An Uber Ride In Malaysia


I’d be lying if I said I was 100% comfortable visiting a predominantly Muslim country, but with a culture being known for its hospitality, I was open to exploring it. The morning my husband and I landed in Kuala Lumpur, we called an Uber. Cab rides are always prime time to hear about an area from a local’s perspective. “Where do you hang out? What food should we try? Is this attraction worth it? Tell us everything,” spilled out of my mouth. The gabby ride was insightful and our uber friendly (no pun intended) and willing-to-help driver shared his contact to use during our stay. His name, Umar.


The following day we received a text. “How are you Marc & Cydny? Do you need a ride today? I was thinking, I can show you a lot of the spots we spoke about. Would you like me to take you as your guide?”


Scam. Fraud. Beware. I tried to refrain from thinking like a New Yorker. Umar gave his price for a day’s worth of sightseeing and we were intrigued. Unfortunately, the day before our scheduled outing Umar realized it landed on a Muslim holiday. Apologetically, he offered to either have his buddy guide us. Or even better, we could spend the traditional Muslim celebration with his family. Why was he being so kind and willing to please a stranger?  As quickly as my excitement increased, my worry amplified. People aren’t this friendly. What is the possibility this could this turn into a CNN story? American Couple Kidnapped in Malaysia. Damn the news and its dictation over my thoughts. Concern won.


However, I sincerely wanted to believe Umar was genuine. Therefore the least we could do was ask him for a ride back to the airport. His reply? “I’m going to pick you up early and treat you to a traditional Malaysian breakfast.” Is he for real?


Umar arrived with his wife, Rien, in the passenger seat. We exchanged hellos and headed to their favorite breakfast joint. He ordered for the table and cheerfully explained each of our dishes. Like a normal morning at the diner, we chatted about life, family, and adventure. We laughed, shared our cultures, and posted a group selfie. When the bill arrived, Umar refused to take our cash. I regretted not trusting Umar from the beginning, knowing better than to let the whispers of the news command my thoughts. The world is much more down-to-earth than what is portrayed on TV and, as a traveler, I know better to not fall into that trap. We arrived at the airport, gave hugs and said goodbye to what felt like long time friends, and took off.