May 1, 2012, by Ben Hunte
New People, New Experiences, & a New Home
Happy May Day, from Malaysia!
It’s been a pretty hectic week in the jungle, so let’s get started.
As a result of my blog post last week, I was asked by one of the teachers at my old college to record a video for her students, about what I’m currently up to – and how my A Level in Drama & Theatre Studies has helped me.
Being given the opportunity to share my experiences meant so much to me, because I owe an awful lot to that school, and to that course. I truly found myself through being able to to create, lead, and perform on a daily basis, and the things that I learned over those two years will definitely go with me through life. Highams Park School, and especially the Performing Arts department, you are amazing, and I will never stop singing your praises! (The Q&A video is currently private, sorry!)
I’d also like to say hello to all of the new UNMC-ers, coming in as the April Intake students. It’s so weird seeing people on campus that I haven’t seen before… One of the things I love about UNMC is the smallness of the student community, it’s like a very diverse fraternity. Yes, at times it can be annoying, because you’ll say one thing to one person, and 10minutes later everybody seems to know it, but it feels like a family. Eventhough I haven’t studied at the UK Campus, my friends there have told me how you can casually meet somebody once, and never see them again, because there are that many students! Sure that suits some people, and it’s probably easier at those times when you really don’t want anybody to notice you (like when you’ve just finished an all-nighter, and have to do the walk of shame back to your room, looking dirty, absolutely mashed, and probably smelling horrendous); but for me – I love that I recognise almost every single person I bump into, and can have a conversation with most of them, whilst at least flashing a teethy grin to the rest. With a big friendly personality, it’s easy to make a lasting impression on our small uni community, and I can’t wait to see how the April Intake, July Intake, and the huge September Intake, embrace this, and enhance our student experience!
… and that brings us to:
Ben’s Moment of the Week!
This has been a wicked week for 2 reasons.
Everybody always asks me: “Why do you go to Penang so much, Ben?!”
Well, in short, Penang now gives me what Central London’s given me throughout my life.
Jumping on the tube from Woodford Station to Oxford Circus Station, I would feel a certain buzz, as if I was escaping everything and on my way to somewhere magical… I wish I still got that feeling, but those astronomical tube fares have seriously killed the dream.
When I discovered Penang at the beginning of this year, the beaches, the people, the life – I knew that it would be a long and prosperous relationship.
As I book my coach ticket from KL to Penang (which costs around £6), and print it off in the library, I genuinely can’t control the grin on my face, and my walk back to my room mirrors that of Charlie Bucket’s, after he finds his golden ticket.
I do have a confession to make though… I am probably in line to win the ‘worst backpacker ever’ award. Yes, I have the obligatory 6 foot backpack, yes, I rock those fake raybans regardless of the time of day, but no, I do not stay in hostels. I REFUSE! My recent stays include the Shangri-La, Traders Hotel, and Holiday Inn, darling.
It’s not that I don’t get along with dirt and cockroaches, well it is – but I can deal with them if I have to, I’ve just always dreamed of embracing a glamourous hotel lifestyle, and in Asia I can! Averaging RM350/£70 a night, a 5* hotel stay in Malaysia is half the price of the (probably) 0* hotel in my home town. ABSOLUTE BARGAIN! Eiman & I have received so much prejudice from hotel staff, concerning the likeliness of our stays being legitimate.. But don’t worry, plenty of letters of complaint have been written, whilst I’ve been wrapped in my soft dressing gown and slippers, lying on my crisp egyptian cotton sheets, with my complimentary fruit basket beside me, and HBO on the wall-mounted 40” TV – obviously.
So, what happened in Penang last weekend? Not much really, it was a pretty chilled trip. Oh, and Eiman nearly drowned. Fair enough the waves were 10 feet tall, probably the aftermath from the earthquake/tsunami last week, and yes, I was the only person mad enough to even be near the sea – let alone swimming in it, and I guess it was all my fault. When I go to the beach, I expect to be able to swim! No crazy waves were going to stop me.
Anyway, I tempted Eiman into the water, but her entry-timing was not as well practiced as mine.. one second she was standing there, making her way in, then as a huge wave crashed onto the sand, she quite simply disappeared. Whilst I was cracking up, trying to keep afloat, Eiman was getting washed away, screaming my name – UTTERLY HILARIOUS. She’s all good now, but I think she’s developed a fear of the sea.
One more thing, I’ve visited Penang five times now, and I still don’t understand why it’s called the food capital of Malaysia! I’ve been to Georgetown, Gurney Drive, and Batu Ferrenghi, and I’m yet to taste anything special enough to send a postcard home about. Feel free to leave a suggestion down below of where I need to go to experience what everybody hypes up, because until then, I’ll be making do with the TGI Fridays in the city centre.
