Reflections on a year in & around Malaysia

Well, the time has come for my last post. This Saturday, I am moving away from Kuala Lumpur and back to the grand ol’ USA. After one year living and working here in KL (and lots of travel in between – I flew 18 times out of KLIA!), I wanted to reflect a bit. This post is just a quick random collection of thoughts, really.

But first, picture time! Work friends from this year at TIM: 🙂

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Here is a collection of funny (and not so funny) flashes of memories from my year that I won’t soon forget:

  • Halloween on Changkat
  • Seeing Mt Fuji from the Shinkansen and meeting Frances in Tokyo
  • Going to a Malaysian house party
  • Making fast travel friends in Kuching, Borneo
  • Hiking Bukit Kutu and climbing the rickety ladder to the top / making hiking buds
  • Loving the vibe in the Myanmar hostel and also falling off the scooter 😥
  • That awful day at work where Trump won
  • Being adopted into an American group in Seoul and falling in love with the city (and soju)
  • Whitewater rafting and mentally prepping for my imminent death
  • Cooking my own delicious Thai curry in Chiang Mai
  • Seeing the giant rafflesia in Cameron Highlands
  • Surprising my parents at home for Christmas
  • Fun trips with parents and coworkers to Melaka, Langkawi, and Penang
  • Two trips to the Philippines with Denice and loving a more ‘local’ experience
  • Meeting a real actual Tarzan on Ko Tao
  • Using my Italian skills (Alora) and many other drunken nights (Zouk!) with coworkers (and illegal all nighter ones with tinder dates)
  • Night markets on night markets in Taipei
  • Meeting lots of interesting (and annoying) people on tinder…starting with a falsely cool Aussie and ending with the best one
  • Traveling with a new friend Heather in Australia and having a little-too-wild night featuring grocery carts, night clubs, and near misses
  • The crazy landscapes of Tasmania and winter weather
  • Sunrise at Mt Kinabalu and Mt Rinjani
  • Pseudo backpacking Indonesia
  • Picking up Malaysian slang 😛 It’s okay lah. And trying tons of food in KL!

Picture time again! But this time, travel friends (and visitors) 😀

Travel as a personal development tool

So this phrase is not my own – I stole it from one of my favorite travel bloggers. But I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. Although I am not a backpacker/constant traveler, I’d say traveling every 1-2 weeks for a year in Asia qualifies me as an avid traveler. And after all of this travel, I can definitely say I am a different person than I was 1 year ago – a better one. Travel lets you forget about time and obligations and be whoever you want – and makes you develop your communication and planning skills.

Well then, how have I changed? In no particular order…

  • I have more trust in strangers and don’t stress about going with the flow
  • At the same time, I am a bit more wary of strangers – like walking at night, pickpockets, and scams
  • I am more outgoing
  • I got used to being stared at (blonde girl in Malaysia tends to stick out)
  • I am aware of cultural differences from working in Malaysia – and I am more appreciative of the USA workplace
  • I learned that who you surround yourself with really changes your outlook (cough, pessimistic first 6 months TI rotators)
  • I am more inclined towards long lasting relationships rather than fleeting ones (I had a lot of great fleeting ones this year – but now I am a bit sick of that)
  • I am more patient! Things rarely go as planned here
  • Similarly – I have become more adaptable/flexible. I’ve stayed in a cold tent on the side of a volcano and also a luxury airbnb and everything in between – and rarely had a complaint
  • I am grateful for and more aware of all of my privilege
  • I have more empathy for others, I’d like to think – after seeing so many different cultures and lifestyles
  • I have developed a dedicated ashtanga mysore practice thanks to the yoga shala here in KL ❤
  • I have a greater appreciation of pop music! Haha, thanks to Malaysia loving it
  • I picked up a few weird vocab words that maybe I will hold on to…like saying aircon, bin, and can/cannot
  • I have even more wanderlust. The more travelers you meet, the more recommendations you get! My travel journey has just begun 😛

Although now I am off to a less travel oriented lifestyle in graduate school, I know I want to travel internationally at least every summer until my degree is finished – and then I want to backpack in Latin America (and maybe more regions) when it is finished. I am already looking forward to it, and I know it will help me grow in many new ways. 🙂

Psst, let me brag for a sec – this is where I’m moving for school…so I think I won’t mind staying put for a while:

Santa Barbara from the pier
Santa Barbara, California

But for now, I’m excited to go home to America! I have one last bullet point list for ya! Here are some things I’m looking forward to:

  • Organization and efficiency
  • Less traffic
  • Clean air
  • A quieter workspace (I’m lookin at you, burping woman and people with super loud conf calls)
  • Dry toilets
  • Loud Americans (I’ll start complaining about them in about a week though, I’m sure)
  • Cleaner, healthier food
  • Driving & not dealing with uber and grab here in KL
  • Having less random injuries/illnesses
  • General stability
  • And of course, seeing family and friends!

Having said this, I have loved living in KL. I will definitely miss KL a lot – I already wrote a post that was a bit of an ode to KL. I will miss my swanky lifestyle, too (thanks, TI!). Malaysia has been very welcoming and a great place to stay for a year, and I’ve met so many amazing people here and in my travels – I’m so happy with everywhere I chose to travel! But, onwards and upwards! The more things I experience, the more I feel time is not exactly linear (thanks, Arrival!), and I feel as though I can always live these memories.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that it’s truly the people you meet that make experiences great.

Thank you all. ❤

Goodbye, KL ❤

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