"Meeting new people and forming friendships was the main outcome of our experience."
Toneya Chin, Gabriel Ssemakula, Joel Breckler and Geetanjali Kapoor, collectively known as the Charmeleons, recently took part in the Malaysia Team Internship and this is their reflection:
Our time abroad was a steep learning curve of our abilities individually and as a group. Basing ourselves in Malaysia offered us a heightened experience in a fresh and new environment. Meeting new people and forming friendships was the main outcome of our experience.
Malaysia is a country developing at a relatively fast pace - a great place for young people to explore. One of the most distinct characteristics of the country is their food. The food is rich in flavour and loved, enhanced by the "not so good for you" additives. For all for of us experiencing the food was our own journey, as we all have different tastes, preferences and boundaries. We enjoyed a local Malaysian restaurant which served traditional Malaysian delicacies in a buffet style. This was very interesting and mildly concerning as the food was presented in dishes in the open air with no protection. But, this is the essence of Malaysian cultural, hygiene is somewhat lawless. You have to just go with it and trust the system! The food turned out to be great and memorable... definitely worth the risk.
Another Malaysian delicacy we tried was durian! This resulted in mixed reviews from the group. It was safe to say not everybody was a fan. However, it was worth the taste tester. The texture of durian is creamy, and the flavour is rich and mildly sweet. This fruit is enjoyed by many in Malaysia, but also disliked by many Malaysian locals too. The most prominent characteristic of durian is its smell. You can smell it from a mile away!
Although Malaysia has lots of street food and national cuisines, they also have an abundance of global foods. This is mainly driven by the vast span of migrants and expats that have relocated to Kuala Lumpur. Therefore, it is a surety that you can find great tasting foods of many cuisines in the city. One of the best meals we experienced was Middle Eastern at Pavillion shopping centre. This restaurant was superb, from its vibrant atmosphere to its food, it hit the nail on the head! We would highly recommend anyone visiting Kuala Lumpur to dine here. In addition to Middle Eastern food, Malaysia also has great Japanese, Thai, Western and Indian. You just need to walk venture through all the streets and see what you stumble across.
The final specialty of Malaysian cuisine is the never ending list of drinks in Malaysia. You can find these drinks in hawker stores (street stores) or just at restaurants. Simply request any drink you're feeling like and more often than not, they will have it. Must try drinks are:
The list could go on forever, but that's for your own discovery to fulfil.
All in all, there is so much to eat and drink in Malaysia. Setting food aside, there really is such an abundance of things to see and learn from immersing yourself in the culture. Make sure to seek, adventure and try anything you find that's different!