Part 1)

March 6- 12

Monday we had school again. My foot was really really really hurting (the foot I’ve had problems with for the past couple of years) after two days of very light running,  but I guess I hadn’t rested enough following the track meet.

We had hockey practice after school, and on the way home we bought durian!! Durian, that infamous spiky fruit which is illegal on planes and in hotels simply because it smells so bad, has become my new favorite fruit! I really wanted to like it, so after trying it five times, I finally love it!

Tuesday we had an exam in English for the end of the first semester.
Wednesday we spent the day in the English room when classmates had their Malaysian history exam, and we had a bit of an adventure when a squirrel came in the room for a visit.


In the evening, we went to an event for Women’s Day… and I wore a sari after tying it myself! This was a major breakthrough.


That night I went to the Chinese funeral prayers that were being held at the house behind ours. This was the fourth night in a row for the prayers, which included loud music and a very extravagantly decorated house. The family fills the house with large paper cars, clothing, and gold symbols and later burns them after the fourth day of prayers as an offering for the deceased person.


Children/ in-laws wear all black, and grandchildren wear all blue clothing.


The paper structures will later be burned as offerings (including the blue paper car in the background)

The prayers ended after midnight.

On Friday, Ibe and I took the train to Kuala Lumpur.

Our lovely host moms sending us off at the train station

Ibe and I arrived in KL Sentral and went to buy running shoes in the adjacent mall since my previous running shoes somehow caused severe bruising to my toes.

We saw a boy from school in KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur’s massive train station! This was a good example of how nice it is to be an exchange student— while there were many other tourists bustling about confusedly consulting maps, we were greeted by a classmate!

We took a second train to Klang, where we went to the house of an Italian AFS student. We set our things down and showered and later went to a wedding ceremony! The night before a wedding, the bride receives gifts and offerings from friends and family. The offerings, including saris, bangles, candy, fruit, and sweets, are given on metal trays and can only be given by married women.


The bride was covered in henna; during prayers, women rubbed turmeric paste on her arms and face.

IMG_4566IMG_4570I hadn’t seen an Indian wedding before this, so this was wonderful to see!

We watched the prayers for a while and then ate delicious Indian food. Later we played on swings nearby with Matilda and her siblings.

Afterwards, we went to a durian stall! Now that I love durian, I really enjoyed this!

The next morning we— Ibe, Matilda, Margo (another Italian student), and I—  left Klang for the Kuala Lumpur bus station. We missed the first of two trains we had to take, so we took a taxi all the way to the bus station instead. At the bus station we met up with the other AFS students who would be coming to Terengganu for our two-week Short Term Exchange. Each year, students are sent to different states where we stay with temporary host families for two weeks. We were very excited for our Short Term Exchange, as I had wanted to go to Terengganu for a long time!

We had a long bus ride to Terengganu— about eight hours— so we passed the time talking and quietly playing ukulele in the back of the bus. It was great to catch up with all the other students and getting to know them made me realize what a gift it is to meet students from all over the world. By the end of these two weeks, we all had strong friendships with each other from Italy, Hungary, Belgium (but I already knew Ibe), France, and Utah, USA.


Along the way we stopped at a small roadside restaurant (the only bathroom break for the entire eight hours) where we had a delicious traditional Malay lunch.

Once we arrived in Kuala Terengganu (the capital of the state) we met the Terengganu chapter volunteers and our temporary host families. Anna (from Hungary) and I would be staying with Ying, the host daughter of my Tapah family who stayed with us for Deepavali!


Once the others were with their families, Anna, Matteo (from France) and I walked around KT (Kuala Terengganu) with Ying and then went bowling! The bowling alley had just recently opened, and it was very fun.  After a laughably bad start, I somehow came back and won the game!


Later, we got dinner from a food truck market, enjoying live music in a very nice town.


Later, we went to Ying’s house.

The next morning, we slept late. After running some errands, we had a delicious breakfast/lunch/dinner around 4pm consisting of Terengganu delicacies such as laksa (noodles in a sort of spicy seafood curry broth), laksam (different shape of noodles), keropok (steamed or fried fish sticks) and many juices.



Afterward, a photographer friend of Ying came and did a photo shoot of the three of us!



We walked around Chinatown and later met two other students in a 2 Ringgit shop (like a dollar store) and then went to a cafe and had really good salad! We had a great time talking and laughing, all of us excited for going to Redang Island the next day!





One Comment Add yours

  1. saraleewolf says:

    This post sounds like you continue to be intrigued by the culture and the families and friends and that you have established a comfort level that’s satisfying and exciting to you. I’m not at all concerned about your place in the world. YOU are doing it! The photos are dazzling and colorful, along with your lively and detailed descriptions.

    Once again, thank you, Hannah, for sharing this adventure with me/us.


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