Not to be confused with Merdeka Day
16 September is Malaysia Day. It commemorates the joining of the various Malayan states into the country of Malaysia in 1963. As best I can tell, there’s sort of a general celebration of “Malaysian-ness” lasting from Merdeka Day on 31 August through Malaysia Day on 16 September. Like Merdeka Day, Malaysia Day is also a public holiday, so Micah didn’t have to work. We had planned an excursion to the KL Bird Park last weekend, but we got rained out. Malaysia Day, 2 days later, seemed like a perfect day to reschedule. I was concerned there would be a thousand kids there, like there would be at an American zoo on a day off, but it wasn’t bad!
The Bird Park is a free flight aviary, covering almost 30 acres. It’s in an area of KL formerly known as Lake Gardens. Guess what? There is a lake. As well as gardens. It’s now called Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park; Abdul Razak being the second Prime Minister of Malaysia. The park is about 150 acres and houses many museums and gardens, as well as the National Mosque, and has a jogging trail through it. The park was first started in the late 19th century by the British. Someone told me something to the effect of “The British tried to find a way to civilize the jungle so they could have a retreat.” It definitely feels like a retreat. We were about 4 train stops away from where we live and it felt like we were a million miles away from the city.
We spent about 4 hours walking around, including a lunch break. It felt like the perfect amount of time- we enjoyed everything, and just as we reached the end of the trail we felt saturated with seeing birds. There were two sights that really stood out and made the day very memorable for me. The first thing that was really cool was seeing a male peacock display his plumage. I don’t remember ever seeing that before, and we saw 2 or 3! The other sight that was unique was seeing a rhinoceros hornbill while we were eating lunch. Before we walked into the cafe, we had seen 1 or 2 different types of hornbills in exhibit cages but hadn’t seen any in free flight. We were seated outside, which seemed undesirable at first since the inside section was air conditioned. But, as we sat there, several birds came and perched on the overhang – including two different hornbills! It was very beautiful. After lunch, we didn’t see any other free-flight hornbills, so I think we were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
The full photo album from our Bird Park trip is here. I know, I know. I said I’d try Shutterfly. Turns out I can upload directly from the photo program on my computer to Flickr. If it makes uploading any easier on the world’s 10th slowest internet connection (not hyberbole), I’m for it. I made all of our albums public, so you should be able to see it without creating an account.
In Other News…
We are still really enjoying the food. We are almost ready to break our “don’t eat the same thing twice” rule. We found a favorite hawker stall for dinner, near our hotel. We can both get dinner and a drink for the equivalent of $5 USD. It’s fantastic. We have eaten there twice, rice once and noodles once. The second time they remembered us and remembered that Micah likes his spicy and I like mine “not spicy.” (That seems to be the choice, rather than spicy or mild it is spicy or not spicy.) The stalls near our hotel are definitely not for tourists, very few of the hawkers speak English and none of them have menus. We aren’t intimidated by the language barrier and we have managed so far. It’s the not having menus that is difficult! Locals can walk up, see what is being offered, and order it. We either have to guess, or hope that the hawker offers us some choices. I’ve been to two different stalls there and so far so good! Now that we’ve visited the same stall twice, and they remember us, I think we are ready to start asking questions. Surely they sell more than chicken fried rice and chicken fried noodles! Actually, we know they do because we saw someone else with a different dish. We just don’t know how to ask for it yet.