Well, to my dismay, I have failed in the promise I had made at the beginning of this blogging journey. It has been two+ weeks since my last post. I had started writing this post last Monday, when I returned from my trip from Malacca, Malaysia. However, the sore throat that I brought back with me from my trip turned into a pretty bad case of tonsillitis, and I stayed pretty bed ridden until about…two days ago. (But the different kinds of soup I got to try were ridiculous: red bean, black bean, green bean, lotus flower, other varieties that I forgot the names of and different forms of ramen noodles). It was really difficult to eat and drink for about five days, but I am just happy to be back and in action.
At first, I didn’t have the best experience with the medical system over here (but this is definitely due to the fact that I am crazy and tried to self-diagnosis myself. Also, it’s due to the fact that I watched 127 Hours during my respite and really freaked myself out about being alone. Foolish move on my part).
After two days of trying to feel better naturally on Monday and Tuesday, I showed up to the University Health Center at 8:30 sharp Wednesday morning. The doctor looked at my throat for 10 seconds and prescribed a low dosage of antibiotics. It was the quickest medical meeting I have ever had, and at first, I was quite happy (though slightly concerned by the rapid diagnosis). By Friday morning, though, my throat was worse, I sounded like a choked up emotional wreck (my tonsils were touching, I couldn’t help it!), and I returned to the doctor. Another 20 second meeting, and I was out with a new dosage of stronger antibiotics. I returned home to start reading more about my symptoms and disease. I also read about complications of rheumatic fever and retropharyngeal abscesses (both of which I never had). While it was true that I probably would be just fine if I took the medication, I started thinking of disaster scenarios and returned to the doctor. Have you all seen 127 hours!?
In Singapore, you have to have a referral memo from your general practitioner to be allowed to visit a specialist at a hospital. Although I probably did not need specialist consultation, I wanted the second option just in case I kept getting worse and worse. By this point, I was showing signs of a fever, my face was pretty red, and I looked a little disheveled.
Healthiest stray cat I saw in Malacca 😦
I really was feeling quite bad and didn’t know why the medicine wasn’t working. Then a doctor from the local university hospital walked up and asked me to participate in his study about airborne transmission of disease. He promised to take more time to look at my throat and run a culture.
Two hours later, I was 50 Singapore dollars richer and 100 times more confident in the treatment prescribed by my original doctor. In the end, I really just wanted someone to talk me through this disease that I had never had (though extremely common) when I was 24 hours away from home and me familia. One day later, I was feeling great. Therefore I pose this questions: was it a medical or psychological cure?
(It was definitely the antibiotics that cured me; I believe in antibiotics).
But enough talk about depressing diseases, I want to talk about my trip!
I just got back from a really nice 3 day trip to Malaysia! (I originally wrote this the Monday I returned, a week and a half ago). I traveled about 229 kilometers (only 142 miles) on bus to a city on the western coast of Malaysia, just south of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city. The Malaysian people were great, my travel companions came from all over the world, and I received my first travel stamp in my passport (besides the one I received for entering Singapore…). But seriously, although the city was touristy, it offered a great first look at Malaysia and was a nice contrast of the quaint with the touristic.
First night in Malacca!
The trip was planned by a group of local students in the Singapore area for the three universities on the island that welcome exchange students into their doors. Besides NUS, which I attend, students from NTU (Nanyang Technological University), and SMU (Singapore Management University and my dad’s Alma matter…) joined in the festivities. We paid a lump sum about 2 weeks before the event, and left it up to the 7-8 organizers to plan our accommodations and activities. A week before departing, we started hearing that the student organizers brutally overpriced the trip and were just in to make a few bucks themselves. To a certain extent this may be true, but I was completely hands off in all of the planning. And keeping 150+ international students from all different walks of life happy deserves some kind of reward.
Small portion of the HUGE group
The bus ride was pretty short, and playing 20 questions along the way made it shorter. (I had never heard of this game before my travel buddy and friend Zach taught it to me. I lost ) We arrived pretty late on Friday night, and after eating some chicken rice balls (a traditional Malaysian dish) at a WESTERN bistro (which didn’t make sense to me either), we walked to our lodgings. Now I must say, the two nights + 1 nap that I had in my room has been the best sleep I have gotten in my time abroad. Compared to my stone stiff mattress in Singapore, the mattress here felt like I was floating. It was great.
