I (Kinda) Did a Legal Internship in Malaysia
Despite my relatively average GPA, and to the surprise of many, I managed to fool a law firm in Kuala Lumpur into “choosing” me for an elusive and select three-week internship. (As it turns out, they definitely fooled me, as I did three weeks of unpaid legal research and shit-kicking for them). As other hobos will appreciate, once selected, I faced the age-old adage of bankrupting myself to cover the flights and consequently being forced to forgo luxuries such as conditioner and toothpaste once finally overseas, or saving my money for a rainy day and flagging the job. But it’s never really a question, and it turned out to be a great three weeks. Admittedly, I probably only spent about seven days (very generous guesstimate) in total at the law firm: the rest was spent backpacking my way round the more beautiful parts of the country – a double life that felt like an episode of Secret Diary of a Call Girl (except work was much more boring).
Firstly, backpackers run on a different time zone to the rest of society, going to bed in the early hours in the morning and waking up by lunchtime (maybe). In general though, the whole city doesn’t really awaken until after 9am. So on the rare occasions that I got up at 7am to get ready for work, the place was always a ghost town, with just the dregs from the previous night floating around. This meant that on a walk to the bus station at 7:30am, I saw chicken curry with rice on my left-hand side and Asian prostitutes on my right, which was kind of confronting when all I wanted was a coffee.
When you’re in a place like Malaysia, renowned for its delicious street food (if you ignore frog porridge and chicken-liver laksa), the cost of eating is the least of your worries. So much so that who cares if you’re hungry or not: you can always go another piece of roti when it only costs 25c. These street food vendors are also the best place to meet some very interesting characters. I was offered a job by a Malaysian local typing up his research on tantric sexuality (I politely declined, being fairly certain this was a metaphor for sex slavery).
The days I did actually intern, I had to refrain from killing myself from the utter boredom that is an 8am – 6pm office job. On my last day though., when the new intern beside me took advantage of the quiet office environment and had an undisturbed nap for two hours, I realised I’d been doing it all wrong. But the office did prove good as a place for reliable WiFi access and as a seemingly safe place to store my valuables (not much, considering I poured a bottle of water over my laptop early in the trip), plus I got free drinks at the staff Christmas party, so not all bad I suppose.
Despite these (limited) perks, it was made pretty clear to me from the word go that there would be no job prospects arising from my work. This was just a summer fling, and not a sexually rewarding one either. So by the end of my first day, which I’d spent Googling top Malaysian beaches, I decided to book a flight to Langkawi.
About a week later, I took a well-deserved break after five days of full-time work (I am beginning to realise I will probably be a hobo for the rest of my life due to my laziness) and headed to Pulau Langkawi for a week of island bliss. It didn’t disappoint.
In Langkawi, I squatted on the steps of McDonald’s (after being asked to leave because I wasn’t buying anything) hanging onto the outskirts of their free WiFi range to email the office with vivid details of my horrible food poisoning and explaining why I wouldn’t be there for a few days before heading straight to the beach.
Another important point to note for anyone travelling to Malaysia is the price of alcohol. Compared to the rest of South-East Asia, it is relatively expensive, and prices are similar to Australia. However, recognising the sufferance of His people, God gave backpackers Langkawi: essentially Candyland for grown ups. The whole island is duty free, so alcohol, chocolate and cigarettes (my food pyramid) are available by the kilo for what would be a few gold coins. (To put this in perspective, I bought a 1.75L bottle of Absolut Voddy for $15AUD). Basically, I think you can make up the costs of your flight over in savings on booze.
I did return to the internship for two final days (such a martyr) about five shades darker than when I left, but hey: no-one questions you when you mention the word diarrhea. I probably won’t be asking them for a reference letter anytime soon, but then again, I don’t really want to work anytime soon. So, if for nothing else but the free access to WiFi that law firm provided me with, enabling me to plan the rest of my holiday around Malaysia, cheers. Or as they say over there, sorakan!