1. Alor Setar
This town (I never really could see it as a city) will always have a special place in my heart because this was where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years. I went to primary and secondary school here (SK Iskandar and Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid respectively) and made friends that I am still close to even today. I did a lot of learning and growing up here, from being a snot-nosed child to a snot-nosed adolescent, played most of my rugby here and have relatives still living here. This is where I learned how to pray and read the Quran (Tok Mami's house), tried and failed to organize a prefect dinner, looked at girls in my pubescent years, all that growing up stuff. I still have love for it now because its where I get to meet and catch up with my childhood friends, find good food and good coffee, and just be in a chill environment. It'll always be where I call home.
2. Pulau Pinang
Penang has burnt itself a permanent inside of me by being the place I grew out of my teenage years and started using my brain more. This is mostly due to my wonderful lecturers who taught me during my time in Penang's Teacher Training Institute. It's also the place I learned to get good behind the wheel of a car. Learning to drive in Penang can definitely be considered being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I survived, somehow, and I personally think anyone who can drive in Penang can drive easily anywhere in Malaysia. It remains relevant to me today because I work there now, and good food is around (only if you know where to go), and the beaches are always good getaway spots (again, only if you know where to go).
I credit this foreign land down under for turning me into somewhat of an adult. Over there I had to survive without the help of my parents and without grownups telling me what to do at every turn. It was the place that I first tasted what freedom to make choices felt like, from choosing where I stayed, to where I ate, to what I wanted to study as an elective for whole semesters at a time. It was a weird thing for me, since all my life until then, most of everything I did was following instructions. Then I got to this place and the instructions weren't there anymore. Or at least they weren't as obvious as before. It was both liberating and scary at the same time. In Sydney I learned what it meant to take control of my life and understood how my choices affected (or didn't affect) others around me. I also met some amazing people there, some friends i hope to remain friends with for a very very long time. Over there, I also learned that my biggest weakness was my inability to face my problems head on. I learned that at every chance I got, I ran away from my problems, and that isn't healthy at all. The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that you have one, and that first step was made in Sydney. I am still struggling with it today, but I am grateful that I identified it then rather than later.
4. Twelve Apostles
This is a spot in Australia too, in the state of Victoria. I went there with a couple of friends of mine, and it was the first time I ever had the sensation of breathlessness because of the sheer beauty of a spot in nature. I literally forgot to breathe for a good thirty seconds or so because I was so mezmerized by the amazing view that was in front of me. It has now become my favourite spot in the world, and I would go there at the drop of a hat, if only my circumstances would allow it.
So those are a few places that mean a lot to me. There are some others, but maybe I'll write about them some other time.