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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Why I love living in KL

To me, KL (Kuala Lumpur) seems like a perfect city for expats. Granted, it is the only city I’ve been an expat in, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. But I wanted to talk about why I love living in KL and to include some of my pictures of this city that I haven’t posted (since my blog has been mainly about travel lately). And to be fair, I will include some annoyances I’ve had living here, too. 🙂

Read on for pros and cons of KL life!

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Reflections at Half Time

Okay, I’ll admit I basically made that the post title because it sounds like a good album name 😛 Technically I’m not halfway done with my rotation in Kuala Lumpur yet, but it’s getting close. I’ve been in KL for a bit over 5 months and will remain for a bit less than 7. I wanted to write a more personal post talking about some things that I’ve learned while living as an expat here. My parents just visited, so after showing them around KL, I feel like I have a new appreciation. Read on for a breakdown 😀

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Parents at Pavilion!

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KL Wanderings

Here’s a quick post about what I’ve been learning/doing 🙂

Batu Caves

This weekend we went to Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine and a bit of a tourist attraction. I love caves, so it was amazing just to see that in itself – plus the combination of the shrine was pretty much magic. It was fairly crowded and the steps are steep, but worth it! During Thaipusam, there’s a ceremony there, which is a big attraction and would be cool to see. On the steps there are tons of monkeys…everyone warned to be careful because they snatch your stuff! No incidents with us though :p

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A bit of KL

Orientation

On Monday I had a relocation orientation – they took me to a bank, helped me to get a sim card, and showed me around KL. It was nice to have a local welcome me and show me some good food and a couple cool places that I probably would not have visited otherwise! We went to the City Gallery and Merdeka square. There’s a lot of very cool architecture (and of course, history) in the area.

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Another new home

Every single year since graduating high school I’ve moved residences…at first within the Midwest, then to Texas, and now all the way across the ocean to Kuala Lumpur. I am super excited to be here – definitely appreciative of the opportunity – but also nervous about learning my new job, maintaining work life balance, keeping in contact with people in the US, making new friends, & prepping for grad school, all while exploring KL and the whole rest of SE Asia. To be able to accomplish all of that seems overwhelming – but day by day I think it will feel more in reach.

So here’s what this new home looks like!

My apartment

TI is putting us up in Somerset Ampang, basically an extended stay hotel. The residences are like apartments but in a hotel atmosphere. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves, hah!

Overall it’s super nice – there’s breakfast in the mornings and a restaurant next door, & it’s walking distance to a grocery store & mall. It’s a bit far from the ‘going out’ area (Bukit Bintang), so that may get annoying, and I don’t yet know how the commute will be, so I’ll refrain from complaining yet 😛

KLCC

I did a little bit of exploring this weekend with some of the other TI people living at Somerset. We walked around a bit at KLCC (KL City Center), went to the big mall there, the park, saw the iconic Petronas Towers (I mean, you can see them from basically everywhere), went grocery shopping, and went to the aquarium. KLCC is very modern and basically like the US, if you ignore the Malay signs, motorbikes, palm trees, and driving on the left side of the road (…ok, maybe not just like the US).

Bukit Bintang

This is an area with street food, bars, restaurants, and lots of expats. Saturday night we went to a bar called Taps, which had craft beer. Alcohol in Malaysia is expensive (taxes + it’s a Muslim country) – but by expensive, I mean about the same price as in the US. Just relative to everything else, it’s expensive. Anyway, after we had our fill of the super Western craft beer bar, we explored the area. This is when I couldn’t stop smiling – finally we found the street food (a busy street called Jalan Alor) and the SE Asia character that I grew to love last summer. The next day we came back to the area to eat lunch at Jalan Alor, which was much more bustling the previous night, but we still managed to find great food there for lunch. An example of how cheap it is – we had 3 dishes and 4 drinks (not alcoholic), which came out to around RM55 or 60 – aka $14 😀

Besides exploring a bit, I’ve been organizing my stuff, and now trip planning – apparently during my second week of work, there are 2 national holidays, so 2 days off. Surprisingly, this is more stressful than anything – the number of possibilities of places to go to is just so huge that I’ve had trouble deciding. But I think I’ve settled on a couple places to travel to next week…I’ll keep you posted 🙂