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Thursday September 19, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday September 19, 2013 MYT 9:46:41 AM
by sharmila nair
Niki Cheong met many interesting people, including retiree Colin Goh from Malacca (left) who spoke about local experiences in the 50x50 MyMalaysia project.
A Malaysian goes on a journey to find out just how much Malaysia means to its people.
FOR some people, travelling across 13 Malaysian states in 15 days would seem like a crazy idea. Can you imagine the fatigue; manoeuvring the crazy traffic (and people) at the airports and roads; time spent boxed up in a car or airplane and not to mention amount of money required to make this possible?
Well, digital media consultant Niki Cheong had just that idea and instead of leaving it on his bucket list, he saw it through – thus the 50x50 My Malaysia social movement.
“I felt that the best way to bring Malaysians together was through their stories and conversation and to do this, I – along with some friends – had to head over to the states myself,” said Cheong, 33, who also wanted to add hype to the 50th celebration of Malaysia Day this year through this initiative.
With the help of several sponsors and a team of experts from non-profit organisation Kakikreatif, the fun but daunting journey kickstarted in Selangor on Merdeka Day and ended in Sarawak last week.
Along the way, Cheong and his friends shared an experience of a lifetime.
Lim Ee Loe, the 50x50 My Malaysia project manager said that this has been one of the most exciting and tiring projects she had worked on. Nevertheless, the experience she gained throughout the journey made every sweat and tear worthwhile.
“I had the chance to meet so many different people who had so many stories to share. The people I met, the conversations I had ... I just learned a lot from them,” said Lim, 24.
Besides meeting interesting folks, the project also gave people like Rames Harikrishnasamy a reason to visit states like Perlis and Kedah.
“I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur and as a landscape photographer I only go to beaches and mountains for work. This time, however, I thought that I should do something different and took the chance to see what the northern states had to offer,” said Rames, 33.
Instead of the scenery, Rames was more affected by the people he met along the journey.
“I met an old man who told me about his children who rarely visited him. That just taught me to respect my elders and be appreciative of the people around me.”
Cheong, who had been to 11 states in Malaysia before this project, now said that travelling this time was a little different.
“I’ve been to every Malaysian state now. However, it was different travelling this time around because of the back-to-back travelling and the reason behind it.”
Cheong was on a mission to find out “what makes this country my Malaysia” for Malaysians and gauge their feeling of ownership towards the country.
“It wasn’t just about us owning the country but the country owning us.”
Cheong, who mostly visited small towns and villages across Malaysia, said that the hospitality and warmth he received from the people was the same in every place.
He met interesting people and like a true Malaysian, had a gastronomical adventure throughout the journey. But if there is one thing that stood out from the rest, Cheong said that it had to be the beauty that the country offered.
“We take Malaysia’s beauty for granted. Driving through Kedah and Perlis I could see the scenic green views. We came across beautiful waterfalls in Bentong (Pahang) and off Kuala Terengganu (Terengganu) and only had to leave because we didn’t want to miss our flights.
“Malaysia is such a beautiful country and if it wasn’t for projects like this, I would just be surrounded by concrete buildings all day long,” said Cheong.
“50x50 My Malaysia isn’t just stories about the people ... it’s stories about the country as well.”
The stories collated from the visits, as well other documentation from 50x50 My Malaysia, are exhibited at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur until September 22 and are available for viewing at www.MyMalaysia50.com. Use the #50x50My hashtag to search for the experience on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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Lifestyle, 50x50Malaysia, Niki Cheong
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