Mission: House Hunt – COMPLETE.
The other major news is that through hours of walking up and down jungle paths in 40º heat, calling a million numbers, and seeing a load of rooms that not even a family of rats would be happy to inhabit, my group has finally got a house sorted for next year!!! It is an absolute beauty.
Aptly named “Beimabehaiza” (Bee-Ma-Bay-Hi-Za, a combo of all of our names), our house is a few minutes walk from the bridge that connects the student housing area (TTS) to UNMC, and it’s conveniently located next to the uni shuttle-bus stop, for those lazy morning moments. When I walked into the house for the first time, on my own – because all three of my future housemates overslept, it just felt right; there are windows everywhere, letting in a beautiful amount of light, it’s spacious, my room is literally like a bachelor pad, and it’s brand spanking new, so blessed with sparkling facilities. For only RM2600/£420 a month, for the whole house (..I KNOW!!!), with my western ideologies, it was the absolute steal of the century. Oh, and the owner’s allowing us to get a dog, so my dreams of owning a British Bulldog may be realised shortly!
…and that’s my week. I’ll see you next week for another update, but hopefully I won’t have too much to say – because I would have locked down my social life all week and revised madly.. but we’ll see.
Leave any comments, questions & suggestions below 😀
Never listening to you again. Nonetheless, great post! I’m proud of you. 🙂
Malaysia have still a lot to learn from developed corntuies Wrong. At least Malaysia is a human society where people still strive for a living as nature intended and where the hedonistic excesses of developed corntuies are largely absent. High tax + high social security, as in Europe are inhuman systems that enslave the population. Malaysia should search for the middle way.
Here I sit, in my tiny room with rain pattering at my window, ‘trying’ to work on my essay and you guys are circulating around in 5* hotels, sun bathing on awesome Island shores AND feasting on delicious food (without burning a hole in your pocket). Not fair!
Another great post, Ben. Enjoyed reading about your luxurious escapades 🙂
Such a way with words, as always! Believe my exams begin & end next week, so don’t you worry, my karma for all this procrastination is coming! Glad you enjoyed reading though 🙂 good luck!
I am not a blogger but I felt dvrien to search a blog site to voice my horror at what Mahatir is doing to Malaysia, a country he professes to love. His attempts at reviving a doctrine of racial fear, discrimination, separatism, and ultimately hatred is socially irresponsible and shows the man as he really is, so consumed with hatred and so filled with egotistical pride that he can’t see straight. We have learned that the lives of great leaders that humanity looks backward in history as examples to guide us in the present and into the future have always inspired humanity to rise above the baseness in us to the greatness also within us all. There have also been scoundrels in history which have tried to reach into man’s depravity and manipulate it to further their own personal agendas. These, have only ended up damaging the very fabric of the society and culture they profess to love. We know these people too, as they have lived in infamy far longer than their heinous intentions were successful.Sadly, Dr. Mahatir will be remembered as the latter type.
hi, i stumble upon your blog and i m a msyalaian living abroad. Well , i used to think the same as u that the msia is far from perfect. However since i had lived here in the states, i came to realization that Msia had actually provide lots of oppurnities for the people in terms of health and educations. In the states here, there is no such thing as free health care like the goverment hospital we had. however nice blog. keep it up.
Great post again 😀
How could these people be so igonrant, nonsensical and bite the hands that feeds them?This ongoing issue, that seems to be nudging our hospitable head almost way too hard now. Within the gratifying myth that we conjure up, on how we are from the same roots and share similar folk traditions. but almost too often too much now these south to the border neighbor, our ill mannered less sophisticated separated by the sea neighbor are almost wanting us all here to really admit that we actually does not gladly embrace what similarity we share, and rather be admitting at how they are portraying a behavior so totally over reacting and to be taking this thing way off the original context and should not be treated either seriously or if not to be portrayed so downright dumb.How these so called Indonesian activists are taking a rash and harsh views and stance towards our country here. these so called activist who seems to be thinking well of themselves, having to think that how they are so loud in their act of defiant and ready to be filmed by the press as so rebelliously hot headed and yelling, throwing poop and climbing on the gates of our embassy there.Well, so much for how are they being portrayed as national heroes in their nation but over in our land, by seeing reports channeled out by media, it is just simply justifying our long in-depth views at how irrelevantly igonrant lower class minded citizens these bunch of people are. We almost had always looked one or two notch down at them, but this recent upheaval, really sealed the perception block. the apelike feces throwing acts, the burning of our Jalur Gemilang, the picketing at our Malaysian embassy, the on top of the gate barking and howling, are all ultimately perceived and judged by our simple minded Malaysian commoners here as acts that only will be done by third class worldwide known reputation society, that tends to always over re-acts to situation. Almost like watching tribe people program in the national Geographic channel. You can never tell the difference.But, out of this out of proportion ordeals, the most disturbing facts would be how could this bunch of people who almost once or even more than that, or got relatives over in our country getting paid by our currency, be it legally or illegally. How could they be so igonrant to the facts at how our soil had been contributing to raising their young generations? how our burnt at Jalur Gemilang were the flag that enable them to feed their family, to enable them to feel at home and much more, enable them to have savings to go further in life. How could they be so nonsensical and non sensitive towards those things? We are almost entirely your bread and basket if compared to your own poor stricken motherland. How rude and shameless of you to scowl and howl at us so disproportionately. How could you keep on biting the hands that continuously with sense and heart keep feeding you and your migrant generations with nutritious way of life and healthy frame of mind? Just remember how disarray and poor you will be if the land that you throw poop at do not need your service anymore. To cease appreciate your non stopping ever flowing group of people from crossing the sea to actually be a human being again. Just hope that after all this biting and chomping of the appreciative hands that never stop to give, we Malaysian are still having the empathy and sympathy to deal with your lower class tribe like antics anymore in the future.Bymindabudaya
Hello Elf, always nice to see you. I too miss the sea now, must head to the beach soon. Yes, YongKian, now I am in Sg. but Asia is my home.