Temple close to our Harmony Hostel
The first morning, we participated in a traditional tea ceremony and got a tour of a Chinese historical museum. As it turns out, Malacca is/was an important spot for trading between the east and the west.
Glad to see Texas getting a good rep....in Malacca
(Before Singapore started dominating trade in the 1800s and ignited a bitter rivalry for the ages – that’s a little dramatic..but somewhat true.) Its location acted as a nice stopping point for Persians and Africans to stop before going east and a great place for Chinese to stop before heading further west. Thus, Malacca (Melaka) became a trading center itself. In the Museum, we learned all about the great admiral Cheng Ho (he has like 3 other names in Chinese too…it’s really confusing). We learned how he was a great Chinese diplomat, a nice guy, and a eunuch. Really, the tour guide didn’t want to stop talking about the latter fact. It got to the point of creepiness.
Kelly with a local family
All in all though, the guides and our Malaysian hosts were great. As Zach put it, “They are a proud and confident people. That’s a great combination.” And it really is. Everyone was very eager to talk about their history and their past. Now, of course, this was their job, but they held themselves differently than other tour guides I have had. I think it is important to take pride in where you are from, and then, to have the confidence to be able to communicate your culture to others. In the end, you will teach everyone around you about yourself, act as a great ambassador to your culture and your country, as well as learn a lot about others during the mutual conversations you have and relationships that you can build.
A view in Malacca
The rest of the trip was free time and at our leisure (or as our tour guides said – ‘free and easy’ time). “Alright guys, you all are free and easy. Have fun!”
So for me, this consisted of exploring the relatively small city with some new and old friends. I met some great new people and spent time with some of the friends that came with. I ended up hanging out with an Italian, lots of British, two guys from Finland, a bunch of Germans, one or two people from Denmark, a Belgian, a Norwegian, Chinese, a friend from Croatia, and of course Americans (Found some more fellow Longhorns). Similar to what I mentioned above, I found that learning how to communicate about yourself and where you are from is an extremely important skill to have for the conversations I have had with these individuals (and probably just important in general to whoever you want a build a relationship with). And for me, it is much easier said than done. I have gotten asked questions that seem simple, but they end up being harder to explain in a concise amount of words (similar to this last paragraph).
The all powerful..duck?
In honesty, one of the great parts about being abroad is getting to meet people from all over the world. My first notions and goals when studying aboard were: I came here to see Asia, in particular South East Asia. I had no idea that I was going to have the opportunity to converse with people from ALL around the world. Now this mainly has meant Europeans for me, but that is still a great opportunity. It is giving me a new perspective (mainly just bigger perspective) of how I and the US fit into the humongous world. This alone, is an invaluable experience.
Malacca Palace -- birthplace of the soap opera (most dramatic museum I have ever been to)
I would have talked more about the specifics of my Malacca trip, but I think I find that I enjoy writing more about people than activities. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves! (this is more of a cop-out because I am not the best of storytellers…lol as I have told many of you all before).
Getting my Archery on in a local Mall in Malacca, doing the usual
On top of the Malaysia trip, I will list out some things that I have done since due to the fact that I haven’t blogged in FOREVER.
Activities Experienced: Watched 10+ movies while sick, traveled to Arab street during Ramadan celebrations, walked along Sentosa beech, went to the Night Safari, ate some delicious prata with condensed milk at Spize, ate moon cake and made a lantern for the mid-autumn festival, walked alone around little India and surrounding neighborhoods, and took 50 pills of various medications 😀
Kite festival at Marina Bay
Sunset on Sentosa
Mid-Autumn festival draws near!
Temple East of Downtown
stumbled onto an Arts school..really graphic photo collection on display (and the camera in the room followed me the whole time I was looking at the display)
My entrance into Little India...
The Night Safari!
Lights at Night Market during Ramadan
I’ll report back soon! Let me know if there is something you want a blog post about! I have a lot I could write since it has been so long, but only want to write what you want to read.
(I need a better header. Anyone know how to make a header out of normal sized pictures?)
All the best,