Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
After a leisurely start to the day and long breakfast at Old Town White Coffee we set off to explore the Bird Park in the Botanic Gardens. We enjoyed the bird show which features cleverly trained parrots and my daughter bravely participated in one of the events. The bird park is well maintained and the birds are beautiful, exotic and in good health but some of the enclosures are quite small, especially the hornbills, macaws, ostriches and raptors and it made us sad to see these magnificent and large birds enclosed that way. At one point I felt so sad that I felt we participated in their captivity by paying to enter the park. Thankfully the Malaysian school holidays have finished so there was plenty of space and not a huge amount of competition to view the birds. As usual I enjoyed observing the other tourists from around the world.
Afterwards we explored the orchid gardens and rested in the shade while my husband read aloud to us a chapter of Cressida Cowell’s brilliant How to Train Your Dragon book that santa brought my daughter for Christmas. It’s amazing how calming and captivating it is to be read to, especially in an over stimulating environment like a city.
As we tried to navigate our way around the gardens towards the lake using the dodgy tourist map the heavens opened and the accumulated humidity of the morning poured upon us and we gratefully caught a cab into the city. My daughter and I had foot reflexology massages by Burmese massage therapists.
We finished the day with a fantastic dinner at the top rated middle Eastern restaurant in KL, Al Amar in Pavillion. We sat on the terrace on the 6th floor and the food, drinks and shisha were exquisite.
During my massage my 45 year old massage therapist told me his life story. He fled persecution in Myanmar in 1988 through a mountain pass into Thailand where he lived as a fisherman for 5 years with no money, home or friends, from there, while fishing, he watched the Malaysian border until he found a good time and crossed into Malaysia. He lived in Buddhist temples, working for his board and is grateful for Malaysian hospitality and kindness. One Malaysian woman helped him when he arrived in KL and then her husband deserted her and she has been a single mother since her sons were infants. The massage therapist supports her financially and helps to pay for the schooling of her sons. Eventually his wife joined him and they and their children have temporary resident status. They live in a government house that is sublet to them by a Malaysian family that managed to buy a house. Twice he has swum to Singapore and twice been captured by police for not having a passport or permission to be there. One time he was beaten and his friend forged a passport and managed to get him freed so he promptly swam back to Malaysia. He has official UNHCR refugee status and is still waiting to be offered a place somewhere, preferably Australia but the queue is very long (he fled Myanmar 25 years ago). He mentioned catching a boat but I told him the new hard line taken by the Abbott government would see him imprisoned on Manus Island (see my posts on refugees in the Giving menu). His 14 year old nephew has a refugee card from UNHCR and when the boy’s father died his dying mother told him to use her MYR 18,000 to pay an agent with a big office in KL to smuggle him into Australian waters. He is now detained on Christmas Island but is receiving some schooling so the family is happy about his prospects. I begged the massage therapist not to board a boat but to wait for an invitation from the Australian government and come by plane instead and gave him my card so that he can contact me.