Entertaining the princess

The most delicoius cheese nan of Kuala Lumpur

The most delicoius cheese nan of Kuala Lumpur

Country: Malaysia and Singapore

In Kepala Batas, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

Lesson learnedSo that’s how to eat with seven pieces of silverware

Laughed about: Singapore’s ridiculous fees

Most wonderful miracle: To see that I am still able to walk in high heels

Food we ate: Plenty of homemade specialties and a several-course menu

Greatest challenge: Roberto’s melon foot

 

Soon all neighbors in Kepala Batas knew everything about the two foreigners who picked their little village to get to know the Malaysia culture. During the day we worked and at night we met friends for a Te O Ais Limau (Cold tea without sweet milk with lemon and ice cubes) or for a game of futsal (indoor soccer).

One of our activities those days was a talk in the Sultanah Asma girl's school in Alor Setar

One of our activities those days was a talk in the Sultanah Asma girl’s school in Alor Setar

Just a few days before we wanted to continue cycling Roberto had an accident playing futsal. He twisted his ankle and his foot swelled up to the size of a melon. Fortunately Roberto did not suffer a fracture, but the doctor told him to take it easy for minimum six weeks. Six weeks without our bikes? We were shocked. Apit’s brother Syauqee borrowed Roberto his old crutches so he could at least walk to the toilet without help.

No fraction. Yet Roberto was not too happy about his situation

No fraction. Yet Roberto was not too happy about his situation

It took three weeks until the swelling got a little better and we did not leave the house without plenty of ice and herbs.

Apit and his family are into the clothing business and started a brand called Busana Azzahra. As part of a charity event Apit had organized a fashion show with his newest collection. He needed ten models. Nine girls of his staff joined. The tenth was going to be me.

Model training in the Busana Azzahra shop

Model training in the Busana Azzahra shop

So we all spent a few days learning how to walk on heels, how to present a scarf and how to pose.
Soon after I found myself dressed in colorful clothes showing only hands, feet and face, with two headscarves and easily half a kilo of make-up, walking insecurely up and down the stage.

The hall was going to be filled in the evening

The hall was going to be filled in the evening

The hall was big and well-dressed people filled all tables. The biggest table was reserved for a special visitor: the Princess of Kedah! I left the stage, ran backstage to change all my layers of clothes and got back just in time for the second walk. After the third round, a lady was waiting for me backstage.

Find the German

Find the German

It was the princess’s consultant telling me that her majesty wants to meet us. We had just watched a documentary about her few days ago and we knew that she was a big fan of outdoor activities, especially cycling.

Chit-chat with Malaysia's Princess. We were more than honored.

Chit-chat with Malaysia’s Princess. We were more than honored.

Apit explained us how to address her formally and soon after we found ourselves chatting with the princess about bike paths, recent tours, the way through Europe and Asia and our project Tasting Travels.

We were not the only ones who wanted to get to know her.

We were not the only ones who wanted to get to know her.

By the end of the month Roberto’s visa was about to expire. His foot wasn’t ready for the bike yet, so we had to take a bus. Thailand was the closest country, but also the only one for Mexicans to get a visa beforehand. So instead we sat in the bus for 13 hours and made it to Singapore by the following day.  It was the perfect timing, since it was my friend Dila’s birthday.

Dinner in Singapore with Apit and Dila

Dinner in Singapore with Apit and Dila

Singapore is a great example of a perfectly planned city. There public transport is easy to understand, people are polite to each other and everything is as clean as can be. But there is a price to pay. All walls are full or signs that tell people how to keep a place clean, offer seats to the elderly, report suspicious people and wash the hands after using the toilet. Since Singapore is a country of many ethnics, the signs are written in four languages: English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay.

The touristy places even have signs in five or more languages

The touristy places even have signs in five or more languages

But the friendly signs are not the only reason why the city is so clean. There is a 1000 $ fee for spitting on the floor or chewing gum. Eating Durian (a very smelly fruit) anywhere but home and not flushing a public toilet are fined 500 $ and those who feed wild monkeys and get caught have to pay 250 $. Any homosexual act between men can turn into two years of prison. The heaviest punishment is given for anything drug-related. Measured on the quantity of habitants, Singapore is the country with most executions. Some also call it “Disneyland with death penalties”.

Breaking the law in Singapore. Luckily nobody saw me posing for this picture.

Breaking the law in Singapore. Luckily nobody saw me posing for this picture.

We know how to flush a toilet and we are not too big chewing gum fans anyway, so we had nothing to fear, but yet I’d rather ask a pedestrian for directions than a police officer.

After a few days in Singapore we went back to Kepala Batas with half a day of stopover in Kuala Lumpur, where the German Ambassador Holger Michael had invited us to join him for lunch in his new residence.

Lunch in the Ambassador's Residence

Lunch in the Ambassador’s Residence

In Malaysia most food is eaten with hands, even the not-sticky rice. With the time I have learned how to keep my face and hair relatively clean eating rice, meat and sauce, but today this training was of little use for me. In the residence I found myself seated in front of seven different pieces of silverware. I eyed the Ambassador. Which fork did he use? Where did he put the fish bones? Did he eat the lettuce leaf or was that only decoration? And what happened to the serviette after lunch?

Apit (left) and Mahadi (right) from the German Alumni Association made this meeting possible

Apit (left) and Mahadi (right) from the German Alumni Association made this meeting possible

We managed to eat relatively unobtrusively and the Ambassador enjoyed our stories. He liked our project and was curious about our future adventures in Malaysia. But before we could cycle the first kilometer, Roberto’s foot would need to heal. And that needed time.

A well-travelled man: Ambassador Holger Michael

A well-travelled man: Ambassador Holger Michael

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  1. Carolyn in Nashville, TN says:

    Hi, Annika. Nice post! ‘Find the German,” that’s funny. All very interesting.

    This is just a message to you two. No need to show everyone, necessarily.

    Looks like you may be getting some stormy weather just now, related to the super typhoon. Whew, what strong weather. A lot of death & destruction.

    I am an old typesetter and proofreader, and if you would like me to, I can list a few words in this English post that could be corrected, I would be happy to do that for you.

    Good wishes,
    Carolyn James

    • admin admin says:

      Hello Carolyn,
      thanks for your comment, happy to hear you liked it.
      Seems like the worst weather will not touth Sumatra, so we will be lucky. In fact, the sun shines most days and we only get some showers in the afternoon and evening.
      Yes, I could indeed use some proofreading! Since I grew up with German and did not learn English until I was 11 years old, I picked up a lot of mistakes (also in spoken language) and would be happy to improve my English.
      That would be a great help, thank you so much Carolyn!
      All the best wishes from Batam, Indonesia,
      Annika

  2. Hector says:

    Wow! How wonderful experiences! Meeting a Princess, dinning with an Ambassador, teaching at Malay schools, modeling in a gorgeus Ball Room (well, maybe not Roberto), but what I envy the most: EATING THAT DELICIOUS CHEESE NAN!!!

    • admin admin says:

      We are SOOO sorry! We just found out about this great place days after you had already left. It was a bit like Quesadillas and we know you would have loved them. By now we would make quite some Malaysia guides. Anyways we think of the three of you every time we go there 🙂
      Annika

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