As you may have seen, I spent the past month plus one week in Malaysia on a work trip. I am now back in the US (at least for a little while), and wanted to share why it was such an incredible trip:
1) I had no idea that I would be selected to travel to Malaysia! Usually higher level engineers are the ones sent for the kinds of projects I was working on, so I was extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Snapshots of the Boston Scientific building in Penang, Kek Lok Si Temple, and Georgetown, Penang
2) I spent a total of 14 hours in layovers in Hong Kong, which gave me enough time to explore the city and reach the best view – Victoria Peak.
I also arrived in Malaysia right before a four day holiday weekend, which I utilized for some Southeast Asia sight-seeing. Originally I planned to go to Bali, but because of the Balinese volcanic eruption three days before my flight, I decided to visit Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was absolutely magical to wander through thousand-year-old Buddhist and Hindu temples tucked into the jungle and take photos of the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
3) I visited a friend from college who lives in Kuala Lumpur! I stayed with her family for a weekend and she showed me around the city. We saw Buddhist temples, Hindu temples, mosques, the Petronas towers, Central market, and the Islamic Arts Museum. My favorite was Batu Caves – a set of caves in a mountain with Hindu temples inside, a giant gold statue in front, and monkeys running around grabbing tourists’ food (which I found amusing but some tourists definitely did not).
4) I love curry. Absolute love it. Malaysia has TONS of curry. Penang is specifically known as a food destination for Malays and has no shortage of truly spectacular Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, and European food.
5) I got to know coworkers from multiple Boston Scientific teams. It was great to put faces to the names I had been emailing with for a while, and the team was warm, welcoming, and a delight to spend time with. We even went on a “12 Pubs of Christmas” bar crawl together!
6) This was the first time I had traveled to an Islamic country, and I found it to be very different from the world that Americans imagine of Islamic countries. The Muslim people I met truly embraced the teaching that “Islam means peace,” and invited me into their places of worship to learn about their values and marvel at the wonders of Islamic architecture.
Personal moment: As a feminist, I have always assumed that wearing a hijab and covering one’s body was a form of oppression. In spending time with Muslim women I have come to understand that for some, dressing modestly makes them feel empowered and freed. They have the ability to make a choice as to what people see of their body, and in a certain way, demand that people judge them not on their body or looks, but by their mind and their heart. I found myself also realizing that at times, I too feel empowered or beautiful or free when I dress modestly and see no reason why women (or men) shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions how they present their bodies of their own free will.