Twin Towers & Peace Amulets

Five weeks is more than enough time to develop genuine friendships with my colleagues, so Tuesday was naturally an emotional tearjerker, although I didn’t shed any. After work, a few colleagues and I walked to the Jing Mei nightmarket for cheap eats and then crawled on top of monkey bars at a community playground for some girlchat until I nearly missed the last metro ride back to the Sheraton. They asked me to talk about my “Taipei Experience”—an unforgettable adventure spent with new friends in new environments.My mom, sister, and I left the Sheraton Taipei at 5am half asleep and slurring, so naturally, I fell back asleep on the plane ride to Kuala Lumpur with gum in my mouth and drool all over my facemask (and yes, I learned my feverish lesson and did actually wear a facemask). Malaysia Airlines’ gorgeous flight attendants were the first to help me formulate my most PI statement for the week: Malaysians are pale Chinese to dark Indian and everything in between. They’ve got almond-eyed Blacks to blue-eyed Asians—I just can’t describe “a typical Malaysian.”

Our taxi driver went 150km/hr at some point on the Malaysian freeway before we passed by what I swore was a KFC hotel and finally arrived at The Renaissance Hotel, just minutes after the sky began to wreak havoc. I gazed out the hotel room window and watched the rain wash clean the Twin Towers before the rhythmic drumming lulled me back to sleep.

I woke up around midnight to witness the city ablaze with lights below. Dinner consisted of overpriced room service, which landed me in the bathroom for hours on end shortly afterwards. I’m pretty sure it was the red sauce that was too “stimulating” for my intestines, but it could’ve also been the exotic fruits like rambutan and mangosteens that I had eaten in copious amounts and simply could not digest.

The next day, we walked over to the Petronas Twin Towers, where I received a peace trinket from a Buddhist monk and donated a few bucks out of good will. Consequently, my mom reprimanded me for eternity in the mall and finally wrapped up with the closing statement, “You have stupid and naïve written all over your face.”

Thanks for the peace.

A few hours later, we were back at another airport on the way to Brunei Darussalam. My mom is the type of person who will try to sneak a 1500ml bottle of water through the security check and then ask me to help her chug it all in front of the security guards…though traveling with my mom has its benefits. We are now staying at The Empire Hotel & Country Club next to the beach in Brunei. Last night, our caddy had to give way to the royal family, which was watching a movie at the club’s theater house. This morning, we had a pretty kickass continental breakfast, and why I’m still not tanning at the beach is beyond anyone’s comprehension.

Last words before I venture out to the golden and deep blues: people keep asking me “what is Brunei”, as if the name were too ambiguous to even hint at a country. According to Wikipedia, Brunei is a tiny Islamic country rich in oil and ruled by a sultan on the island of Borneo—but all you really need to know about Brunei is, the sale and public consumption of alcohol is illegal. Alas, I’m off to the shores!