I must admit it was quite a new experience for me, a city kid through and through, to be boarding a train heading to the rural areas in the northern state of Kelantan for my first homestay experience. As a young adult relishing the comforts of a modern world, I wondered how I’d fare in the absence of an internet connection, flashy restaurants and bustling roads.
Nevertheless, my anxious spirits were slightly elevated as I travelled with other Singapore tourists wanting to check out the Malaysia homestay experience as well. Seeing the excitement portrayed on their faces, I thought that perhaps, like them, I should see this as a good opportunity to get away from city life and enjoy the pleasures of simple living for a little while. So I threw my concerns out the window and resigned myself to the experience as I boarded the train.
Silence hangs heavily in the air. The sun is just rising on the graves of 3,908 soldiers at the Labuan Commonwealth Cemetery.
Located along Jalan Tanjung Batu, the cemetery, also known as the World War II Memorial, was constructed and is maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission.
It honours men of the Australian land and air forces, as well as the local forces, who died valiantly during operations for the recovery of Borneo. Some were prisoners of war in Borneo or the Philippines.
The scent of freshly cut jasmine wafts through the air. The kolam decorated intricately with rice powder is a riot of colours. Deepavali treats such as murukku, omapoodi and sweetmeats are prepared for guests.
Preparations are under way for the big celebration of Deepavali in households throughout Malaysia.