. With Aidi, Te, and Dad, I was lucky enough to discover and experience places special and spiritual each in their own ways. We went to Tumpat where, at the end of the road, a bunch of boys were passing the day playing cards. While Dad was joking with them in Malay, Te and I walked through a broken gate and discovered a half-finished hotel now occupied only by some monkeys and goat. Right on the river and lined with palm trees, it had the promise of beauty that was both tragic and uplifting at the same time. When Dad and Aidi joined us there, we all dreamed of buying it and making it our own hotel. And though we all knew it would never happen, it was wonderful just to let those dreams materialize and float on the breeze. We visited a beach that I was told had once been a stunning place to vacation, but was changed by the ever-powerful sea to a place stunning in its unmanicured, wild beauty. As we drove through the countryside in the very Northeast of Malaysia, we would stop anywhere that captured our imaginations. Out on a narrow piece of land we watched fishermen out with their nets and boats gliding through the rippling tide. Eventually we reached the Thai border and were told of 100 people who had been killed in the village across the river, bringing us back to the sad reality of an area troubled with religious strife and poverty. That night we all got together - Aidi, Te, their one year old son, Ramlah, Rohani, Granny, Eda, her brother who told me to call him E, Fauzi, Dad, and I - and had a fabulous dinner at Eda's uncle's restaurant
. We exchanged some gifts, talked, laughed, and had an absolute ball. At the end of the night, when it was time to say goodbye to Ramlah and granny for perhaps the last time, I was consumed with emotion. When Ramlah hugged me, something not done often in the Muslim culture, the tears threatened to escape. But I held on and vowed that I would return and we would all joke over dinner once again, laughing at how we've all aged. Our last day in Kota Bharu was spent doing errands and resting and just walking around taking in the feel of the city. Aidi, Te, their son, Rohani, Eda, and E came to do the last gift exchange and say goodbye. It is hard to describe how hard to was to leave these people who had given me so much and made Malaysia such a special place for me. I feel like I have grown in the past ten days, and I have these wonderful people to thank for it. And I will come back.
Tomorrow I leave Malaysia, and with it I leave people who I have really come to love as family. The last few days have been so wonderful, so special and filled with emotion, that I'm exhausted just thinking about it really. Aidi and his wife, Te, took Dad and I on a tour of Pasir Mas and the surrounding countryside. What had started off as a little trip meant to take an hour or two turned into an entire half day adventure. We visited Buddhist temples and we got to see the awesome sight of the largest reclining Buddha in South East Asia. Again, the peacefulness and spirituality I felt and sensed in these temples and the surrounding grounds reminded me of the other religious places I had visited in Malaysia. I think that no matter what you believe, in what way you are religious, just being in a place of worship, no matter how you define that place, can give one comfort. I believe that it's not the words and doctrines of religion that really matter in the end, it is how one is effected by the feeling of the religion, the mood it creates for each individual