Tonight I went for a short hike in Kuala Lumpur. I was in a neighborhood not far from the city center.
My friends and I wandered around and found a trail.
Shortly we found ourselves in a makeshift plywood village. We smiled. "It's always and adventure!", Mike said.
"Yep", I replied.
They didn't speak Bahasa Malaysia. They didn't look Thai or Indonesian. So who were they?
"AH... I bet they're Bangladeshi", I said confidently.
I remarked about how when I worked in construction I wanted a cold beer and a nice air conditioned room to sleep in after work.
These guys were not drinking cold beer nor sleeping in a nice comfortable bed after work. Instead, they had a plywood floor, an outhouse for a toilet, and a bowl of rice until they woke up the next morning to go back and pound a hammer into some wood.
"I bet they make $5 a day, if that", I proclaimed.
It must be better than what they have back home or they'd leave.
So what's the point of all this?
Well, I realized how 'soft' I am compared to many folks in the world. My days of working construction were hard. I worked in the blazing Georgia sun laying shingles, digging ditches and painting houses.. but at least I had a nice bed and cold beer to go back to.
These people had a plywood shack and a bowl of rice. Yet somehow they are more welcoming and appreciative of what they have than many McMericans I have met with the 'somebody owes me something attitude' of so many folks back home.
I also realized how eager I was to go stumbling into a 'ghetto' or 'barrio' type 'hood full of strangers with dark skin! I think it's mainly because I never felt threatened by the dark skinned inhabitants. Maybe they aren't as bad as I was raised to believe in the South of 'Merica?!
Hey, did I mention that I had just been to the bank and had $1000 local dollars in my pocket?
'Land of the Free' they call my place of birth. So why can't I do what I just described back home? Why did I have to come to SE Asia to discover racial tolerance, religious acceptance and freedom to walk around in a strange place full of strangers and feel comfortable?
Maybe McMerica isn't what it's cracked up to be after all?