“Welcome”, that’s what it means. You see it everywhere here….shops, hotels, restaurants and on entering new towns. For me it will really sum up my experience of Malaysia. This had been the most hospitable country we have travelled in so far. Amazing.
It was on our second hotel check in, The Silver Inn at Batu Phahat, that an old guy, struggling with his mobility, first approached us. “Welcome to Malaysia”. That was it. No long chat, Just a quick question to ask where we were from and he was off again. It had been an experience that has continued throughout Malaysia. Cars and trucks beep. Children wave and shout hello. Scooter riders chat at traffic lights. Random strangers show real acts of kindness and generosity.
We were on our way to Melaka where a local restaurant owner refused to charge us for breakfast. We had chatted to him as we tucked in to a typical Malay plate of rice, spicy sambhal and side dishes of fresh greens, peanuts and dried anchovies….toast here was rare! Having studied himself Glasgow and with a son also now in the UK there was plenty to talk about. On leaving he even supplied us with a selection of Malay sweets, flavoured with Rose essence and full of sugar…..perfect for a quick energy boost.
In addition to this we would continue to find that on two more occasions our breakfast needs were fully catered for. Another small family run, road side cafe refused payment and a second stranger, Hacheram, bought us dosa and coffee at Batu caves. We were taken to dinner in Kuala Lumpur by Alexander, a facebook friend from the early days of the World Cycle Challenge and an old guy, who spoke no English and didn’t announce he was about to treat us, got us cold drinks on another refreshment stop.
People often ask us whether we feel safe as we make our journey. Do we not worry about robbers, of other vehicles etc etc. Of course, we are reasonably sensible….we avoid cycling in the dark, we are far from flashy and despite no wing mirrors I am pretty aware of what may be going on around me. While often warned to look our for the baddies it’s the goodies out there can really take you by surprise.It is so humbling to see such warmth and kindness being given to a complete stranger.
I am very much of the opinion that in embarking on any trip such as this, you have to take the view that most people in the world are good people. Regardless of money and personal circumstance the human race is generally kind and most individuals are proud of their country, their heritage and their people.
No one ever warned me to look out for the good guys but trust me, that can be just as scary.
Such kindness will never be forgotten.