It has been almost two weeks since I got back from my New Colombo Plan (NCP) funded trip, and I am already missing Malaysia and its people after spending two amazing weeks there. I was fortunate enough to be granted the NCP scholarship to the National University of Malaysia (UKM) along with seven other Flinders University students. The main purpose of the trip was to explore the tropical heritage of Malaysia, its landscapes, and how they provide sustainable ecotourism while protecting these natural heritage sites. However, in addition to this, we were also able and even encouraged to travel and experience as much of Malaysian culture as possible.
I flew out of Adelaide on the 5th of July to start my month long stay at UKM. The university dorms where we stayed were at the Bangi campus Kolej Ibu Zain and were reasonably close to Kuala Lumpur city. For our lectures, we made our way around the Bangi campus by either walking or using the loop bus services. UKM provided a university bus for our fieldtrip commutes. Going in and out of the city and surrounding areas, we used a combination of the MRT/KTM trains and GRAB (like Uber). UKM provided catering services that served breakfast from 7am, lunch from 12 to 1 in between activities, dinner from 7pm, and snacks in between.
Our first three days were spent in one of the lecture rooms where we had lectures from 9-5. It was tiring, but we learnt all about the Malaysian tropical heritage and ecosystems as well as how they are preserved. This also laid down foundational knowledge for our field trips to better understand and appreciate the heritage sites we visited. For our field trips, we travelled to Bukit Melawati where we got to watch and feed some of the native Monkey species during the day and watch the fireflies come alight at night at the Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park. We visited the Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve to observe the dragon- and damsel flies and got to make the climb to the Batu Caves afterward. We also learnt, practised and performed a Malaysian traditional dance at an official ceremony in front of Malaysian and Mexican officials before leaving for our flight to lake Langkawi where we had more lectures and visited two of the three geoparks there (Kilim Karst and Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Parks) as well as a geopark school and a traditional rice farm. On our last day we had a guided Edu-trip to Kuala Lumpur where we visited the Central Market, one of the museums, the Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC, and had roti tissue.
We were also given some free time to explore in which our group decided to visit the Islamic Arts Museum and the Bird Park in KL. We visited a night market in Bangi and saw KL Sentral. In Langkawi, we stopped at the Kraft centre where we got to try our hand at traditional Batik painting, one of the beaches, and spent a day in Chenang. We also got to try some of the AMAZING local food such as Nasi Lemak, Nasi Kandar, Roti Canai, Banana leaf curry, Mi Goreng, and chicken rice, to name a few.
Even though the course ended on July 22nd, I was still able to travel to Singapore for a couple days after that and do some sightseeing there. That way I got to see two countries in one trip. Another student chose to visit Penang.
Overall, the trip and the whole NCP project was a great and worthwhile experience that I would recommend to any students that want to get something more out of their study and wish to experience a completely different culture. Seeing Malaysia was eye-opening and I learnt a lot through my travels here.
Cara-Mae Shipley, Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Forensic and Analytical Science) participated in a New Colombo Plan funded trip to UKM, Malaysia during S1 2019
Read Cara-Mae’s 1st blog here