Airports, Hotel, and First Impressions of Malaysia

Before I launch into my journey, here’s one last reminder of Vancouver.

Diver in aquarium at YVR Airport
Diver in aquarium at YVR Airport

After a very long plane ride with my friend, I arrived in Guanzhou BaiYun International airport for my overnight layover.

My friend and I in the plane
Plane buddies!

Thankfully, the airline provided a free hotel stay for us along with free shuttle buses to and from the hotel.

Free Hotel at GuanZhou
Free Hotel at GuanZhou

Arriving in Guanzhou, I started chatting with another traveller, Simon. He told me he was also heading to Malaysia. It was very interesting to chat with Simon because I was struck by how unburdened he was by the monotony of everyday life, and things like education, career, and money. It’s not everyday that I get a chance to meet someone with such a different perspective about life.

Simon + I on shuttle bus to airport
Simon and I on the shuttle bus to the airport

We were treated to a beautiful plane ride to Malaysia. We flew over rivers, islands, and fields of palm trees before landing in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Mystery Island on the way to Malaysia
Mystery Island on the way to Malaysia

From KLIA, Simon and I took the express train to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station, which is a large train and bus station in the capital of Malaysia. Here, I met up with Elwin from the local AIESEC committee in Taylor’s University. Simon and I parted ways, he left in search for a hostel and I remained at the train station to wait for the other exchange participants.

After a couple of hours, Valentin and Dominika arrived in at the station as well. It was very exciting to meet them for the first time. After learning how to buy tokens and take the subway/ train system, we piled into Elwin’s car along with all our luggage and drove to our home for the next few weeks in the suburban city Subang Jaya.

Here, we met Laura, another intern from Germany. That very evening, we went to a birthday celebration for Kelly and Jia Hui, a couple of AIESECers from Taylor’s University.

Exchange Party Welcome Party May 31
Exchange Party Welcome Party May 31. Left to Right: Cathy, Dominika, Kelly, Elwin, Laura, Valentin.

There were a lot of people from AIESEC TU, it was interesting to meet the Malaysian students. They were very curious about us and our lives in our respective countries. I noticed that most people we met were of Chinese descent, and many of them spoke several languages/ dialects. I feel that because of the large number of Chinese speaking people in large cities such as Subang Jaya, it’s much more important to maintain the Chinese language through the generations. This is very different from my personal experiences in Canada. Although some families do place emphasis on speaking Chinese, many Canadian children of Chinese descent do not learn the language.

After we got back, Dominika, Laura, and I chatted in our bedroom about pretty much everything from the role of women in the family, to our expectations for this project, to our past travel experiences. It was really nice to get to know some of the girls early on.

On the second day, I woke up in the morning and almost screamed in surprise when I discovered Ralph in our apartment. He arrived in the morning from Lebanon. Later, he met Laura and Dominika as well. That morning, the 5 of us went to the university for a lazy brunch. June 1st is actually Malaysia King’s birthday, so a lot of shops were closed and the public transportation system was not running. So we mostly hung around the university campus during the day.

Taylor's University
Taylor’s University

The campus of Taylor’s University is very beautiful. The centre features a lake, where ducks and swans can sometimes be seen. Surrounding are 3 buildings. There are residences, lecture halls, a main library, and surprisingly, a hotel run by students in the hospitality and hotel management program. Today, I learned that there is also a cinema in the library, which plays a different movie each week. Apparently it’s a favourite spot for students to nap.

Shops inside Taylor's University
Shops inside Taylor’s University

Other similarities with UBC include:

  • Lots of Asian students
  • SUB-like food court (theirs is nicer)
  • Large fountain near the front of the University (ours is bigger)
  • Random bazaar with booths selling clothing, jewelry, and students asking for donations for charity

Our first project meeting is starting in 5 minutes, so I shall sign off for today!

 

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