Jeez. First 3 week stint in a completely new country for me and it has been an absolutely wild ride. Since there’s been so many experiences I think it’s better if I split this post into categories instead of by tournaments. I visited two cities in Malaysia (Kuching and Kuala Lumpur) which were pretty wildly different as well so I’ll try to give the rundown of both in each category.
Food: Because let’s be honest, this is what everyone asks about and wants to know about first. BY AND LARGE, the food here has been fantastic. It’s extraordinarily cheap and honestly it’s pretty damn good too. It seems that Malaysians REALLY like their large shopping malls/department stores. There was always one not too far away with virtually identical food courts. Luckily, the way Malaysia handles their food courts is a little differently than America. It isn’t just a hodgepodge of brandname fast food thrown together, but rather a pretty organized effort all run by the shopping mall. There would be maybe 15 small counter shops each selling one type of food: Korean, Japanese, Laksa and Mee (popular in Malaysia), Vietnamese, Chicken and Rice, Western, etc. Honestly, it was delicious and if i haven’t mentioned already, extraordinarily cheap. A bowl of noodles in Kuching cost 6 Ringgit, that’s less than $1.50. It was slightly more expensive in Kuala Lumpur but needless to say, a bowl
of noodles in Kuala Lumpur is a heck of a lot cheaper than a bowl of noodles in LA.
So why did I capitalize the “BY AND LARGE”? Well it’s currently Sunday the 5th and It’s currently been my 3rd day suffering from afood poisoning. I’m feeling well enough to travel to Taiwan tomorrow morning but goodness, the previous two days may have been the most miserable 48 hours of my life. (Don’t worry. I’ll spare you guys the food poisoning pics)
Culture: It was surprisingly easy to get around in Malaysia. While the primary spoken language here is still Malay, I have yet to meet someone who didn’t at least speak functional broken English. In fact, most people can hold a basic conversation in English and just as many are completely fluent in Chinese. Since I had only really been to Taiwan and China before my visit here, this was extremely shocking to me. Taiwan, China, Korea, and Japan: NO ONE speaks English. It’s actually something I had never really thought because I speak Mandarin about but talking to the players here, a lot of them are actually pretty afraid to go to China. They hear horror stories of they hear of how it’s impossible to get around, buy food, etc. Here? Everything was a piece of cake.
That being said, it is easy to see how Malaysia is less developed than those countries and the Western world as well. Outside of a small portion of Kuala Lumpur (by the KL tower and the twin towers) Malaysia was pretty rural or a little dirtier. It’s certainly not that bad but, for example, a lot of Asian countries have night markets with street food. For the majority of this street food, the food will be cooked on the spot for you so as to be a little fresher or cleaner. Here, though, the food is cooked beforehand, left out in the open for however long, and then heated up a bit for you when you buy. While it’s just a cultural thing, I wasn’t comfortable enough with it to give it a shot although I guess I ended up getting sick anyways haha. I think it also felt a little dirtier because of the overcrowded streets combined with the homeless population. As sad as it is, I think that Malaysia being underdeveloped results in an even greater extreme between the high class and the low class. The street outside of my hotel in KL is constantly filled with the homeless.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Malaysia and found it be both very different and very enjoyable (outside of the last 3 days)
Tennis: Tennis actually turned out to be pretty good and overall I’d say I’m satisfied with how I played. The first week was a little tough trying to adjust to the whole time change, temperature change, humidity change, etc. Losing first round in week 1 in a very winnable match was extremely disappointing but it’s still only one week and I’m sure I will have many many more disappointing losses in the future. However, I bounced back pretty well in the next two weeks in KL. I started finding my rhythm after struggling through a couple qualifying matches in F2 and I ended up knocking out a seed and reaching the quarters in F2. I didn’t play too well in the quarters which sucks but I had played 5 matches leading up to that point already so it was a decent result. Third week I won my first round before facing F2’s champion and honestly I played pretty well. I lost an extremely close 3-setter and he was just too clutch with his serve. Once he started getting tired and his ground game started deteriorating, he finished out the match with 7 straight aces. Too good. I guess that’s how you get into the 200s. That’s the second time I’ve barely missed out on beating a guy inside the top 300 so I just gotta keep my grinding and eventually one will fall my way.
For now, I’ll be headed to Taiwan for a bit. I really need to get out of qualifying. The 3 extra matches every week are pretty brutal for the body so I need the week or so of rest right now before I head back out. Not to mention I definitely need the rest to recover from the food poisoning. Not quite sure where the next stop will be but overall pretty good start to the trip! Picked up 3 more points so my ATP point total is now at 10. Should be right around 1000 once they all come online. Hopefully I can pick up another couple points before the year and end the year inside the top 1000!