How My Parents Help Deconstruct My Worldview for Me

It has been half a year since I returned to Malaysia after spending two wonderful years in Thailand.

Lots of things remain the same in my own backyard. Malaysian politics continues to be in a sorry state; the Opposition is still going back and forth around the 1MDB controversy when it could have focused more efforts on presenting a common policy and strategising on how to win rural votes in GE14. Meanwhile, my favourite banana leaf rice still tastes as delicious as always, and the country continues to be seen as a bubbling, bustling melting pot with not only the three usual major races, but also Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Nepalese, and Burmese nationals.

But one thing is obvious: I’ve changed.

I’ve changed, a lot. For the better or for the worst – I don’t know. I came back realising my social circle has changed. My present location isn’t what it used to be. I’m not longer staying at my “Bachelor’s home” as what my uncle would call it. And oh, I’m not only out of almost ten-year singlehood – something I didn’t ask for, but engaged.

And most importantly, I’ve changed in the way I look at and react to things. Some of my values have changed as I meet more and more people, as I explore more and more places and cultural values. What were once priorities to me are no longer priorities at this point in time. As I focus on building another phase of my life, I have set new priorities, new goals for myself. There are certain changes you just have to embrace as the situations and people around you evolve.

I no longer want to be seen as being politically correct every time just to please certain people, to fit into the “ideal” mold of the society. It’s an impossible job – you just can never please everyone.

These changes are not necessarily the product of my two-year escapade in Thailand. They are, in fact, the cumulative result of the experiences, all the ups and downs in my life from way before I resigned to pursue a year-long travel adventure. Of course, those who have been following me know that things had since taken a different turn. But this entry isn’t going into that.

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So, as I reflect upon the changes I’ve experienced all these 12 years that I’ve been away from my family in North Borneo, it suddenly makes me think of the very people whom I feel are responsible for those.

I know that we are the sole controller of our own lives, but let’s put it this way: no one is an island; we live in a community, and there is bound to be some people who serve as the agent of change in our lives.

And my Pa and Mi do just that – helping to deconstruct and reconstruct my worldview.

Of course, they don’t stay with me – I’ve always been away from them. They don’t travel with me often; they also didn’t pursue the two-year adventure in Thailand together with me.

Though not always physically together, they have always given me the best of support I can ever have. Moral and mental support, to be exact.

This is a typical Asian society I’m living in, and it’s not easy for such support without some judgement from certain society members. I’m talking about the kind of support that allows me to pursue my desired course, to venture into my desired field, to follow my dreams, such as self-publishing my own book and taking on a different kind of travel, among many other things I’ve done.

Some parents can’t even let their children stay away from them. But I’m glad and thankful my parents aren’t like that. I am not only away from them, I’m like a nomad, really. Others can’t accept their children dating or marrying anyone outside their race, and yet my sister-in-law is Bidayuh, and my fiancée is Thai.

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Sometimes I do feel bad for my parents. I feel bad that before they could even judge me, others are already passing judgement on me, on us. Sometimes I get flak for what I do, just because I don’t follow people’s formula, just because I don’t conform to what they think is good or ideal for me. It is as if there is a single formula that fits everyone. Every. Single. One.

These are some of the real issues that exist in our very society, ones that never would cross your mind until when things happen. Yet when they do, the issues are right there – hitting you hard like a ton of bricks in your face.

But my parents continue to give me that kind of support. They know that as long as I don’t break any rules and regulations, so long as I’m always doing my best in what I do, and as long as I’m happy, that’s all it matters.

This is how strong Pa’s and Mi’s support has been. They let me see the world; learn more about people; revisit, deconstruct, and reconstruct my values, my worldview. Had they not given me the freedom to pursue my dreams, to man up to take ownership of my own life, to make mistakes, I will remain stagnant and in the same spot, in my comfort zone, still looking sparkling clean and perfect from the outside, but with very little depth from the inside.

Train 46 Padang Besar to Bangkok: Everything You Need to Know

As some of you may have been aware, the International Express Train 36 from Butterworth to Bangkok is no longer continued beginning December 2, 2016.

Train 36 is now replaced by Train 46 from Padang Besar in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis all the way to Bangkok. Butterworth (Penang) and Padang Besar are now connected via the KTM Komuter shuttle service that operates quite a number of times daily between 5.30am and 12am (see table below).

Train 46 Padang Besar to Bangkok: Everything You Need to Know
Click to enlarge.

The service between Butterworth and Padang Besar normally takes less than 2 hours.

Last month, for the first time since the change of the said service I took Train 46 from Padang Besar to Chumphon. In comparison to Train 36, the new service is of course relatively less convenient for someone like me who takes off from Butterworth, as it now requires more travel time.

Read: Discontinued: Senandung Langkawi (Train No. 20) from KL to Hatyai

Train 46 departs from the Padang Besar KTM Train Station every evening and would arrive at Hua Lamphong in Bangkok at 10.10am Thai time the next day. Here are a few things you should take note of when taking this service:

  1. You can book the ticket either on, or over the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) counter inside the Padang Besar KTM Train Station. Pay in Baht for the latter service.
  2. Train 46 will depart from the Padang Besar KTM Train Station at 18:00 or 6pm Malaysian time. When purchasing the ticket over the SRT counter or through the SRT website however, it will tell you the departure time is at 17:00 or 5pm instead, because they are using the Thai time. So don’t be confused.
  3. If you are taking the KTM shuttle service from Butterworth to Padang Besar, I would recommend so that you DO NOT take any trip after the 12.25pm one. For reason see point #4.
  4. For the afternoon session of passport stamping, the Thai and Malaysian immigration counters will typically open around the same time at 3pm Malaysian time then close at 4.30pm depending on crowds. I cannot say the same for weekends. Whatever it is, always arrive earlier to avoid any inconvenience.
  5. At the Padang Besar KTM Train Station/Immigration Checkpoint, if you are travelling to Thailand from Malaysia, always get your passport stamped at the Malaysian immigration counter first before the Thai side. If coming from Thailand, then it would be the other way round.
  6. At the Padang Besar KTM Train Station, one can travel to Hatyai costing only 50 Baht per trip, provided he takes the train service either at 9.55am or 3.40pm Malaysian time. If one hops on Train 46 at 6pm just to get to Hatyai, it would cost him a staggering 280 Baht.

Well, that’s it for now! Will update again if anything new crops up.

I’m Ken, a passionate traveller from the exotic island of Borneo. Currently a teacher in a rural town in Southern Thailand, from time to time I share on this blog my experiences teaching the kids and living a laid-back lifestyle here. With a focus on all things Thailand, also features a handful of stories about my travel adventures in other Asian countries.