A birthday coincidence in Kuala Lumpur

The day we made it to Kuala Lumpur was a special one – the 18th April, my birthday. Even though the plane was late, our Couchsurfing host Charles was so kind to wait for us and drove us to his flat. We did not tell him about my special day, because that might have seemed a bit demanding. But anyway, Charles made my birthday a great one. In the evening we went out for dinner to a typical Malaysian street food market.

Malaysia is a very multicultural country: about two third of the population are Muslim Malayans, twenty percent are Chinese, a bit less than ten percent are of Indian origin. It is a peculiarity of the country that traditionally the minorities are economically much more powerful than the rest, but over the last decade the Malayans have caught up, mostly due to government initiatives. Nonetheless, the distinct ethnicities have almost always lived together peacefully since the independence from the UK in 1957. We really think that we could still learn from the coexistence of all these different groups, because culture or religion does not prevent them to behave in a respectful and tolerant manner.

In KL, there are even more Chinese and Indians, so the city is in a simple charming way international. When we say international, do not think of westernized, like Shanghai or comparable cities. Internationality does not mean modernity here, the city does not have to prove its multinational character – it is simply rooted in the country’s tradition. English is extremely widespread, not only the educated ones speak it. So even though we were new to the city, we never felt alien or strange, but in a certain way we felt at home from the very first moment. Continue reading