Category Archives: My Travels

Good recruitment event in Jakarta

From “Wanted: ESL Students

Two days ago, I participated in the EduExpo international education fair, organized by FPP Media, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Here is my summary of the event, including pros, cons, and my opinion about whether the event is worth attending again in the future.

Click here for the rest of the article.

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Twitter the Menace

“There is now a menace which is called Twitter […] The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey

I took this quote today from an article on CBSnews.com: “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejects “dictator” charge.”

I found this quote and its context in the article to be a bit chilling. As an avid user of social media, I find it quite ironic that a leader who is refuting claims that he is a dictator is condemning the use of social media. Twitter is a menace to society? Really?

Social media gives a voice to ordinary citizens, bringing their voices together in a virtual setting in way that can be similar to an actual physical protest. It can just be harder for a government to stop its citizens’ online commentaries.

Twitter has the power to let people express themselves however they wish. Sure, a person can certainly use their Twitter account to lie; however, I like to think that (with the exception of cyber-bullies) most people use their social media accounts to speak the truth as they see it. Perhaps I am too much of an idealist.

In any case, with the trouble that has been happening recently in Turkey, Erdogan’s comments bring back memories of the attempted crackdown of Twitter during the protests in Iran of 2009-2010; it also makes me worry that, if pushed too far, the Turkish government may choose to go the way of the Chinese, refusing access to Twitter and Facebook outright. Let’s hope not.

“Malaysia – Truly Asia”

My last few posts were about Venezuela, mostly because my first visit to the country showed me so many things that inspired me to write. I will be headed back to Venezuela soon, and will probably have more to write because I find the country to be so inspiring; however, in the meantime, I want to write a little about my trip to Malaysia.

I am currently in Malaysia participating in the AEO Study in the USA international education fairs, which will travel around several countries in Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, we stopped in Kuala Lumpur (the capital and largest city) for a few days, and we will head to Penang (the second largest city) very soon, as well.

Recently, I saw a commercial about fun, adventure, good food, and friendly people in Malaysia. Apparently, this is one in a series of commercials in a campaign to draw tourists to the region. The tagline: “Malaysia, truly Asia.”

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It is my first time in Malaysia. Prior to coming here, I had heard that the country is very developed; even so, I have to admit that I still had an image of a developing nation in my head. I thought it would be like other places I have visited in Southeast Asia, with buildings falling apart, many people living in poverty, long lines, crumbling infrastructure, excessive air pollution, bad traffic, etc.

As far as my visit to Kuala Lumpur (KL) goes, I could not have been more wrong. Here are a few of the characteristics of KL that struck me.

Efficiency

Efficiency was certainly a prevailing theme of my visit to KL, beginning from my first moments there.

Upon arrival, I made it through the immigration line very quickly, and my bags was already on the carousel. That never happens!

I was able to follow the signs quite easily to the KLIA Express, the train that runs between the airport and Sentral station, a train/bus terminal that has links to much of the city. Though the procedure for purchasing tickets had changed due to renovations that are in process at the airport, everything was still very easy to figure out, with very little delay. The ride from the airport to Sentral Station was quite fast (approximately 30 minutes), and, again, everything was very efficient.

Everything continued in this manner throughout the entire trip. KL is so organized, and so international-friendly with its efficiency, simple processes, and bilingual signage everywhere. I was very, very impressed.

Friendly people

I find that Malaysians are incredibly friendly people. Everywhere I went, people greeted me with a smile and a slight bow with their right hand crossed over their heart. They make the same gesture when saying “you’re welcome” after one thanks them. This heartfelt gesture is symbolic of the treatment that I received from everyone I met there–once again, from the very beginning of the trip.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by an immigration officer who was courteous and friendly. He welcomed me to his country, said a few nice things, and encouraged me to eat their local foods. What a difference compared to immigration officers in most countries, who barely acknowledge your presence–and a big difference from my country, where security issues force our immigration officers to treat everyone with suspicion.

This continued on throughout my trip to KL. Nearly everywhere I went–hotels, stores, etc.–people were incredibly helpful and friendly. In addition, English is used quite commonly in the city, and it was normally quite easy to communicate.

Traffic

Watching traffic and life on the road in this city was a completely different experience than in my previous visits to other Asian countries. Not only was the infrastructure modern and well-maintained, but drivers followed the rule of law, as well. Cars were not speeding and cutting each other off all over the place, and the state of the roads looked far from chaotic. Most people get around in cars, by bus, or by rail–there were very few scooters or motorcycles anywhere, and no sightings of motorcycle drivers wearing face masks to protect themselves from exhaust–a vision that is almost ubiquitous in other Asian nations.

Traffic moves calmly through the city on well-maintained roads.

Traffic moves calmly through the city on well-maintained roads.

Beautiful buildings

KL is a beautiful city. The buildings are well-maintained and reflect the country’s cultural heritage from China and India, as well as elements of Islamic influence.

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Many of the buildings have beautiful designs, stonework, and arches. We saw some light posts that were decorated with artificial flowers, and others that were in the form of chandeliers.

Green space

I don’t think I have ever seen a city with so much green space in my life. KL is incredible. It is a city of 1.6 million people, but it has a small number of high rises, and they are developing the city with a great respect for life. There is a section of the city (“Lake Gardens,” I believe) with beautiful gardens that boast many tall trees with the greenest foliage. I swear, the temperature in that section of KL seemed 10-15 degrees cooler than everywhere else–a wonderful thing for a city that regularly averages about 33 degrees Celsius on a daily basis! It was completely refreshing.

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Tremendous amount of green space in this city.

Diversity

Another amazing thing that I noticed about KL was the amount of diversity among its people. There did not seem to be a single “look” to the people of KL, whereas I have visited other Asian nations in which the people were more homogenous. One can see the mix of ethnic backgrounds in many of the people there. Beyond that, there are also many transplants in KL–I met many people from India and from various nations of Africa, as well. I really loved the diversity in this city.

Overall, I loved Kuala Lumpur, and it really gave me a terrific impression of Malaysia. It is not surprising to me that the country has such a great reputation. Beautiful cities, friendly and diverse people, in a system that is multilingual and easy to understand–I could definitely go back to KL in the future! I hope that their “Malaysia, truly Asia” campaign brings the nation its just rewards!