Chicken Chop is not ‘Western Food’.
After slightly over six months working away in Malaysia, it’s time for us to part ways. That’s not to say I won’t be back for certain, who knows what way things will go from here, but it does mean that for now at least, I won’t be enduring the major sweat-inducing heat on my way to work every morning, nor will my walk home be largely dominated by trying to avoid taxi drivers trying to offer me a ride or massage girls also trying to offer me…services. It also means that the maintenance of air conditioning units will very shortly not be of any concern to me anymore, whereas just two weeks ago not only was it top of my agenda, but it was also causing me a number of very restless nights, and very cranky mornings. No more swimming pool ‘downstairs’ in my building, no more table tennis and no more real, authentic, delicious and yet incredibly cheap food. In Ireland we say ‘wow that’s great value’ when you get a sandwich for less than around 3 Euro. The thought now of spending that amount and not receiving a full meal, rice and a drink brings me nearly to tears.
And whether we like it or not at home, our food really can be sometimes quite bland. I’ve tasted some things that have been so awful I’ve wanted to cry – but I’ve tasted some things that are so good that I wish we had them back home. But one thing’s always a constant and that is that everything here is jam-packed with flavour.
But there’s certainly been downsides – while I’ve been here, I’ve been pick pocketed and been attacked for my camera, while Anna’s phone has been robbed among countless other minor crime incidents we know of. If there really does turn out to be more cops on the streets and a proper transport system in place that leads to more people abandoning their cars and less of the current situation where the traffic gets worse seemingly by the day, then that’ll be a great job well done. 6 months is a long time to be stuck somewhere, and it gives you a much better chance to learn about a country than you could ever do by just visiting for holidays. If I’d visited for a holiday, as I had done beforehand, then I’d never have known about such treasures as ‘Yut Kee’ restaurant, nor about proper Malay food, nor about the traffic or the way things inexplicably sometimes don’t work and nobody really cares.
But at the end of the day, it’s still a place to be and has offered me (right now) much more opportunities for work and money and travel than Ireland seems to be able to offer to anyone recently graduated. In many ways, it’s really made me quite angry towards my own country that we can’t offer any sort of value for money (even now), our country’s up the spout, hardly any politicians seem to even have a clue quite how bad and how serious things are, nobody’s to blame and the best option for so many graduates, professionals and families really is to get as far away as possible. But then it also makes you realise that some places – incidentally, many of the less-stagnant economies in the world right now – are the ones that are open and welcoming.
Even whereas Ireland (if there is a job going) wants you to have a list of degrees and masters and qualifications as long as your arm, people here are willing to give you a shot if you really think you’re up to the job – if you’re not, you can bet you’ll be told. Couple that with the delicious food, the lifestyle to a certain extent and the possibility to earn money if you play your cards right and there’s things I’ll miss, for sure.
So for now, armed with all my luggage, my wooden gecko I got at Central Market, and the knowledge of what a chicken chop should taste like, it’s time to say goodbye Malaysia, thanks for the adventure, the experience and the journey.
Oh, and one more thing. Chicken Chop doesn’t belong in the ‘Western Food’ section of any menu; I never even heard of it until I came to Malaysia. Thanks.