Chimwemwe Nkhoma, Guncag Ozavci, Kate Harrington and Jennifer Cook recently took part in the Malaysia Internship Team with the Deakin Business School. Their trip saw them experiencing Malaysia in unique ways finding themselves developing professionally and personally. This is their reflection:
We came, saw, tasted, worked and succeeded!
At the beginning of our Kuala Lumpur (KL) adventure, as a whole Deakin Abroad Group, we met up in order to get an overview about our company’s expectations from us and to initiate our cultural hunt. Soon after we took a souvenir photo in front of Swiss Garden Hotel, each group received a unique cultural hunt itinerary. We were supposed to visit some principle traditional Malaysian places and complete some tasks, which exposed us to Malaysian traditional customs within a limited time. The group which completed all listed tasks would be awarded.
Our cultural hunt began with Brickfields also known as Little India to visit an Indian artistic Elephant Fountain sculpture. Brickfields is known as Malaysia’s official Little India neighbourhood just outside KL, which was transformed into a variety street with Indian stores and restaurants run by Malaysians’ Indian community. Colourful streets and different odours coming out the local shops make you feel as if you are in India not in Kuala Lumpur.
We also explored the Torana Gate that is known as a gateway to Hindu-Malaysia friendship and it is recognised as one of the remarkable specimens of Indian art and architecture.
Local shops and little pretty sellers were selling everything unique from Indian traditional culture delicacies like vadai and thosai to the famous 'Muruku' snack. With great bargaining skills, one can negotiate with the seller for cheaper prices.
Soon after, we headed back to Jalan Alor (street) to find Durian Fruit, which has the strongest, smell but also a delicious unique taste. This fruit generally is sold by street sellers and is one of the most expensive fruit we found in Malaysia. When it comes to price negotiation, a favourable price is difficult to obtain once the seller knows that you’re a foreigner. 150 Ringgit was too much for us; therefore we decided to only take a photo of the fruit.
Jalan Alor is a crowded street and offers a variety of local street foods, fresh juice and different courses which one is able to enjoy and immerse fully in Kuala Lumpur’s cultural experience. It is imperative that one visits this street, especially at night when all restaurants are open and the colourful lights on because many restaurants are closed during the day. It is hard to make food selection because food is very cheap but still offers great value for your money. We strongly recommend trying out the different cuisines Malaysia has to offer the next time you are on a vacation in Kuala Lumpur.
We also went to the Pavilion Mall to have lunch and locate the flower painted bowls at the water fountain in front of the mall. The Pavilion is a very big, gorgeous multilevel shopping mall and accommodates many international brands. While marvelling at the water fountain, we learnt that the flower engraved on the bowls is the bloom of the Hibiscus, which is a national flower of Malaysia and represents a multiracial culture living harmoniously in unity. According to Malays, Hibiscus is regarded as a symbol of opulence, passion and progression.
The Food court in the Pavilion includes a wide range of cuisine and proved quite a difficult task for us to make our choice for lunch. It was the one of the best places that one can find any meal belonging to the different cuisines in KL. We tasted different foods and really appreciated it! Our final decision was to come back at this food court before leaving Malaysia.
Interestingly, we realised KL has big shopping centres with western brands appealing to higher income group while many small shops still serve a unique presence in the Malaysian society and are surviving. It was an obvious indicator of this developing country. We thought that one of the best benefits of this cultural hunt was that one was exposed to different moods as we traversed through different locations.
Like Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Italy’s Pisa Tower, the PETRONAS Twin Towers are one of the biggest attractions unique to Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, this stunning twin glass construction was a must see for us. We concluded our cultural hunt by marvelling at one of the tallest buildings in the world, with 88 floors to be exact. During our KL stay, we had many opportunities, day and night and on our way to and from work to observe the majestic magnificent beauty contained by the PETRONAS towers glow. It is absolutely breathtaking.
If you are fond of amazing delicious street foods and fresh fruits, the night markets have plenty of options. You can be amazed with how cheap food and many tropical fruits are when compared to Australia. With around A$5-A$10 you can try many food and fruit options and feel satisfied. Fish balls, dried fruits, chicken, mango juice, corn, ice cream are only some of them. We cannot forget to add that the fruit juices were very tasty and definitely a must try when one is in KL!
With the beginning of our internship, thanks to our host company, we can honestly say that our cultural exploration proved significant as we could start to see how we could fit into the Malaysian social and business culture. We were well received by our host company Ri-Yaz Hotels and Resorts and felt like real employees of their company. Each company manager and staff we interacted with contributed significantly in helping us pick up as much as possible about the Malaysian cultures from the foods we ate to the order of business. Our perspectives towards Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and different communities living there have totally changed beyond our expectation.
These experiences are only a small part of our unforgettable memories we experienced in Malaysia. Even if it was a short-term internship experience, we realised that we culturally and professionally evolved beyond our expectation and added to ourselves priceless values. As Benjamin Disraeli said 'we have seen more than remember and we will remember more than we have seen'.