the journey

having spent nine years away from malaysia, and spending only an approximate two months every year for the holidays, i don't get many opportunities to feel very malaysian. oftentimes, when i return home, events are happening that i'm not aware of, people are speaking in dialects i am slowly starting to forget, and that in itself makes me really sad, because malaysia is supposed to be my home, yet it is growing into something so different from what it previously was before i left. it's growing into something i am unfamiliar with.

which is why watching the film 'the journey', directed by a local Chiu Keng Guan, made me so extremely and irrevocably happy. every single thing, from the malaysian lingo (pancit tyres, yes) to the little details (how we buy clothes at street markets), had me feeling so much at home.

every time, after a line is uttered by someone onscreen that perfectly portrays the Malaysian society and lifestyle, there would be roaring laughter from the audience, with people repeating that particular line to a friend, a lover, a relative, or even a stranger sitting beside them, as if by repeating it, they could embed it into their brains to remember for a future conversation. it felt amazing, sitting there in this big and dark cinema, bonding unconsciously with people i've never met and might never meet again after we leave that place, and in those two fleeting hours, i felt more at home than i have felt in a long, long time.

this film is a local film, and it's only showing in local cinemas. a part of me wishes that everybody else outside of malaysia could watch it, but they would never understand it, due to the multiplicity of languages and dialects spoken (dialogues are often said with one speaking cantonese and the other speaking chinese). places where us locals laugh would probably be greeted by silence if viewed by somebody who wasn't malaysian. i just wish they could see how amazingly diverse my country is. even so, i guess the fact that this film might never be watched (or understood) by non-malaysians can be a good thing, because this is something that only we will ever appreciate. a sort of inside joke, if you will.

i've spent half of this post praising this film, but that's not to say that there weren't flaws. there certainly was, from the occasional cheesy lines delivered by the lead caucasian male to the fairly predictable plot line, but it was all in the tiny details, as well as the fact that it resonated so well with the people in that cinema and beyond that makes it, in my opinion, one of the best films i've seen in years.

till next time,


  1. hi alexius, which country have u been living in if i may ask?
    i would like to let you know it's nice to stumble upon this post (& blog). i was just thinking to myself how distinct and calm this blog feels and then i read you're only 17!

    it must be tough for you to suit yourself back to malaysian culture after being away for so many years but i guess the upside is that you mature emotionally and mentally more than the kids your age in malaysia and you relate yourself to the things and people around you more.

    people tend to appreciate the warmth back at home more when they're away dont they? as for myself i feel uninspired being stuck in malaysia, its a shame really. im an art graduate i need to make art but i have no idea where to start. which is why i wish i could fly somewhere else to breathe new air and see new things and maybe i can even learn to value my own country and her culture!

    anyway, i have seen this film too and i must say it depicts the malaysian culture perfectly. though i wish there arent any sexist (eg making fun of the agua tree) or racist (not the prejudice against benji, it was something else but i cant seem to remember) messages in the dialogues because i think it's time for malaysian audience to take racial & sexual discrimination seriously.

    wow im so sorry for the long message and i probably dont make sense but i think you're quite something! (love the film photos!)


    1. hi sydney, thank you so much for your kind words!

      i've been living abroad in china and i've actually started to get used to the constant switch between malaysia and china, but that makes me sad because in a way i don't want to get used to it. i don't want to be accustomed to a foreign culture, if that makes any sense. i want to be accustomed only to my home culture.

      i suppose you always miss what you don't have. people who have lived their whole lives at home yearn to leave but people like me who don't get to spend too much time in malaysia yearn to return. yet i completely understand what you mean when you say you want to fly elsewhere and breathe new air because i am a sucker for travels, and i suppose living abroad has helped me better appreciate (and adapt to) different cultures.

      i agree with you completely about sexism and racial discrimination in malaysia. in the not-very-long time i've spent in malaysia, i've noticed many instances of these and it's always made me uncomfortable. however, despite this, i've also noticed changes, however minute they sometimes might be. but i have faith that malaysia will one day treat these issues head on and become a place of equality (am i being overly naïve and hopeful? perhaps. but i don't think there's much harm in that.)

      i wish you luck with your art career! i've always been a avid admirer of people who can paint and draw and sculpt, as i have near zero talent when it comes to visual arts. i suppose malaysia is a pretty challenging place to develop as an artist, but you never know! malaysia has always surprised me with its hidden opportunities; maybe one day it'll surprise you, too!

      - alexius.

      oh, and i absolutely love your name!


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