In January of this year, I set foot in Malaysia for the first time with a sense of adventure and a desire to go exploring. What I found was a country which felt familiar, yet challenged my western sensibilities. I fell in love with Malaysia’s people, its natural beauty, and its unique place in history.
Not everything about Malaysia is perfect. There are infrastructure deficits – most notably open sewers in some communities which leave you gasping for air. There is petty crime which – like anywhere – stems from some people just not having enough to get by. And while a variety of religions can find acceptance in Malaysia, the country’s government is decidedly regressive on social policy like LGBT rights.
Malaysia made a big impact on me during my month criss-crossing the nation. Here are eight of my biggest takeaways from visiting the country.