Flew back from Malaysia overnight with BA after a fairly full-on week of work. I got a nice seat (thanks @FrankDJS!) in business class which guaranteed me a few hours of sleep. As did the fact that I hadn’t slept properly since I got to Malaysia.
Oh, I was over the jet-lag within 48 hours – it was the other hotel guests who kept me awake.
At the risk of a gross over-simplification of the situation, I’d point out two things: every single Malaysian person I met while there was just so nice. Demure, polite, smiling, helpful and generally calm. I’m not talking about the Malaysian guests. The majority of hotel guests seemed to have been visiting this resort for Ramadan from the Middle East, somewhere I’ve never been. So I won’t claim in any way to be familiar with the cultures in this countries.
But I do know what pisses me off. Letting your kids run through the hotel corridors at 2am, while slamming doors. That is just plain rude. Kicking hotel room doors at 4am, so you can drag your kids to breakfast before the sun rises and your self-omposed fast begins. That is also rude. And inconsiderate.
And filming me with your smartphone in the gym while I sweat my ass off while you hide behind a niqab? That’s just plain creepy. And I know it wouldn’t have been accepted if the roles were reversed. I didn’t complain re the latter (but the hotel heard from me about the noise at night) because I didn’t want to get into a fight I couldn’t win. I was ferociously outnumbered.
So… two lessons learnt. One, don’t visit Malaysia during Ramadan ever again. Not unless I want to deal with a bunch of entitled, haughty and rude interlopers. (The way some of them spoke to the incredibly friendly hotel staff was simply sickening). Not unless I want to experience the kind of jarring culture clash you feel where your values are in the extreme minority.
I’m not a Daily Mail-reading xenophobe. I love travelling and I love experiencing other cultures. But that doesn’t mean I have to like or ignore all the cultural differences I encounter. I’d definitely go back to Malaysia. I’d just time my visit differently.
Two, don’t even begin to think about where that iPhone gym footage ended up. That way lies sleepless nights.
I landed at Heathrow a little after 0500 and walked in my front door at 0659. Not bad, considering the queues at passport control. Since then, it’s been unpacking, laundry and a quick trip to the gym to wake my body up. And putting that gym video out of my mind…