A trip back to the motherland is always truly meaningful to me, teaching invaluable lessons which have continued to mould me to this day. Among the lessons learned through the trips are that of humility, gratitude, selflessness, respect and togetherness.

My most recent trip in January 2019 to Malaysia was no different. After more than a year since my last trip due to work commitments back in 2018, there had been plenty of changes both back in Malaysia and in my life in Brisbane.

Many admirable qualities are demonstrated in the everyday Malaysians’ way of carrying themselves, particularly from what I see in those close to me during the trip such as my cousins and half-siblings.

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The utmost respect is always shown to those elder to them no matter how educated one is or high one’s position is in the workforce. They share with anything and everything. They make sure everyone is included and looked after at all times. They put the needs of everyone else before themselves.

From what I observed, these characteristics of the everyday Malaysian were displayed in day-to-day activities and during special occasions or events.

My trips to Malaysia thus far have always been very much a family affair.  I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city, but I’ve spent most of my life in Australia, so everyone from my aunties, uncles, grandmother, and cousins are all happily living in Malaysia. I play catch-ups for most of my trip there, but as a traveller, I fit in as much sightseeing, exploring, and touristing as possible.

Part of my trip was to spend time with my old man who, like me, also took leave and decided to start the new year 2019 with a trip back to the motherland. My father works in Saudi Arabia with a base in Malaysia, where my half siblings call home.

My father and I strengthened our bond over the simplest of activities, which mean the most. These activities include being woken up at 8 am every day where he comes into my room to tell me what the agenda was for breakfast – whether we were going out for some laidback Roti Canai (a Malaysian staple breakfast of a flat, round South Asian bread with dips such as curry or dahl), Nasi Lemak (another Malaysian staple of coconut rice, chilli paste, anchovies and egg), or some home-cooking; exploring one of Kuala Lumpur’s many outer suburbs multi-story grand shopping centres; or sitting in his beautifully-decorated lounge room having tea where we mull over the year that has been with highlights from our respective professions.

An enjoyable variation in the trip was when my father and other relatives went on a holiday within a holiday to the coastal town of Port Dickson, which is just over an hour’s travel by car from Kuala Lumpur.

We spent three days and two nights there, where we spent quality time, doing the simple things like cooking together, visiting other relatives nearby, checking out the farmers markets and completing our checklist of Malaysian delicacies to eat, having dinner out and swimming at the beach.

My most recent trip to Malaysia was one where I did a lot less shopping and sightseeing. Interestingly, it has been the most meaningful one by far, where I spent quality time with as many close relatives as possible.