Some of my students were curious about my trip to Malaysia last month, so I decided to blog some of my photos and the events of my trip.
My husband and I flew via Hong Kong on January 14. Of course, by the time we arrived, it was January 15, because of the 13 hours they are ahead of us.
This was one of many signs in the airport welcoming people in a wide variety of languages to Hong Kong. It is about a 15 hour flight from Toronto to Hong Kong. We left Hamilton by bus at 10:20 pm on January 13, as our flight left Toronto at 1:20 am January 14. Surprisingly, we got a lot of sleep on the plane.
The flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur is about 3 and a half hours long. This was one of the first sights that greeted us when we arrived in Malaysia at the airport.
Another unexpected sight was what looked like part of a tropical forest in enclosed glass right in the airport:
We were picked up at the airport by our kind host, the President of the Malaysian Kumon Association. She took us to collect her daughter from school and treat us to the first of many delicious Asian meals we enjoyed there, and then we went to her beautiful, spacious home to begin to recover from jet lag.
As this was a business trip, I was keen to see at least two Kumon centres. It was fascinating to see both the marked differences between Kumon there and Kumon here.
Malaysian, of course, is the primary language of signs on the streets, though everyone we interacted with spoke fluent English.
One cool feature of the tables at one of the centres we saw was this handy shelf under the table where students can slip stuff out of the way while doing worksheets.
I also really liked this Kumon backpack the students all had, instead of a pouch. Notice the bare feet. Everyone at the centre was barefoot, and when we were at the house where we were staying, we always removed our shoes before going inside.
The main purpose of my trip though wasn’t to visit Kumon centres, but rather to present at the annual meeting of the association there. But the committee was determined that we experience as much of Malaysia as we could while we were there, so we did do a fair amount of sight seeing in three very, very full days. One of the most entertaining places was a large open area where many monkeys came to be fed and hang out with anyone who visited them. The baby monkeys were especially adorable.
My husband made friends with one in particular.
We went to an orchid farm with stunningly beautiful and colourful flowers like this.
This statue of Buddha was amazing. It is much larger than it appears here as it is set into a cliff. There were also many little caves there showing the 18 different hells people could suffer if they did not live a virtuous life.
We visited a number of other places – the rice fields and the mill where the rice is processed, vital of course for a country where rice is a huge part of the diet; the night market, a phenomenon that springs up in any place with sufficient population full of a bewildering variety of stalls selling many kinds of goods and foods; a great field where kites were being flown by families relaxing after work and school; Little India in Kuala Lumpur, all decked out and festive in preparation for the Chinese New Year; and, of course, a number of Chinese and Indian restaurants where we ate far too much and enjoyed every minute of it.
The second to last day was the annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur. My presentation on international cooperation between Kumon associations worldwide and why associations are so vital to franchisees was well received, and we all were also intrigued by an excellent presentation following mine on NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).
Here I am with the association President (immediately to my left) and six out of the nine other members of her committee. I had spent quite a bit of time with four of these women as they were on our sightseeing adventures together with my husband and me.
The last day, unfortunately, my husband was not feeling well, so we relaxed at a hotel which had, to my delight, an infinity pool.
It was at the top of the hotel and you can see the plexiglass wall (but not the gap between the edge of the pool and the wall) that meant there is no danger falling over the edge down below!
The next day was back to the airport for another 24 hour travel home. The trip is impossible to encapsulate in one short blog. There were a plethora of intense discussions in which we learned much about the politics and history of Malaysia, the plans of the association for the future and the triumphs of the past short years since its inception, and many, many unforgettable impressions of a part of the world neither of us had ever seen before.
I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to travel there on the kind invitation of that association, for the extremely warm and generous hospitality of all who welcomed us, and for the learnings of our week. I am looking forward to the next excursion to a tropical Kumon location, the Riviera Maya in Mexico, near Cancun, where the Kumon North American conference will be held in July of this year.