My first journey abroad, part II

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In Malaysia
In Malaysia

[Ed. note: This is the followup of My first journey abroad]

I spent the whole of the fifteen days and nights alone. I did not go back to my habitation. This was my first time away from my land, my city and my home. It was a never-ending dream that only now I had been able to wake up.
 I could not imagine how hectic and packed it had been for me during the last few days, to be able to even scratch my head if I felt the need was not an opinion; as, I firstly, had the responsibility of the educational committee and spending all days preparing, presenting, meeting and discussing issues as well as many other things.

While participating in the International Conference “Evolution for Palestine”/ Kuala Lumpur

Naturally, because humans are social beings, I got to know many people from different origins easily, during my time in Malaysia – specifically Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, and Arabs. Sometimes I would get someone to take a photo for me or, if I got lost, guide me to specific places. When asked me of my origin, I was greatly shocked to find out that most people would say it was their first time hearing about Palestine. Few would know about Gaza but it was their first time hearing about Palestine! They would start telling me about the latest two wars against Gaza.


I would hear many wonderful things about Malaysian food, but compared with Gazan, it was a huge disappointment. It was not at all the appropriate time to make a hunger strike and to remain steadfast. It had been more than five days since I had last had a delicious bite of delicious Gazan food. 
On the fifth day, we, for the first time, went to a Lebanese restaurant called “Al Rousha”. I noticed the tiny Palestinian Homos dish, I thought it would be the real Palestinian homos with the same flavor and taste. Yet, it was not. Unfortunately, every time I went to a restaurant there was the same dish; bread, Ice Lemon Tea, Sprite, Carmel and some fruits mixed with salt or bizarre spices. We had not eaten in any Palestinian restaurant. This was not because we do not have time or money but because we did not see any Palestinian restaurants. As a result of this, it seemed that opening one would have been a good idea.

Internet and Electricity Problems 

I thought that the internet crisis was merely a Gazan problem. Yet, we stayed twenty-four hours without net connection, in Malaysia. We also stayed for six hours without electricity. I intended to fully charge my laptop but after more than two hours it was only charged 50%. At one other point you could not plug your device in to allow it to charge, until you’d placed a piece of metal that would connect your device to the electricity. It was definitely not like the electricity we have in Gaza, but much less.


There was a teammate of mine who was trying to learn English. As a result of this, I was asked to be his translator. During one point, he was trying to speak up, his first sentence was, “I want to speak with a good accident”, rather than using the word ‘accent’ he used the word ‘accident.’ 
During another time, while staying in Duta Vista Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, we are all feeling sleepy, one of the girls went to the room that the three of us shared. The other girl and I went to the lobby to speak with our friends while the third one went to our apartment, closed the door, and slept in the room. The reception was out of the hotel, so we were forced to spend all night and until 4.30am in the lobby. Seeing as the only access we had to our room was the key that our friend had taken and had accidentally slept with.

Visiting International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM)

Our delegation visited two universities, which included The International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) and LimKokWing. The latter being private, where all its walls have inscriptions of different topics so students, when they have spare time, can go spend hours reading them. There are more than 150 Palestinian students studying at IIUM, which is a fairly big number. During an agreement between us and the university, it was announce that there will be a conference held in Egypt, in which all Malaysian universities will at least offer one scholarship to a Palestinian student.

Warm Welcome in My State

Isn’t it interesting to have a state with the same name as you, and stay in it for two days? It was a quite unbelievable moment to have the chance to speak in front of the Major of ‘my’ state, Malaka. It was just simply an amazing moment when I said, “My name is Malaka”. The Major along with all attendants clapped for me and warmly welcomed me by saying, “Malaka, welcome to your state.” 
Touring around Malaka and seeing with my own eyes cars carrying Palestinian flags and the Palestinian map that were on many of the walls, was simply a moment I can never put into words.

Weather & Sea

We saw all four seasons in one day. This is why Malaysia is such a green country. The best thing was when it became too hot that we could not even endure the weather and then suddenly it started raining dogs and cats. The guys would joke around by saying this was because Malaka was happy and crying as we arrived in it.

In Malaka, ‘my’ State, the first place we went to was the sea, although it appeared not to be what most would think of. It was brown which drove us crazy as you could not swim in the beach because the water was grey and polluted.

The language and Culture

Malay is the national language of the Malaysian; English is the second language. Similarly, the Malaysian culture is dominant in the country because the Malaysians are the dominant race in Malaysia. Yet other cultures are practiced freely and there is a free intermingling of different cultures. “They welcome everyone to Malaysia to share the experience,” as my Malaysian friend once told me.

Keys to Success

In the Malaysian airport, if you get any service, they will ask for your feedback. There are some screens with five main choices for each; excellent, good, average, poor, and very poor. Not only with words but there are also signs. So if someone does not know English, he/she can use the signs. Everything was written in English as it’s an international language understood by the majority. 

Voluntary work is the main focus point in Malaysia. About 50%-60% of the youth do voluntary work. From youth to youth, they appreciate everything you do collaboratively. 
Another point is that when you want to move from one State into another, you have to stop by a “paid point” in which bus has to pay 5 ringgit i.e. around 2 dollars, a way to reach their economic balance.

The Last Day in Malaysia

Saturday March 10th was my last day in Malaysia. We headed to the Youth Hotel in Malaka where the weather is nicer than KL. Houses are almost all one floor but still there are some buildings in which I can see three or four floors while in KL, I saw buildings with hundreds of floors. I went through a Chinese region where big letters were written on every wall and corner; there were many narrow streets unlike KL; there were very old places and buildings; and the brown Sea. 
I missed the night-ship that day. Instead I was holed up in my room desperately sniffing anything that was pleasant; sweets, jelly cups; which is why I was unable to go downstairs and join the others. They were eating durian and the horrible rotten smell that was intolerable to my sensitive nose. Anything related to Malaysian food and weather would have been a waste of luggage space to me. However, my male-teammates did have a fantastic eating experience. Painful joy was all I could feel. 
At 7:00 pm, we traveled along a very long road that led to the Malaysian airport. The best thing here was the roads. They were divided into two or three or sometimes into four parts so when it is about to be minimized, there was signs, in most cases an arrow, asking you to go to the next part. It took us three hours to reach our destination. I wasn’t sure if I would have the chance to meet two of my friends, Ary and Nazihah, but I did. 
I love the cool dry air it made me finally feel human again. It was time to head home, my sister is now pregnant and I’m pretty eager to see and hug her as I will become an aunt soon. I caught the overnight flight back to Egypt. 
It had been a wonderful experience; though, it probably did not make as much of an impact on me as expected, but it had shown me that I can go overseas, that I can see the rest of the world. 
I feel it. I am leaving now. The Sun is here wishing us farewell, and for the first time I will miss the green lands, the cleanness and clearness.

The Malaysian Airport 

I’m in the airport now; the same place where you enter from is the same gate you will leave from. It was a nice trip despite all obstacles; despite nightly days and full schedules.
 So I am leaving KL now and the best experience I got was when I fed the homeless. Voluntary work is the best thing you can do as you feel the people around you and you know how much you are blessed, even if you are in one of the richest countries in the world where you see progression and happiness everywhere. I see many people with no home and little money to feed themselves. It is so bad that they do not have a place to sleep in or even some money to buy clean cloths. 

My Last Words

We share the same Sky, the same Moon and the same Sun. Why don’t we share the same love. 
Love is a way to succeed.

About Malaka Mohammed

Malaka Mohammed is a Palestinian student from Gaza doing a PhD in Palestine Studies at Exeter University. Follow her on Twitter @MalakaShwaikh.

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