Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Malaysia  , Wilayah Persekutuan,
Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kai is a sweet 19 year old girl who I met in the van to the retreat. When we were finally able to break noble silence, Kai offered for me to stay at her house with her family during the next couple of days in KL. Meanwhile, she was returning today to her school so I would be staying there with her parents and two sisters. She coordinated a ride for the two of us with another couple from the course Lilly and Leong. Additionally, Andrew, another guy from the van joined us. Andrew was interesting. This was his fourth Vipassana and unbeknownst to me was the assigned male course manager. He couldn't stop praising the program but I found speaking with Kai far more interesting. I couldn’t believe the maturity of this 19 year old girl. I found it humbling that she was interested in spending her holiday time at a Buddhist retreat learning how to be a better person. From our conversation I learned that she is the oldest of three daughters and it was very much her responsibility to take care of the house and her sisters while the parents ran their café. She shed much light on the Chinese culture and unlike most girls her age she understands the level of respect and actually relishes in the tradition.

We had a pleasant ride into downtown with a detour to Batu Caves per my request. As a group we climbed the 280 stairs passed the enormous gold Buddha statue. It felt great to stretch my legs after such little activity during the past two weeks.

It was Sunday afternoon and Kai’s desire to go for sushi. When she mentioned sushi, I got so excited as well. We were the three sisters and I. Kai insisted on treating, using money from the folks but generosity was overwhelming. Sushi King was more like imitation crab sushi but it was a refreshing change nonetheless. Afterwards we all went to 31 flavors for ice cream before stopping at her auntie’s house to visit the tamed wild boars and watch the World Badminton Championships.

That night after the family tried to help me plan out my next two days in KL, we said goodbye to Kai who had to return back to school.

I spent the next two days exploring KL. Arriving too late for the limited tickets to the top of the Petronas Towers, I was left taking pictures from the base, then proceeded to get lost in KLCC mall for a little too long. From there I meandered past the Masjid Negara Mosque on my way to butterfly park and ate local food on the pedestrian street of Jalan Petaling aka Chinatown, where they sell "the best knock offs."

Desperate for some primping, I scheduled a haircut and color at the expensive Pavilion mall and if that wasn’t enough I spent the entire next day at the spa getting threading, waxing and a facial in the cute neighborhood of Bangsar. I would almost compare this part of town to South Pasadena. With a large Indian constituency I took advantage of some authentic masala at a recommended restaurant called Nirvana where I ordered their specialty dish called the banana leaf. Basically the leaf acts as a plate and in addition to whatever main dish you order, they come around and dish out a variety of vegetables, two kinds of sauces, and some sort of fried chips. Although I was here in the middle of Ramadan I didn’t have any difficulty locating places to eat but the alternative was the food markets that opened in the late afternoons for the observant Malays. It was fun to walk the stalls and see the famished order up enough food to feed an army.

The few days in KL with Kai’s family were a nice buffer to what awaits me in China. I only hope I can maintain the new found calmness.
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steph on

Hey Stacey! If you haven't tried it already, order a laksa noodle soup. It is THE best Malaysian dish.

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