- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2020

NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) - Michaela Beck of Newnan has been stuck in Malaysia since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while there she was able to visit a sacred place not many foreign tourists get to see.

Beck went to visit her son in New Zealand in January. Her return flight to the U.S. was supposed to have left Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, at the end of March.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her flight was canceled, rescheduled twice and then suspended until the middle of April. While she has been stuck, she was able to arrange a room for rent in Kuala Lumpur through a Malaysian friend.

Beck has been able to receive an emergency renewal for her Malaysian visa, which was set to expire. She said she may have to buy another airline ticket because she is unable to get a flight with the Turkish Airline her return ticket was with.

She said Malaysia has fared better than most countries with the COVID-19 pandemic. Beck said almost everyone wears a mask when they are outside.

As of Sept. 14, the World Health Organization reported a total of 9,915 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Malaysia and 128 deaths. The World Bank reports that the population of Malaysia is 31.53 million.

Beck said one day her Malaysian friend and guide Simon took her to the Magick River, which lies about 40 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur. She said the Magick River is not very well known to foreign tourists, and is located near a village called Kampung Pertak.

“Cherished by locals, the Magick River is believed to possess mystical powers,” Beck said. “It’s truly beautiful, calming and romantic; and comforts your spirit.”

Beck said she enjoyed sitting on the boulders with her feet in the water.

She said after spending some time at the river, they visited the people who live in the village. Beck said they live in houses made of concrete and bamboo, surrounded by palm trees and bushes with beautiful flowers.

Beck said she was lucky she was allowed to enter the settlement since Simon had to ask permission to bring her, a foreign stranger, along. There, she said they met other visitors who were stranded like her.

She said they also met a local couple, Antares and his wife Anoora. Antares is a self-educated writer, musician and philosopher. Beck said he and his wife believe in living by the given rules of nature.

“They shun socializing with just anybody but only with people who are in their view, ‘one of the kind,’ meaning unpretentious and genuine,” Beck said. “After a while, Antares said to me: ‘Michaela, you are one of a kind and it is a big pleasure for me to meet you.’”

Beck said Antares and Anoora both offered to share their rice and coffee with her. She said they were sorry for her that she was stranded and wanted to share what they had.

“They live – like everybody in the native community – a very simple life and have great respect and trust in the Magick River,” Beck said. “They invited me to visit them at their house any time I wish to. Needless to say, I was very humbled yet honored.”

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