Interesting Read your articles really make me eager to also be a part of a university on foreign land and mainly exposure at Nottingham Malaysia…So damn cheap man, with the amount I spend here I’d never be broke at Malaysia or will I :P… I see a screenshot of a youtube video but it doesnot seem to have a link on this page… I tried to search your youtube channel BenKMT but it appear the videos disappeared. Would like to hear you views on A Level Theater because I considering taking it as my optional 🙂
Hi Nickie, glad you’re considering studying abroad! The spending situation is an interesting one. If you’re willing to follow an asian lifestyle here, and by that I mean eating local asian food, buying clothes locally etc, it’s ridiculously cheap here; but if you can’t let go of Western ideals (assuming you’re from the west!), it can be the complete opposite. Travelling into KL is what takes the majority of my money, taxis cost around RM60/£12 from campus, which doesn’t seem a lot, but when you’re making the same journey a few times a week it really adds up – even when the price is shared. Sorry about the video though, I put it on a private setting because it covers a few questions which are very specific to the school I attended. I’ll post an edited version soon 🙂
Yes, I am from the west and I am really considering looking into Nottingham Malaysia option… Well, the best judge would be when I come and experience it myself. Aint there any public transport in Malaysia?
Till I make it to Malaysia… You enjoy your experience till you can
The best thing would definitely be to come and visit the campus, because it is incredibly different to what I had expected, and what other people had told me about it.
As for public transport, it does exist, but…… well, I think I’ll talk about that later this week!
Another great post son! Now I know where all your money is going – Penang. Thought you guys had access to wheels. What happened? Didn’t tell me about this, we’ll sort out a car for September. Happy to hear about the lock down for exams. Keep up the studying. As for the dog idea – here comes the Dad bit – I do think you should reconsider it. They’re high maintenance. Think about funds. At this point in time, feeding one mouth is hard work, two would be difficult. THINK ABOUT IT. Ok Dad bit over, again.
Suggest you get Eiman back to the Sea – after exams – got to make the most of the waves. Enjoy the exams. Talk soon.
Ben my sexy baybeh! Penang (my home island) is the bomb! Glad you love it as much as I do! <3 another great read!
hi thanks for drnppiog by I am actually educated in the united states healthcare is a problem there for the poorer and elderly..i must agree ..but things are easier and straight forward..in terms of business sense .it is very hard to survive in Malaysia considering that jobs are underpaid when i was schooling other students work off-campus part time and could loan for a car and pay their rental this is how independent and highly paid they are.
Hey Ben it’s me again…..
Another great post….your making me more and more excited about Malaysia can’t wait to get there…..8 months to go…..:D
Yes, one thing I like about Malaysia is how inexpensive commodities are. Food taste great, a one night stay at a 5 star hotel is indeed cheaper than in most countries. It’s convenient for most people, both local/expatriates, who come from a wide range of financial backgrounds. The people from West Malaysia, however, seem to be less friendlier and hospitable compared to the East Malaysians. The people in KL, especially taxi drivers, can be quite hostile and you always have to watch your back when it comes to crime and safety because KL is not exactly the safest place in the world too.
I have no idea about the whole East Malaysians Vs West Malaysians debate, but I completely agree with you about KL. I try to spend as little time in the city as possible, because I genuinely don’t feel safe there. As for the taxi drivers in this country, don’t even get me started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hope to be there one day …