Thursday, November 29, 2018

Home is where the hargow is

Just kidding, I actually prefer siumai.

I've been back in Malaysia for two weeks now, and it's been wonderful. The weather's been pretty good, I've been eating better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) than ever, and no work means having the time for far more regular exercise. Sleep comes easy, and I awake well-rested, revelling in the fact that I can get out of bed whenever I want. Mentally, I'm better than I've been in a very long time - I feel calm and happy and relaxed and rejuvenated. It's amazing what a holiday can do for you!

Spending time with family and friends this visit has been incredibly valuable. This year I've been a little bit 'out of sight, out of mind' - it can be hard to think of things other than what you're directly faced with when you're faced with so much. This resulted in minimal contact with anyone back home. Talking and reconnecting with people reminded me that there are so many here whom I love and who love me, and neither geographical location nor (in)frequency of contact will change that. It was quite heartening, to say the least, and I am very thankful.

The other special thing about this visit is the fact that I visited all four grandparents. My grandmother passed while I was away, and I didn't manage to go back for her funeral. I made it a point to visit her grave to pay my respects when I came back. She had been buried beside her husband, my grandfather, so I was able to visit them both at the same time. We hadn't been able to communicate much due to the language barrier, but Ah Neh always made sure we were well-fed and watered, and somehow (she had so many grandchildren!) always remembered to give me an extra birthday angpow every Chinese New Year as my birthday usually fell around the same time. I had a hard time equating the plot of land before me to my grandparents, so I looked around for a bit. The cemetery was a lovely place, well-kept and peaceful and green. A respectful sort of quiet covered the area - it gave no sense of creepiness or unease. I was glad that everyone there had such a beautiful final resting place. It was a nice place to be.

On perhaps a less morbid note, I've been doing a lot of eating. I've missed noodles a lot, I realised. Why do people like rice so much? Rice is just rice. When it comes to noodles, though, you've got dozens of different types, and they all taste different! There's bihun, mee, loh shi fun, mee pok, egg noodles, kuey tiao, laksa noodles, mee sua, ramen noodles, pan mee noodles/strips, tang hoon... There are just oodles of noodles, and I love them all so much. My favourite is probably chilli pan mee, and I managed to visit my go-to place, Super Kitchen in SS2, twice this trip. Also, I've decided that my go-to place for dim sum is Jin Xuan in DJ and my banana leaf rice go-to is probably Sri Paandi near Samad. The latter is where I had Indian apom for the first time, and it blew my mind how something so simple could be so delicious. Maybe it was the sweet, watery santan dipping sauce.

I've also had lots of local fruit! Twice now I've gorged myself on duku langsat, which I'd sorely missed. I've also had longan, jambu air, papaya, pineapple, and mango, all of which were delicious. It's true that I'm going back to Australia where a variety of fruits are in season, but I'm going to miss the fruit here. Few things compare to biting into a jambu air straight from the fridge on a hot day.

I leave on Thursday night, and will be starting night shifts the day after I land. (You can see why I find leaving to be incredibly unappealing.) Still, I can't complain - it's been a really great two weeks, and I'm probably as refreshed and recharged as I'm going to get. I am grateful for the time I've had here, and will try to focus on that rather than my reluctance to leave...which is quite great, to be honest, but I'll do my best to be positive. Hopefully.

Thanks for an excellent two weeks, Malaysia! I will miss you and your food quite dearly. See you again in 2019!

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