Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Tourism Malaysia Please Take Note

Sunday November 11, 2007

What’s truly ‘Asia’ about Malaysia

Sometimes, the view is clearer from further away. What we often fail to appreciate, one of our friends from the Philippines sees in us.

IT was a hot Saturday afternoon when I decided to go to the mall. The cool air-conditioning of the mall and the thought of licking an ice cream on a cone promised a welcome respite from the oppressive heat.
At the moment, I am in my beloved country, the Philippines, for a summer vacation.
As I turned a corner of a display window, my ob-gyn (obstetrician-gynaecologist) came into view.
She was happy to meet me and so I was just as glad to see her. She had delivered four of my children and was my emotional punching bag when I lost the last child. She never left my side at the hospital until I recovered from the loss.
Meeting her was one of my “hallelujah” moments. We talked and laughed as we updated each other’s life.
Her youngest daughter, also an ob-gyn, came and joined us. This may seem like one for the Guinness Book of Records but her daughter is also my eldest daughter’s ob-gyn.
Somewhere in the conversation, I mentioned that I had lived in Malaysia for almost three years.
Her daughter blurted out a question: “Is it worth going to Malaysia?”
It made me stop in the middle of a sentence. Like a scene in a cartoon show everything stopped with a “toink” sound in my mind.
Before I could answer her, she told me they were going on a sponsored trip, with a choice of either Hong Kong or Malaysia as the destination.
I couldn’t answer her query by telling her how much I was missing Malaysian food, my Malaysian friends, the bus, taxi, LRT rides, my favourite RM5 store in Mid Valley and so much more that is Malaysia.
She would not understand why I began to like spicy food, nor could she imagine the flavours of tasty noodles, juicy big oysters dipped in vinegar with dark sauce, warm wonton soup without chilli and fat freshwater crabs steamed without hot sauce.
She might wonder why I would miss buses, taxis and LRT rides when we have all these in our own country? And what is there in the RM5 store that made it to the list of my favourites?
It reminded me of my American friend who made a brief visit to Malaysia and concluded: “You know, with all these skyscrapers, I haven’t left New York at all.”
Another friend observed: “Malaysia is a mixture of the old and the new.”
Could I convince the young doctor?
Some of my friends visited Malaysia as tourists as part of those three-day-two-night package tours. They saw old and new buildings. They saw development. But they left without tasting the essence that makes Malaysia “truly Asia”.
Like other tourists, holidaymakers and travellers, they saw the star attractions, the Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower, Merdeka Square, the obligatory batik factory and other urban scenic spots.
What they missed were the “back-up singers”, the true pulse of Malaysia.
I told my friends to come back to Malaysia and stay for two weeks. I wanted to show them the Malaysia that is truly Asia.
They came back. My New Yorker friend saw the essence of Malaysia. Another realised Malaysia is not only the mixture of the old and the new. More came as I invited them to travel, shop and see the true Malaysia.
As my friends and I got together, they enjoyed reminiscing their experiences and the sights of Malaysia.
But most of all they will always remember the true image of Malaysia.
They remember the people – the Malays, Chinese, Indians, and also the Filipino Kabayans.
They remember the smiles and the friendliness. They had close encounters with them in the buses, the taxis and the LRT. These Malaysians are truly Asia.
My friends who came to Malaysia have one thing to say; the beauty of Malaysia and its people were more than the thousands of ringgit they spent. Their memories cannot be bought and are not for sale. Their pictures will be collectibles and someday become as priceless as history.
Me? I’m coming back. I’m just finishing my task at home. Right now, I am drooling at the thought of nasi lemak rendang, nasi lemak ayam, cucur udang, pisang goreng dipped in spicy sweet and sour sauce and noodles mixed with belacan.
Last night, I saw Chef Wan on the Living Asia channel cooking roti jala. I can’t wait to taste it with curry.
Yes, Doctor, it is worth going to Malaysia. Go and see how peace and harmony works. Only in Malaysia.
Hello Malaysia! Jalan, jalan, cari makan!

No comments: