Our stay here in Malaysia has been a very different one than that in the Philippines. So far we have lived with 2 different families in 2 villages, some of us climbed a mountain and now we are spending time in Kota Kinabalu where I spent some time on a beach yesterday. In the Philippines we stayed with one family the entire time and spent the majority of our time either in class or alone with our families. Here our activities were much less planned and it has allowed me to really experience SE Asia at my own pace. While climbing mount Trusmadi this past Sunday and Monday was not a cultural experience, it was probably the highlight of my trip so far.
We got to hike through the heart of the jungles of Borneo up to the top of the second highest mountain in SE Asia, stay in a tin shack, only to have the peak be completely covered in clouds. While this was a bit disappointing the whole trek was amazing. The following day was spent on a beach near the city, snorkeling around beautiful coral. This too was a highlight of my trip.
It could be noticed that my favorite parts of the trip so far have had little to do with local culture, religion or people. It is not that my experiences with these things have been negative, only that they have all felt forced in some way. My experiences on my own or with a small group, being with nature, have been the genuine parts of the trip that have impacted me the most.