The halls have grown quiet for the past three weeks as students are currently taking their mid-year examinations. Examinations are extremely important in the Malaysian school system as they provide the sole means of assessment and evaluation. For students the first half of the year has been spent anxiously preparing for the nearly month long of nationwide exams in all subject areas.
This month my weeks have been filled invigilating exams, and weekends have included trips around my home state of Pahang and to destinations throughout Malaysia. Being centrally located on the Malaysian peninsula has allowed for me to easily and affordably travel from Friday after school through the end of the weekend. Here are some short highlights of my weekend trips in Malaysia....
Malacca is a historic port town on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia about 90 miles south of Kuala Lumpur. Colonial powers left their impact here for nearly 500 years from the Portuguese to Dutch to British. Like George Town (Penang) the historic center of Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We took a trishaw (a colorful three wheeled bike) on a tour around the city center.
Tioman Island is located in the South China Sea about a 2 hour ferry from the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. The beaches here are absolutely beautiful and despite being a holiday weekend and at full capacity, I only ever saw one other group of people on the beach. We went diving at a site off the island and saw amazing coral and even a giant turtle!
Sabah is a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo about a three hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. We spent our first few days with Sabah Fulbrighters in Kota Kinabalu (KK). I ran in the Borneo International Half Marathon starting at 5AM watching the sunrise along the waterfront of KK. We then made our way up to the Tip of Borneo to camp at a beautiful secluded beach. We also went on a snorkeling boat trip to Mantanani Island which has some of the bluest water I have ever seen. We finished off our trip heading out to the town of Ranau near Mount Kinabalu all along the way staying and seeing where the Sabah Fulbrighters have been living.
Yesterday, I returned from my most recent trip to Langkawi Island in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Langkawi is about a 1 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur and a famous island for tourists and locals alike because of its beautiful beaches and mountains. I met my cousin Mike at Langkawi. Highlights included taking a gondola up to around 2000 feet above sea level to a Sky Bridge that connects two mountain peaks and relaxing on the beaches of Pantai Kok and Pantai Cenang.