Category Archives: Malaysia

The Other Fellow First

If you don’t know me, it’s simple. I have a life saying, The Other Fellow First, which has been preached to both of my children since day 1. The motto comes from Camp Dudley. Sebastian & Louisa will be going for their 4th season this summer and are the 3G of Gammills.

So why mention a camp motto now? Let me explain. When you put yourself out there in the world, in places that you have never been, have no idea about the language, and are basically in a vulnerable position, you find that many people from many cultures have the same life motto simply by experience.

For example:

  • A friend of my cousin’s welcomes us (strangers) into their home in Wanaka, New Zealand, serves us a delicious steak with plenty of wine, and then says we are welcome to stay as long as we want.
  • Air BnB host takes her day off to drive us around Sydney and then to share a secret beach to swim.
  • Another Air BnB host uses her day off to drive us to the Barossa wine country and takes us to exclusive wineries that she has access. Cool!
  • Australian volunteer in Nusa Penida, Indonesia, notices that Sebastian really likes fireworks on New Year’s Eve (shocker!) and gives him an armful to take on our journey to Bali.
  • The sister of a friend not only hosts us in her apartment but takes us out to dinners and arranges our sightseeing in Malaysia.
  • An elderly Thai woman with her adult daughter are sitting next to us at a food stall in Bangkok. Daughter hands my wife a local drink and says, “Here, this is for you and what Thai like to drink.” Then her mother turns around and hands us a grilled banana. Yum!
  • I’d like to close with yet one more example of why I feel strongly about education through experience for my children. Onn is a longtime high school buddy and I am glad that we’ve stayed in touch over the years. To put it simply (and I will be sharing a separate blog on our Penang experience), Onn took us into his home with his family and provided a place to stay. More than that, he showed my children the meaning of The Other Fellow First. He embraced them, taught them some martial arts, fed them amazing foods, and played with them on ziplines and ropes. I could go on and on but the moral of this story is that both Sebastian and Louisa saw how happy Onn was to share his life and talents. How he truly practiced and lived The Other Fellow First.

My perspective is quite one-dimensional when it comes to teaching my children (just as many parents, we want the best for them). It’s a wonderful feeling to experience and share similar values with both friends and strangers from all walks of life. And even better when those people impact your children in a positive way, much like that teacher you always loved!

The Other Fellow First – a darn good reason to get outside, meet others, and share your values! Thank you to Onn, Wai Fung, Sue, Mel, the Turner Family and everyone of you that practices The Other Fellow First!

P.S. Just off the press are these two articles for you to enjoy and they apply to this blog: Timeless Appeal and NYT Solo Traveler

Kuala Lumpur & Malacca

We left Singapore in style riding a comfortable bus to Kuala Lumpur; the kids were happy because it had a movie screen in each seat. The experience was quite unique for us, but nicer than going through the maddening security lines at airports. We stopped at Singapore immigration and then at the Malaysia border for passport processing. No problems except for the one bottle of wine we brought as a gift for our host (they let us through) and a few hours later we arrived in Kuala Lumpur to meet our new friend, Wai Fung.

One of the best things about our trip is all the people we meet and KL was no different. My friend, Kin, who is from Malaysia but lives in San Francisco, introduced us to her dear sister, Wai Fung, and her lovely family. They were incredible hosts! We really felt at home thanks to Wai Fung and her husband, Derrick, who lent us their beautiful apartment and welcomed us into their lives. We shared many meals together including Italian, Japanese, and a delicious Chinese dinner with friends. Just as in life, it is the friends that made this a very special stay in KL! Thanks to Wai Fung and her family.

KL turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for us. We enjoyed visiting the Batu Caves and hiking up the stairs to see the huge cave. Wai Fung also booked the tour for us to go up the Petronas Twin Towers, the highest twin tours in the world. It was a clear day and it was pretty cool to be in the Observation Deck at level 86.  These towers are the tallest twin towers in the world (only to have been eclipsed by the World Trade Center Towers). The surrounding area has this really cool mall – Suria KLCC – where we had lunch and did some window shopping as well as a beautiful garden with this amazing playground that the kids let some energy go while we chilled. At night there is a colorful water show that reminds me of Las Vegas.




Petronas Twin Towers


View from the Petronas


86th floor at Petronas Twin Towers


We also took a day trip to Malacca, which is about 2 1/2 hours from KL. As much as I don’t like organized tours, it was a convenient way to visit Malacca, the bus was comfortable and it took us to the main sites. Malacca is a UNESCO heritage site, the Portuguese took control of it in 1511, when Afonso de Albuquerque sailed from Goa to Malacca. It remained a Portuguese trading center until 1641 when the Dutch took control. A vital port and given the same name as the crucial Malacca Straits that is the sea between Malaysia and Indonesia’s western island of Sumatra; Malacca is named after the Sultanate that ruled the area in the 15th century. We visited the main sites that included churches and forts before a nice lunch with our fellow bus tourists – an engineer from Chennai, India, and a dentist couple from Barcelona – before heading back for our final night in Kuala Lumpur.  We all thought we could have stayed longer in Kuala Lumpur to explore more sites and visit the southern part of Malaysia, certainly a great place to visit.


Batu Caves


Batu Caves


Malacca – restaurant Keng Dom (!)




St Paul’s Church, Malacca


Japanese lunch with Wai Fung and Derrick