Cultural Uber ride from Port Dickson, Malaysia

by | Sep 29, 2017 | Travel Stories

EDITORIAL NOTE

We try to be true to our philosophy of always looking for the positive side of not so positive experiences. It does not always work, but this time in Port Dickson it did. After a disastrous first day, we kept our belief that something good was going to come out of what so far seemed to be a trip to forget.

This is the story of how an Uber ride turned our negative experience into the most cultural day we had in three months that we staid in Malaysia.

Cultural Farewell from Malaysia

After sleeping off our first “glorious” experience in Port Dickson, we made an effort to keep the spirits high by believing that there was something special in store for us, something positive that was about to change the course of events and turn our short visit to Port Dickson (and our last day in Malaysia) a memorable experience.

Surreal breakfast

We run down for breakfast at 9:50 a.m. hoping to still find something to eat, but we only found leftovers of what seemed to have been a great spread of continental and Asian food. This time we could not complain. We took full responsibility for not setting the alarm, but the truth is that we never thought that we would have been able to sleep for that long in those beds.
As usual, I had difficulty finding something vegan-friendly to eat, but luckily I still had some instant porridge oats that I topped up with a couple of sliced bananas and a honey-like syrup (not something I would normally have). James had a couple of scrambled eggs on white toast (similarly, not something he would normally have). While we ate, fearless screaming rooks ate their way to the table opposite to ours and started to stare at us as if asking “When are you going to clear out, so we can finish the job?”.

Adding to our morning soundtrack was a group of very lively guests playing around with a small ball in the swimming pool, throwing it back and forth. The girls were wearing hijabs and dresses and the guys were fully dressed in t-shirts and shorts.
Our original plan entailed a morning by the swimming pool to relax and exercise, but at that point, we were not sure if we were allowed in the pool in our western beachwear, so we decided to explore the hotel, as it didn’t look like the day was going to develop as we had envisioned.
We found out that the hotel had a captive turtle that they feed twice a day to entertain guests, in addition to hosting a pirarucu fish in a minuscule tank. It is relevant to mention that this fish from the Amazon is one of the largest freshwater fish and can grow to be up to three meters long, though its little cement pond was nowhere near large enough to provide for an adequately sized housing.
We were ready to leave, pronto!

“We must accept fininte dissapointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

American Baptist activist and minister, leader in the Civil Rights movement.

Good things come to those who have faith

We decided to call an Uber and head to the centre of Port Dickson to check out the town and the beaches, after all, that was why we drove one hour away from Kuala Lumpur. After ten minutes Sharif showed up. He was a very well educated and communicative retired bank employee in the early sixties. He told us he lived in Kuala Lumpur and that after our ride he would go back to the city, so we made a deal with him and paid additional 75 Ringgit to the charged fair for him to show us around Port Dickson and then take us to KL airport later that evening. We were returning to Portugal on that same night. It was a win-win situation.
We soon realised that Sharif had a lot of history and culture to share and our ride was about to become the turning point of our stay in Port Dickson.  As soon as he found out where we lived, Sarif suggested we visit Melaka on our next trip to Malaysia, to witness the still present Portuguese influence.

Our adventure started with a stop in one of the many beaches of Port Dickson. We had great expectations, but while we drove toward Teluk Kemang beach Sharif explained that Port Dickson is no longer the town that James remembered from fifty years ago. He explained that the oil companies have taken over the region and the local government doesn’t do anything to preserve the coast because they need the local investment. James could not hide his disappointment at the sight of the once beautiful beaches, yet he felt the need to touch the sea that during so many years fed his childhood memories. I understood that at that moment he brought closure to a chapter of his life which had been so present for so many years.

Sharif told us he had lived in Kuching for four years in the past, but now lives in Kuala Lumpur and works with Uber to keep busy and to save money to accomplish his dream of visiting all the Seven Wonders of The World.
During lunch, we had a very elucidating conversation about the differences between Catholicism and Islam. For the first time, I saw the tree of the twenty-five prophets of Islam, where Jesus Christ is listed as one of them.
We learned that during the rule of the British, each of the nine states of Malaysia had a puppet king to keep things peaceful and that the Indians were brought in to work on the rubber plantations, while the Chinese were brought in to work in tin mining, thus explaining the ethnical diversity of Malaysia today.

Before dropping us off at the airport, Sharif made a detour to show us the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, a planned city where the government was relocated in 1999, while Kuala Lampur remained the country’s capital and where the king, the parliament and the foreign embassies are still located. On the way to, we drove by the nearby town of Cyberjaya, in the Sepang District of Selangor, a town developed twenty years ago, aspiring to become the Malaysian Silicon Valley and where the most important IT companies are establishing their base.

The highlight of the day was the visit to the Putra mosque in Putrajaya. It was quite an important experience as it was the first time we had ever entered a mosque and this one had a particularly sumptuous architecture and was so full of history and faith.

We stretched our time to the limit and made our way to the airport just on time. What started off as one of those episodes that are only good to tell, not necessarily to experience, developed into a very special day, full of history and culture. We cannot wait to go back to learn more about Malaysia.

Terima kasih (thank you) Sharif for sharing your knowledge with us and making our last day in Malaysia so educational and special! See you soon.

May the bliss be with you.

Happy travels!
 
Luciana and James

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