To Break, To Heal, and To Come Back Stronger: A Short Trip to Malaysia

Yours truly's short visit to Malaysia last week was not what I had thought it would be. "Probably no more than o r d i n a i r e," I had claimed silently while packing the night before. The day of the trip was joyously celebrated not because of the thought of going abroad and having fun, but rather for the break from my current daily life that was inseparable from the plan. 

It turned out that, like so many things, I could be more wrong. For starters, the 4D3N trip became special in so many ways: it was my first time going abroad without my parentsI felt super grown up; I had a lot of reflecting to thorough and thorough think about my take on inapt things in life; all the while also finding solace in truly believing that God knew best, that everything would turn out even more marvelous in the end.

As groundbreaking as it may sound now, I did not, however, make the most of this trip on the very first day. Our flight was scheduled to take off at 04.20 in the morningit was obviously torture for a sleepyhead, but since I had a thing for early morning adventures all was quickly forgottenand so we arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at about 08.30 (GMT+8). The lunch following the arrival was mediocre at best, though excitement had started to bloom when we headed off to Genting, a place that was more or less 6000 feet from sea level.

Genting was beautiful. It reminded me of my own hometown, a sentiment that was clearly welcome anytime. Our travel to the highland was mostly spent with our yearning for some more rest, though thankfully, half an hour before arriving our local tour guide called Nenek Mona woke us up to tell the story of Lim Goh Tong, the man behind the famous Genting Highland.

Nenek Mona's story was what actually fueled me to visit the famous Sky Casino, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that that place smelled like money and luxury. For a second I was transported to Season 5 Episode 24 of Friends: The One in Vegas Part 2, and I felt like an outsider watching a live-action movie in the making.

But well, we were not for so long there as we understood nothing. My friends and I decided to wander around the stores in Sky Avenue for a few hours, watched the light play and took a video or two, and ate cinnamon churros because nothing was better in taming your desire to chew than sugar. Day one was closed with dinner at our hotel and a night night talk with some friends.

I woke up the next morning with haze as my room's viewbet it would look beautiful if seen from afar. Breakfast was okay. I used my jeans jacket because it was colder than ever. And this was when the trip got more interesting. 

My momshe's terrified of heights. I had always (and boldly) assumed that the same fear was not in my gene, though this experience sort of made me think otherwise. We went to Genting Premium Outlet that day with a unique choice of transportation: cable car.

I sat next to the carriage door, and the fact that we were so high up scared me a little bit. It turned out that all I needed was a few crucial minutes to adapt. After a while, I started to get the hang of it and so I became more relaxed. One thing I realized was: being so vulnerable without having the ability to do anything about my current state somehow heightened my sense. The sky was hazy at first, but clear after. The ground underneath us looked so far away yet so green. I wanted to touch it so bad. 

The experience in the cable car, starting from the fear to the relief, unexpectedly became the perfect metaphor for what actually happened next. No one knew about this'twas a secret shared only inside a cryptic story by a dramatic narratorbut let me assure you that a feeling akin to fear of the unknown was scarier than jumping into the unknown itself.

I was blindsided by the emotion that I saw black. I felt an upcoming red flush when I knew I hated a natural hot blush. Uneasiness grew on me, and I realized that unlike before, I needed more than a few minutes to cool down. 

That was when our tour guide told us that we were on our way to Batu Caves, Selangor, and asked those who wanted to climb the colorful 272 stairs to raise their hand. It was a no-brainer for me. I raised my hand after making sure that I was not the only one deciding to climb up. As my name was written as one of the amateur climbers, I was thankful that even though life had given me a bitter pill that day, it provided the remedy almost instantly also.

My intuition, it turned out, was right. While I was taking one step at a time, I thought about a lot of things. I then realized that my take on bagatelle things in life was not always clever as I depended more on my feeling than my brain. I feared easilywhat an important issue to work on, I know. My vulnerability, however, heightened my sense once again. It allowed me to pinpoint what I had been denying all along, and I finally admitted everything with no shame.

I can proudly claim that I reached the top of the stairs, which sprang a beautiful combination of relief and amazement: of the scenery and of all the steps I had to undergo. Adopting the moment as another perfect metaphor, the journey to heal myself will be long and bumpy. Even now, I'm still learning how to. But I believe that everything happens for a reason, that what's not good for you will be replaced by what's best. I'm excited to see what's in store for me in my next path.

What was in store for me on my way back down the stairs of Batu Caves, however, was a mischievous macaque. If I can proudly claim that I have climbed Batu Caves before, I can also add that I almost got robbed by a monkey there. A macaque must have assumed that there was food inside a plastic wrap peeking out from my tote bag (which in reality only contained pieces of cotton). A small quarrel happened between me and the monkey. I won though.

The next few destinations were not as memorable, but I did enjoy the rainy Kuala Lumpur's weather. As a celebration, and to make up for the lack of fun the vibes radiated, my friends and I decided to go on a night stroll in Bukit Bintang. Some of us durian lovers decided to buy 210 MYR worth of Musang King in Jalan Alor, and though it tasted delicious and extra buttery with no moisture whatsoever, I didn't think there was a huge difference between Musang King and the other durians flavor-wise.

And with that went all the chill and my jeans jacket that I had been wearing a lot in the first two days. If Genting reminded me of my hometown, Malacca City felt a lot more like Jakarta. It was super hot when we boarded the Melaka River Cruise. The view was pretty, but I wondered if we went for it at the wrong time. My bet: it was prettier at night, with the lights on and the dark blue sky.

A short stroll in Chinatown proved that it was worth the heat and hustle though. I was so full that I didn't buy the widely-talked cendol durian in San Shu Gong (and I regret it deeply), but I now know where to go next if I happen to visit Malaysia again someday.

I think it suffices to say that the trip was great. It was a journey of breaking up and healing, of letting go and coming back stronger. I would even go as far as to label it a memorable trip in its way: a series of finding and curing my inner self from within.

If I ever get the chance to visit Malaysia again in the future, I know for sure where to start. I will probably laugh in nostalgia that day, visiting in my head the day I went there for the first time. A different person every day, like a mirror ball circling every corner of the room, hopefully a better person too.