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Monday, February 6, 2017

One Place to Avoid: Crossing Malaysia/Thailand Border from Malaysia

This story came up in conversation at church two days ago and I thought I would share this crazy experience on my blog. Two years ago my friend Jay Dalton went to Malaysia for vacation. My friend Rick Johnson was living in Subang Jaya (21.5 km south of Kuala Lumpur) and he allowed us to borrow his Malaysian made Perodua car. After hanging out in the southern area for a couple of days and seeing Petronas Tower, we wanted to check out Penang Island.

But before going to Penang, we thought we would be adventurous. We thought we could cross the Malaysia/Thailand border and say that we saw two countries on the trip. Good idea? Well not exactly.

On the way to the border, we saw the nature of Malaysia and had no problems with the smooth highways. The drivers were a bit aggressive, but other than that, it was a comfortable ride to the border and it was green on both sides.

Then we knew we were getting close since Bukit Kayu Hitam. which was one city along the Malaysia/Thailand border.

As we got closer to the border, we got our passports out to show we were just about there!

When we reached the border, entering Thailand was not a problem. But we realized that as soon as we crossed the border, the whole atmosphere changed. The roads became bumpy, there was a lot of construction, and it just looked like a third world country. This was not the Bangkok area of Thailand.  In fact this area of Thailand was only about 2-3 hours away from Myanmar. It was a definitely a lot seedier. We parked our car near the border and thought we would find a Thai restaurant to eat at or do some sightseeing. But we just didn't feel right there. A few people were staring at us and it didn't look like a place where your average tourist would look around.  We did see one Thai Buddhist shrine, so this proves we were in Thailand!

But the general area looked something like the picture below. It was poor, the streets weren't very clean, and definitely not welcoming to tourists.

Therefore we made the decision to leave before it got dark. We turned around and drove for about two minutes back to the border:

As soon as we got there, this one thin, dark-skinned Thai man with a long shot gun approached our car. He tapped the top of the car with the gun. My friend Jay rolled down the window and he seemed surprised when he saw Jay driving the car. Then he saw me and that surprise turned into shock. The first words out of his mouth were "Farang! Farang!" We assumed it meant "foreigner". We later found out that it meant "white person". Jay was stunned by his response and he thought that if we waited, we might be in some big trouble, so he gunned it, came to the booth, paid the money to cross the border, and we escaped.

Jay found out later that they could have possibly interrogated us or asked us for more money, or both. We were pretty happy that we didn't stick around. We laughed once we got into Malaysia and kept imitating his accent. Now, I'm thankful that nothing worse happened!

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Previous Day's Interesting Moments of Teaching

First class: I had one student that woke up at 5:00am for his 7:00am class. Thankfully despite that he was really tired, he still had a great sense of humor. I asked him to make some sentences comparing different activities. His level is high beginner/low intermediate. One of the comparisons was "firing somebody" or "getting fired". Here's the sentence that he created: "Firing somebody is more fun than getting fired because I've never done that and I really want to!" This was an excellent sentence for his level and very funny!

Second class: I had one student who was a Korean man in his late 30s. I was amazed at how much disdain he had for Korea, which was rare to see from a Korean male at his age.  He felt that compared to Japan or European countries, Korea lacked ethics and morals and he just couldn't wait to leave. He said he felt that even though Japanese people might hide their feelings, they're much more polite and kinder to strangers and felt that Koreans were way behind Japan in that area. He said he would travel to Hiroshima, Japan for three months since he's single and then go to Europe, travel, and finally hope to get a job there.

Despite being on a split shift and feeling very tired in the mornings at times, these kinds of situations make me thankful for my job. Teaching elementary and middle school students in the past was a great experience, but much more stressful (especially middle school students).

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy